Center for Enriched Living to host Virtual Chefs' Night

  • The Center for Enriched Living's popular Chefs' Night fundraiser is being held on Monday, June 28.

    The Center for Enriched Living's popular Chefs' Night fundraiser is being held on Monday, June 28. Courtesy of CEL

Updated 6/21/2021 9:28 AM

The Center for Enriched Living, which provides life-changing opportunities for Chicago-area residents who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, is once again transforming its popular Chefs' Night fundraiser into a virtual gathering that will be livestreamed to supporters from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 28.

The annual event, CEL's biggest fundraiser, helps the organization provide social enrichment, innovative day programs and community-based employment for people with IDD.


Virtual Chefs' Night will feature a live cooking demo from Chef Tim Minefee of Barilla and his CEL assistants, a special performance by the CEL Choir and inspirational messages from CEL members and families whose lives have been impacted by the organization.

The event is free to attend, but contributions will help CEL reach more members.

To register and get the link, and to learn about making a general admission donation of $90, visit

There will also be a drawing for a 2021 Ford Bronco or $30,000 cash. Only 1,299 tickets will be sold; tickets are still available and can be purchased online through June 25 at

Harriet Levy, CEO of CEL, and Michelle Mekky, founder and president of Mekky Media Relations Inc., will co-host Virtual Chefs' Night.

"We have loved gathering in person for Chefs' Night through the years -- and that will return," Levy says. "But, for now, we hope our supporters will tune in virtually to enjoy what we have in store and help provide the funding that is desperately needed so we can continue to expand the world for our members."

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During the pandemic, CEL continued providing services to people with IDD by moving programs online so they could learn and socialize from home. The organization even offered a virtual Career Academy and continued to partner with local businesses to help people find work.

Now CEL is working to regain its pre-COVID momentum and holding more in-person programs at its state-of-the-art Universally-Designed center in suburban Riverwoods.

For example, the REACH Adult Day Program is being held on-site, along with some educational and enrichment offerings. In addition, CEL has made great progress with its "Bounce Forward" rebuilding plan.

"Our goal is to come back stronger than ever so we can reach even more people who may be feeling isolated. A successful Virtual Chefs' Night will enable us to do that," Levy says.


Mekky, whose public relations agency works with CEL, says Levy and her team are passionate about fighting social isolation among people with IDD.

"They even made a tremendous difference for those who were especially vulnerable during the pandemic," she says. "I have been proud to tell their stories, and I'm honored to host Chefs' Night and help them continue their important work throughout Chicagoland."

The Center for Enriched Living (CEL), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, provides programs that focus on social, recreational, employment and educational opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, giving them the opportunity to be fully included in the community, achieve personal success and enjoy a good quality of life.

CEL is an independent 501(c) 3 agency operating out of a state-of-the-art facility in Riverwoods, which opened in 2000, and was renovated with Universal Design in 2016, making it a more welcoming space for all.

CEL serves hundreds of people from at least 50 Chicago-area communities each year. CEL is CQL Accredited and a Guidestar Platinum nonprofit.

To learn more, visit