Edna Lewis Dinner Recap

I’d like to extend my sincerest thanks to Chef Joe Randall and the Edna Lewis Foundation for letting Big Jones host a fundraising dinner this past Tuesday. I’ve written many times about Edna Lewis, including in my upcoming cookbook, and the influence she has had on me as a chef and as a human being. It was truly an honor to be in the company of such great chefs and great minds. Most of all, I’d like to thank the many wonderful people that bought tickets, came to the event, participated in the conversation, and made the evening as special as it truly was. To date, one of the days I’m most proud of as a chef.

This is the first of what I hope will be many Edna Lewis Foundation events in Chicago. We have a wealth of culinary talent here and I’m looking to do my part to make sure everyone is included at the dinner table.

The menu, what a great evening!
The menu, what a great evening!
We had a full house and a delightful mix of people who contributed to excellent conversation over the evening
We had a full house and a delightful mix of people who contributed to excellent conversation over the evening
Chef Jennifer Booker's beautiful cookbook on display. Of course lucky guests got to have her sign it for them!
Chef Jennifer Booker’s beautiful cookbook on display. Of course lucky guests got to have her sign it for them!
Chef Timothy Dean sears off stuffed chicken thighs, while stagier Dorian Hight looks on and learns
Chef Timothy Dean sears off stuffed chicken thighs, while stagier Dorian Hight looks on and learns
Chef Dean on the plate up, adding hot jus to his dish on the way to the table
Chef Dean on the plate up, adding hot jus to his dish on the way to the table
Chef Dean's stuffed chicken thigh with country ham, sweetbreads, and collards was stunning, and delicious
Chef Dean’s stuffed chicken thigh with country ham, sweetbreads, and collards was stunning, and delicious
Chef Jennifer Booker's fried Mississippi catfish with southern-style hoe cake, pickled onions, and red hot pepper relish was a great start to the night
Chef Jennifer Booker’s fried Mississippi catfish with southern-style hoe cake, pickled onions, and red hot pepper relish was a great start to the night
Chef Booker on the plate up, with me on the assist
Chef Booker on the plate up, with me on the assist
Chef Joe Randall working the room like a pro
Chef Joe Randall working the room like a pro
Beverage service was excellent, with cocktails and pairings by Kelly Stepto-Royston of Atwood
Beverage service was excellent, with cocktails and pairings by Kelly Stepto-Royston of Atwood
Chef Randall with John and Nancy Ross Ryan before dinner
Chef Randall with John and Nancy Ross Ryan before dinner
Chef Randall chats up Doctor Bruce Kraig and guests
Chef Randall chats up Doctor Bruce Kraig and guests
I'm all smiles when I get to hang out with Donna Battle Pierce
I’m all smiles when I get to hang out with Donna Battle Pierce
Chef Kristopher Murray, Executive director of Washburne Culinary Institute, brought a brigade of students with him, who collaborated on this gem of a dish:m pulled pork and crispy belly with Eashburne cha-cha relish and sweet potato dauphinoise
Chef Kristopher Murray, Executive director of Washburne Culinary Institute, brought a brigade of students with him, who collaborated on this gem of a dish:m pulled pork and crispy belly with Eashburne cha-cha relish and sweet potato dauphinoise
Chef Dwight Evans' dish, under construction with assist by students from Washburne
Chef Dwight Evans’ dish, under construction with assist by students from Washburne
Chef Brian Jupiter deep in thought, it's Game time!
Chef Brian Jupiter deep in thought, it’s Game time!
Chef Brian Jupiter on the plate up, with Chef Kristopher Murray
Chef Brian Jupiter on the plate up, with Chef Kristopher Murray
Chef Evans on the plate up, demoing one for the students who will help plate for the guests
Chef Evans on the plate up, demoing one for the students who will help plate for the guests
Chef Evans' Compressed oxtail was as beautiful as it was delicious. What technique!
Chef Evans’ Compressed oxtail was as beautiful as it was delicious. What technique!
Chefs Dwight Evans, Jennifer Booker, and Timothy Dean sayin' cheese!
Chefs Dwight Evans, Jennifer Booker, and Timothy Dean sayin’ cheese!
Chef Randall with Dwight Evans and guest, and Chef Cliff Rome, whose peach cobbler was a magnificent closer for the evening
Chef Randall with Dwight Evans and guest, and Chef Cliff Rome, whose peach cobbler was a magnificent closer for the evening
Left to right: Brian Jupiter, Kristopher Murray, Timothy Dean, Jennifer Booker, Dwight Evans, Cliff Rome. Major good feelings from working with these folks!
Left to right: Brian Jupiter, Kristopher Murray, Timothy Dean, Jennifer Booker, Dwight Evans, Cliff Rome. Major good feelings from working with these folks!

More photos are forthcoming on the foundation’s web site, plus video from the event. Here are some of our favorite shots so far.