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COMMUNITY: Blackhawks Trade Skates for Aprons at Winterfest

Players and renowned Chicago chefs take center stage at third annual event benefitting the Blackhawks Foundation

by Fred Mitchell /

Jonathan Toews said he was thrilled to meet renowned Chicago chef Stephanie Izard.

And, no doubt, dozens of fortunate fans were delighted to meet Toews and the rest of the Blackhawks players attending last Friday night's third annual Winterfest.

Delicious food, sparkling wine, special craft cocktails…what was there not to like at this grand charity gathering?

"I wouldn't call myself a connossieur much. All I know is that living in Chicago you've got a lot of perks, a lot of great restaurants," Toews said. "It is one of the great cities in the U.S. and in the world where you can get a little bit of everything. We are pretty spoiled in that sense. I just met Stephanie Izard. It is pretty cool to mix with some of the minds behind Chicago's great restaurants."

This year's Winterfest was held at Morgan Manufacturing (401 N. Morgan St.). Proceeds from the social get-together benefit the Blackhawks Foundation.

"This event is going to help directly support our programming that we run out of our practice facility (Fifth Third Arena) and also the nonprofit organizations that we help support through our grant process. So it is really important and really meaningful. We really appreciate the fans coming out to support it," said Tovah McCord, Blackhawks Director of Foundation Programming.

"It is our first time at Morgan Manufacturing. It looks great. We have grown in our third year, so we needed to find a larger venue. This is a perfect fit."

Izard of This Little Goat and 15 other renowned local chefs, including Brian Jupiter of Ina Mae Tavern and Frontier, and Brian Ahern of Boeufhaus enthralled the attendees with their signature dishes.

Pat Boyle of NBC Sports Chicago emceed the event which included the auctioning of the signed cooking aprons of several Blackhawks players.

Patrick Kane made his first appearance at Winterfest last Friday and came away quite impressed.

"It's always nice to give back a little bit and just kind of mingle and connect with the fans," Kane said. "It is something that you aren't able to do so much. So it is nice to get the opportunity. You see the support when they come to the games and some other events. But this is a little bit different because you are actually mingling and talking to them and hanging out with them. So it is good."

Veteran winger Brandon Saad saw the event as a wonderful opportunity to change up the usual routine of practices, games and travel that the Blackhawks players typically endure this time of year.

"We get pretty busy during the year, so to take a break here and so something different…it's always nice," Saad said. "Guys get busy and we see a lot of each other at the rink, but to be out socially and mingle with fans that we know care a lot about us…it is a great event."

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