Michelle Melin-Rogovin, candidate for Forest Park Village Council, spoke to guests attending the 209 Scholarship event on Nov. 10 at the Foundry.

The Foundry, 7503 Madison St., bustled with familiar faces on the evening of Nov. 10 when 209 Scholarship hosted its third Great Chefs: Educated Palates event. The food-focused, music-filled gathering raised approximately $20,000 for the scholarship fund established in 2015. 

“We are really pleased with how the event went,” said Michelle Woehrle, 209 Scholarship board member. “It is a relaunch, having taken a break since 2019, so we weren’t sure how it would go. But we definitely felt the love from the community towards the students attending and graduating from Proviso District 209 high schools. We feel really excited about what the future holds for continuing to support these young people.”

Debra Vines, the evening’s emcee, brought high energy to the festive event. In addition to supporting 209 Scholarship, Vines has earned national recognition for her Autism advocacy work as founder and CEO of The Answer, Inc.

Attendees were treated to dishes from seven vendors including N Rebozo, Fiore Pizzeria & Bakery, Zesty Catering, Couture Kitchen, Azucar Rococo, Blackall Events and Habrae Thai Café & Eatery. Hardworking and happy chefs served up hearty meatballs, chili glazed shrimp crackers, lobster mac n’ cheese, and delicate cauliflower soup while “celebrity bartenders,” including Isaiah Brandon, Cara Carriveau, Kathy Grzelak and Tim Gillian, served up drinks with a smile. 

Debra Vines, founder and CEO of The Answer, Inc., served as emcee for the evening. Her high-energy approach added to the spirit of soiree as she embraced the opportunity to introduce past scholarship recipients. Past awardees who recently graduated with their bachelor’s degrees spoke at the event.  Marquan Jones and Labake Oyetayo both shared the difference 209 Scholarship made in their lives. Jones, a 2016 awardee, graduated from Cornell University and is working as a management consultant and is part of a non-profit fashion start up. While Oyetayo, a 2018 recipient, graduated from the University of Illinois and is now preparing for her MCATS.

Guests also had fun posing by an ice sculpture, made by Nadeau’s in Forest Park and donated by 209 Scholarship board president April Baker. Organizers said the eBike donated by Play It Again Sports in Forest Park was a big hit in the silent auction, as was the Taste of Proviso basket that included swag and gift certificates from Proviso Township restaurants.

Event organizers are looking forward to hosting the event again in 2023.