Friday, August 8, 2014

One Small Step Up for Woman, One Giant Leap for Womankind

It was a great privilege to witness and participate in Step Up Women's Network's Shine and Dine in Chicago. The venue - Bridgeport Arts Center's Skyline Loft - was spacious and hip, the food and drink top shelf, the people beautiful inside and out. My faith in humanity was both rekindled and fanned to bonfire proportions.

Per their website, Step Up Women's Network is "a nonprofit membership organization igniting women & girls to fulfill their potential", "empower[ing] teen girls from under-resourced communities to be confident, college-bound, and career-ready, and propel professional women through connections, collaborations, and continuous development". It was refreshing to see such devotion to a truly practical approach to helping young women find their way into professional circles through personal interaction with strong examples of those who have gone and succeeded before them, and exposure to a well-connected, professional network.

The food was so impressive that I fell several stories off my diet wagon, and will likely be limping around in a culinary haze for days. There was no way to experience all of it, so I'll focus on what I had, which should in no way imply that anything I didn't try wasn't similarly amazing.

Opart Thai House's "Tiger Cry Beef" was my favorite. The word 'succulent' raced to mind, and the sauce was fabulous in its own right. Their "Pad Thai Tofu" was also spectacular, especially with just the right amount of their red hot sauce ("Warning, Will Robinson!").

Filini Bar and Restaurant presented a concoction called "Yellow Fin Tuna Sedani" that looked and tasted like nothing I've ever had. Imagine ziti noodles with a sort of yellowish, orange coating that made them look like Cheetos at a distance, topped with a mix of raw tuna in a proprietary sauce. I have no idea what all the ingredient were, but the overall texture and taste had me repeating a heartfelt "Wow!" after every bite. Richard Kim, the general manager, was a perfect host, sincerely excited about what Filini has to offer, and simply a joy to interact with.

RL's "Beer-Braised Short Rib Sandwich" was unspeakably good. While I regret not having one until I was already stuffed, it was probably a good thing, for I'm not sure I'd have had room for anything else had we stopped by RL's booth first. I *loved* the crunch of the light layer of vegetables situated between the meat and the bottom bun.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken's "Chicken and Grits" were a delicacy. I've never had grits prepared that way, to come out so visually indistinguishable from mashed potatoes. Great sauce on them, too.

Urban BBQ's "Pulled Pork Sliders" were indeed slippery, thrilling my tongue and sliding down my gullet in a way that had me wondering if I'd remembered to chew. Yum!

Vanille Patisserie's "Caramel Macarons" were sinfully sweet. (Mental note to go to confession this week....)

I'm not certain if a singular outfit served the alcoholic beverages, but the selection was great, and the pourers delightful, especially David, who deeply understood the essence of vodka on the rocks.

The care and detail demonstrated by Step Up Women's Network in every aspect of this event made it obvious that they know what they're doing, and are serious about affecting the lives of young women in profound ways. Don't hesitate to donate to Step Up Women's Network with confidence today.

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