Grand Chefs Gala

The gala raised $550,000, the second highest amount ever raised at Grand Chefs Gala, second only to the funds raised in 2007 before the economic recession.


Heron Agency had the pleasure of working with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), a nonprofit donor-supported organization dedicated to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis, on one of its biggest annual fundraisers for the Chicago chapter, the Grand Chefs Gala. The Grand Chefs Gala was founded 17 years ago in partnership with our client, Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. The event is also known for the presentation of the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence.


Our objective was to secure more publicity on the event than ever before. The press strategy was to highlight each distinct portion of the event to maximize coverage from the nominations process to the gala itself to post-event follow-up and photo distribution. Tactics included a press conference to announce nominees with three of Chicago’s elite chefs acting as moderators, pitching chefs and CFF committee members locally to their hometown newspapers and alumni publications, pitching TV producers for cooking segments, inviting press to cover the gala, taking photos during the event, tweeting and posting on Facebook during the event, and sending out the photos for social coverage following the gala.


Press coverage from the event was immense. We secured two segments on WLS-TV (ABC) and coverage in Today’s Chicago Woman, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Pioneer Press, Chicago Sun-Times Splash, CS Magazine, Eater Chicago, The North Shore Weekend, Illinois Meetings + Events, Inside-Booster, Candid Candace, A Girl & Her Food, and ChicagoNow.com. The media impressions totaled over 4 million. We also live tweeted award winners and photos during the gala, in addition to blogging about it on our blog, The Heron Report, following the event. We measured our success both by conversations with CFF, who were extremely thrilled with the amount and quality of publicity, as well as by the final budget. The gala raised $550,000, the second highest amount ever raised at Grand Chefs Gala, second only to the funds raised in 2007 before the economic recession.

For 17 years, Heron has been at the forefront of the industry, proud to have represented and produced results for some of the world’s most recognized brands, well-known celebrities, and national theaters, restaurants, and companies.

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Below are a few case studies that highlight our integrated campaigns and the results we deliver.

American Writers Museum
The Westin Nashville
Grand Chefs Gala
Taste of Chicago
Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph
SafeHouse Chicago
Operation Warrior Call
Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel
Aire and Raised, An Urban Rooftop bar
The Service Companies
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
All Chocolate Kitchen
Massage Envy
The Screwtape Letters
Geja’s Café 40th Anniversary Celebration
Race to Mackinac


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