Cheesecake Day Tradition Continues at Capitol

Last Wednesday, the Illinois State Comptroller’s Office celebrated one of their favorite traditions, Cheesecake Day. Cheesecake day was founded by the late former state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to bring people together during the final days of session at the Capitol. Now, 12 years later, it is still celebrated (now with current Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger) and Eli’s is still proud to donate cheesecakes to the beloved celebration. This year, Eli’s gave cases of our Original Plain Cheesecake, our Chocolate Chip Cheesecake and our ever-popular Red Velvet Cheesecake. We at Eli’s are pleased that everyone enjoyed themselves and can’t wait to return next year!

 

Photos courtesy of State Comptroller Leslie Munger

Photos courtesy of State Comptroller Leslie Munger

Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger and staff enjoy slices of cheesecake

Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger and staff enjoy slices of cheesecake

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Eli’s Proud to Participate in A Taste That Matters

Yesterday, Eli’s attended the 4th Annual A Taste That Matters, a culinary event benefitting the Northern Illinois Food Depository. The Northern Illinois Food Depository works to provide nutritious meals to people in need in Boone, DuPage, DeKalb, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will and Winnebago counties.  The event, presented by Jewel-Osco, is the organizations largest fundraiser with more than 600 guests in attendance. Guests enjoyed a variety of food provided by the local businesses and an expansive silent auction.  Eli’s provided an array of desserts including our Cherry, Apple, and Dulce de Leche Mini Pies and other bite sized treats including our 7 Layer Bar, Salted Caramel Bar, Pecan Bar and Brownies. We also served tiny slices of our Original Plain cheesecake with two different topping options – a Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache and our Housemade Strawberry Coulis. Eli’s was thrilled to be a part of such a fun event. If you would like to learn more about the organization, please click here.

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A Taste That Matters was sponsored by a variety of leading food and beverage providers in the Northern Illinois area.

Eli’s served a variety of our mini desserts for attendees to sample.

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Eli’s Cheesecake Introduces New Products at NRA

Eli’s Cheesecake has been exhibiting at the National Restaurant Show (NRA Show) from the very first show in 1985.  It is very exciting and rewarding to connect with our customers, friends and business associates.  With over 60 years in the food service industry, we are proud of our heritage and happy to serve our customers with the high quality desserts decorated by hand and made with the finest ingredients.

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This year, we introduced trendy flavors like a Mini Dulce de Leche Pie and Salted Caramel Pretzel Bar.  Adding to our line of cheesecakes, we debuted a small, 5″ round Original Plain Cheesecake, as well as a newly-formulated Strawberry Topped Cheesecake in both a 5″ and 9″ round. For more information, food service distributors and operators are invited to our new foodservice industry website http://foodservice.elicheesecake.com/

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This year, Chicago Chef Graham Elliot visited our booth! We also had Students from Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) at the booth to share their honey story with the attendees.  CHSAS is one of the few urban agricultural high schools in the country.   Eli’s new Honey Mediterranean Cheesecakes is made with honey from CHSAS.

We also were honored to be visited by Brian Margulis, of Creative Hospitality Associates, and the Restaurant Association of Singapore who were in town for the NRA Show.  The group visited our Bakery Cafe on the northwest side of Chicago, where they learned about Eli’s history, products, and community outreach from Marc Schulman, president, and Debbie Marchok, VP of Marketing.

We look forward to another exciting NRA Show in 2016!

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Eli’s Cheesecake Welcomes Food Science Students & Eli’s Scholars from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences for Job Shadow 2015

The Job Shadow Activities for students at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences is scheduled each year to begin on Ground Hog Day, February 2nd, and continue through the Spring Term. For the 2nd time in 4 years, the kickoff rally was postponed as a major storm hit Chicago.

At Eli’s Cheesecake, we schedule our Job Shadow visit by food science students for early May to insure the snow has ended and today was a most beautiful day. Also, May 7th, is the Anniversary of the passing away of our Founder, Eli M. Schulman, and it is a most fitting day to spend with students and also to honor the graduates receiving the scholarships Eli’s Cheesecake is presenting this year.

 

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Jeff Anderson, our Vice President of Purchasing and Operations is the Organizer of the Activities. After a continental breakfast and introduction to Eli’s History and Products by Debbie Marchok, our VP of Marketing, the students participate in a short program on GMP’s and then put on their bakery garb. After a tour of the Bakery by Jeff, each student, as well as their advisors, decorated an Eli’s Cheesecake to take home. After that, the students enjoyed lunch outside under Eli’s Big Top.

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Congratulations to the Eli’s Cheesecake Scholars for 2015 graduating from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. From left to right: Jeff Anderson (Eli’s); Lucille Shaw (CHSAS); Jolene Worthington (Eli’s); Grace Mikrut (attending Illinois State University) and Noor Ahmad (attending the University of Illinois at Chicago), both recipients of the Eli M. Schulman & Robert Hatoff Scholarship; and Alyssa Pederson and Alana Chase, both recipients of the Aaron Easter Scholarship and attending the College of Agriculture, Consumer & Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Dr. Charles Guengerich (President Emeritus Wright College); and Marc Schulman (Eli’s).

Eli’s Cheesecake a hit at the James Beard Awards Welcome Reception

When it was announed last year that the James Beard Awards would be leaving New York for the first time ever and coming to Chicago, Eli’s wanted to be involved. Thanks to the Illinois Restaurant Association, we were featured on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at the Welcoming Reception at Soho House Chicago. The event was packed with over 600 in attendance, including the big names like Rick Bayless and Andrew Zimmern. Eli’s was honored to be able to provide the Celebratory Cheesecake, which became the most photographed part of the event. The guests couldn’t believe it was real and that they could take a slice home. Along with the big cake, Eli’s also provided two specialty cheesecakes – a goats milk cheesecake with huckleberries and almond streusel and a Belgian chocolate cheesecake with fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings. This was a great way for us to showcase Eli’s Cheesecake’s place in the Chicago Food Scene and our commitment to always being at the cutting edge of Desserts.

Maureen Schulman (right) with Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation

Maureen Schulman (right) with Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation

Eli's mini specialty cheesecakes at the James Beard Awards welcome reception

Eli’s mini specialty cheesecakes at the James Beard Awards welcome reception

The celebratory cheesecake

The celebratory cheesecake

 

 

Eli’s Cheesecake delighted to host visit by Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights of the State Department

At Eli’s Cheesecake, we are very proud of our long time partnership with RefugeeOne, the largest full service refugee settlement agency in Illinois. Without RefugeeOne, we would would have never met Elias Kasongo, who came to Eli’s Cheesecake in 1994 after being held for 4 years in a refugee camp in Zambia after leaving his home in the Congo. Over those years, Elias has gone from the dish room to becoming Purchasing & Materials Manager with a degree from Northeastern Illinois University, having a beautiful family and now a home owner.

Elias’ story is compelling and we so honored to get a call on Friday that a distinguished visitor to Chicago, Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights wanted to stop by Eli’s to meet Elias. Under Secretary Sewall was in Chicago to speak about atrocity prevention to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She also visited RefugeeOne (where she learned about Elias and Eli’s Cheesecake) and met with the leadership of World Business Chicago and Chicago Sister Cities International.

At Eli’s Cheesecake, Under Secretary Sewall and her colleague, Virginia Blakeman, were able to meet with Elias and  with Vlora Morina who came to Chicago and Eli’s Cheesecake from Kosovo after the War that had brought so much devastation to that area. Marc Schulman, President of Eli’s Cheesecake, and son the Founder, Eli M. Schulman, was able to share a presentation of the history of Eli’s Cheesecake in Chicago including its Big Cakes for Presidential Inaugurals, creating the 50th Birthday Cakes for both Secretary Clinton and President Obama and the company’s strong commitment to the community including the RefugeeOne Partnership.

 

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Virginia Blakeman of the State Department, Elias Kasongo and Vlora Morina, both of Eli’s Cheesecake, Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights of the State Department and Eli’s President, Marc Schulman

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Under Secretary Sewall listens to Elias Kasongo’s story of coming to Chicago from a Refugee Camp in the Congo and achievements at Eli’s Cheesecake.

 

 

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Vlora Morina speaks with Virginia Blakeman of the State Department about her work at Eli’s Cheesecake and her story of coming to Chicago from Kosovo.

Celebrating the life of Cardinal George & Rita Tierney

Today, April 17th is the birthday of our Dear Friend and Associate, Rita Tierney. It is also a very sad day for Chicago with passing of Francis Cardinal George, a great friend to Eli’s and to Rita.

The story starts in February of 1998 when it was announced that Francis Cardinal George, the first Chicago born Archbishop of Chicago, was going to Rome for his induction ceremony. Rita, then 80 years old, went to work figuring out a way to get Eli’s Cheesecake to Rome for the Celebration. For days, Rita stayed up most of the night speaking to Vatican officials and transportation companies finding a way to get Eli’s treats to Rome. Just when we thought it would be impossible, Rita found a staff member at the Pontifical North American College in Rome who thought Eli’s would be a perfect addition to their event for Cardinal George. Rita then made all the arrangements for transit and personally tracked the cheesecake from their departure from Eli’s to arrival in Rome. We heard initially that everything went well but then found out what a major impact Rita’s hard work had made. Shortly after returning to Chicago from Rome, Cardinal George spoke at the opening of the Lawson House YMCA, just several blocks west of Eli’s the Place for Steak on Chicago Avenue, and an important community center for serving the housing and social needs of the needy in our community. Cardinal George opened his remarks by thanking all of us at Eli’s, as a Chicago company and a member of the Greater North Michigan Avenue community, for providing that great dessert for his induction and that Eli’s had become a favorite for many of the priests attending the event.

Several weeks later, the following letter came to me from Cardinal George sharing his joy and pride in our participation in his important celebration.

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The story continues four years later in March of 2002, when I was invited by David Blake, then Publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business to a small luncheon with other business leaders of various faiths and backgrounds to meet Cardinal George and to discuss many of the pressing issues in our community. Just as I was leaving for the lunch, I received word that Rita, at the age of 85, had passed away after an extended illness. I shared Rita’s story with the Cardinal and how she had worked so hard to see those cheesecakes get to Rome.

 

The Cardinal expressed his condolences and then asked me to schedule a lunch with him to celebrate Rita’s life. A month later, my mother, my wife, Maureen, my associates, Lisa Ripka and Mary Gale (both dear friends of Rita’s) and one of Rita’s sons, and me, were fortunate to have Cardinal George join us for lunch at Eli’s the Place for Steak. The Cardinal could not have been nicer expressing his compassion over the loss of such a dear person and honoring Rita for her commitment to Eli’s, to her community and to her faith.

 

After that visit, we continued to stay in contact with Cardinal George—sending him and his Associates Eli’s Cheesecake for his birthday and other special events. We also continued our support of the New Horizon Center and dedicated the Atrium at the Center, which is right next to Eli’s, in honor of Rita. We invited the Cardinal to the dedication of the Atrium in February of 2007 but his schedule did not allow it. In March 2009, we were so fortunate to host Cardinal George for lunch at Eli’s Cheesecake and for a visit to the children at the New Horizon Center. The Cardinal, who grew up in the nearby St. Pascal Parish, could not have been nicer. He took pictures, it seemed with everyone at the Bakery, blessed so many objects and then walked over to greet the children at New Horizon. Such a wonderful man.

 

We have continued to send Eli’s Cheesecake’s to the Cardinal and have joined all Chicago in praying for his recovery. We mourn his loss today but can’t think of how he reached out to console us with the loss of Rita and today we know that Rita is welcoming him!

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Marc Schulman to be Keynote Panelist at the Exchange

 

471572853_640This Wednesday, March 15, is the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Exchange.  The keynote panel this year will be Made in Chicago (MIC) where the exchange will celebrate standout Chicago food and beverage brands that are locally produced and sold in our neighborhoods and around the globe. Marc Schulman, President of Eli’s Cheesecake, will be a keynote panelist, along with Bob Jensen (Argus Brewery), R.J. Melman (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises), and Alejandro Silva (Evans Food Group Ltd.). Learn from these fascinating homegrown Chicago success stories and get real-world advice on how to grow a business from soup to nuts, including sourcing, manufacturing, capitalization, marketing and sales.  MIC keynote will take place from 4:30-5:30 PM at the Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue.

The Exchange 2015 is the Chicagoland Chamber’s signature tradeshow and is expected to draw nearly 1,000 attendees and 100 member exhibitors. Exhibitors and attendees represent a diverse cross-section of businesses, including small, mid-size and enterprise companies from Chicago’s major industries.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Website or click here.

Eli’s Cheesecake Kicks off Spring with this week’s events

Elis_TribAd--4_1_15Eli’s is bringing back their spring Dock Sale with a weekend of savings. The in-store dock sale will take place on Friday, April 3rd (8am-6pm) and Saturday, April 4th (9am-5pm) at Eli’s Cheesecake World in the Bakery Café & Retail Store. Shoppers will receive a free 7” Original Plain Cheesecake with each $25 purchase. Eli’s specialty cheesecakes are the perfect antidote to April showers. Both Eli’s Irish Cream Cheesecake and Eli’s Old-Fashioned Triple Chocolate Cake are guaranteed to be show stoppers for any occasion. Eli’s Original Plain Cheesecake, dessert trays and Salted Caramel Cheesecake made with gluten free top request lists. Eli’s Bakery Café & Retail Store is located at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago 60634. Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 11am-5pm. Local delivery now available for Chicago and select suburbs. Call 773-205-3800 to order.

On Monday, March 30th, Eli’s attended Chowdah Fest at the Columbia Yacht Club. Besides being a wonderful opportunity to sample varieties of the best chowder in the city, and for people to discover the delightful ambiance of the yacht club, it is the biggest and most important fundraiser of the year for the Sea Scout Ship. Columbia sponsors Sea Scout Ship Challenge #5111, one of the most successful and visible Ships in the Chicago area. Through donations from fundraisers such as this, we are able to provide these teenage women and men with valuable experiences they would not otherwise have. Our latest was a trip to Sea Base in the Florida Keys for an 8-day SCUBA and sailing live-aboard adventure. The funds raised at Chowdah Fest allowed us to subsidize two-thirds of the $12,000 cost of the tuition.  Eli’s Cheesecake was delighted to be involved in the event, serving up mini bites of cheesecake and dessert bars.

WSL_4-02-15Yesterday, April 2nd, Eli’s was honored to make a farewell cake for Marlaine Selip, the  executive producer of Windy City Live for the past 4 years.  Marlaine has stepped down from her position, and Eli’s was there to help send her off the best way we know how – with a giant cheesecake!

Eli’s Connects with Food Lovers at Localicious

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        This Friday, Eli’s will be attending FamilyFarmed’s Annual Good Food Festival at the UIC Forum.  The party, also known as Localicious,  gives food lovers the chance to connect with Chicago’s award-winning Chefs, and celebrates the local farmers who grow our food.  Join the party to see – and taste – the chefs prepare amazing savory dishes.  Enjoy food and beverage pairings from some of Chicago’s finest regional breweries & distilleries.

Eli’s will be on-site and providing desserts to those attending the event.  Party-goers will be able to enjoy Eli’s Original Plain, Salted Caramel and Honey Mediterranean Cheesecakes, as well as our Vegan Belgian Chocolate and Vegan Carrot Cake Cheesecakes made with locally-sourced tofu from Phoenix Bean.  To purchase tickets or learn more about Localicious, visit their website. For more information about the Good Food Festival, read this article.