event recap: 2017 Five Star Sensation (to benefit University Hospitals’ Seidman Cancer Center)

This Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 Five Star Sensation benefiting University Hospitals’ Seidman Cancer Center, presented by Huntington Bank. Two years ago, at my first Five Star, I made the rookie mistake of going ALL IN on ALL THE EATS way too early (I must have been trying to keep up with my husband!), and was full before I made it to the dessert tent. BOOOOOO. Even back then in 2015, I was a seasoned food and wine event pro, so I didn’t know what I was thinking!! In 2017 though, I was flying solo and so the eating plan was all in my hands…

The things I LOVE about Five Star Sensation:

  • The chefs: Not only did Chef Host Michael Symon bring together Cleveland’s finest culinary pros, chefs come to Cleveland from all over the world to support this event.
  • The food: All those high caliber chefs pull out all the stops to impress the attendees with their best dishes.  See my pics below!
  • The wine: I’ve been lucky enough to work with the team at Vintage Wine Distributor whom brings together some of the most incredible wineries to wet your whistle. And the fact that rosé is so popular this year was a very good thing for me that night, ha!
  • The dessert tent: As the event takes place across several tents set up over the parking areas at the Eastern Campus of Cuyahoga Community College, the first two tents greet you with all the savory items one can imagine. But when 9pm hits and the doors open to the dessert tent, then the party really starts! All those sweet offerings combined with mood lighting and dance music make for one very fun time!
  • The reason: Since 1987, renowned chefs, master vintners and passionate volunteers have donated their time and talent every two years to create an event with real impact. To date, the event has raised more than $18 million to support research and community outreach programs at UH Seidman Cancer Center. Incredible!!

So enough talk, let’s eat! Here’s what I enjoyed at this year’s Five Star:

fire food and drink‘s biscuit & jam | #yeswayrosé | Stuffed squash blossoms from Culinary Vegetable InstituteThe Chef’s Garden
Grilled Avocado from Fahrenheit Cleveland | Lamb from Urban Farmer Cleveland | Pasta from Chef Jonathon Sawyer

The table where EVERYONE told you to go: Sam Choy’s Poke To The Max station

Pasta from Flour | LOVED these tablescape designs | A spicy chicken with corn salsa bite
Chef Hubert Keller‘s soup offering | Wines as coordinated by Vintage Wine Distributor | The perfect chance to try octopus!

Selfies with Chef Host Michael Symon | My favorite foodie couple celebrating their anniversary
My work husband and his husband — my dates for the evening! | All smiles with Chef Eric Williams from Momocho

The carrot cake of my dreams made by Samantha Ward | Ganache and macarons from Pistacia Vera – does it get any better? | Natasha MacAller‘s saint-and-sinner dessert offerings

Many thanks to the entire University Hospitals team for inviting me to attend this year’s Five Star Sensation! Follow University Hospitals on Facebook and Twitter, and UH Seidman Cancer Center on Instagram at @uhseidman to keep in touch all year long.

Want another POV on Saturday night’s festivities? Check out the Edible Cleveland blog for their experience! (Written by Lisa Sands, pictured above)

Disclosure: University Hospitals offered me and a guest the opportunity to attend to the 2017 Five Star Sensation event. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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event preview: Five Star Sensation (to benefit University Hospitals’ Seidman Cancer Center)

As an event professional, a blogger that attends a lot of fundraisers and a Clevelander that LOVES food, I attend my fair share of food and wine events. And while I do have my annual favorites, there is one that happens every other year that is worth clearing my calendar for WAY in advance:  Five Star Sensation benefiting University Hospitals’ Seidman Cancer Center, presented by Huntington Bank.

Image c/o University Hospitals’ Facebook page

Five Star Sensation, one of the region’s most anticipated food and wine events, will take place this Saturday, June 24 at Cuyahoga Community College’s Eastern Campus in Highland Hills. We attended the event back in 2015 and couldn’t recommend it more! Check out my photos from that year’s festivities below…

That time Food and Wine magazine’s Instagram account regrammed my Five Star 2015 collage. I might have started jumping up and down with joy at the event…

The country’s most celebrated chefs and vintners donate their time and talents to this UH soiree. This year, the chef line up includes host chef and beloved Cleveland native Michael Symon, his Food Network friends Aarón Sánchez, Hubert Keller and Marc Forgione, plus some of my local favorites including Anna Harouvis, Doug Katz, Rocco Whalen and Eric Williams.

That time I met Chef Hubert Keller and didn’t faint. He was SO nice, y’all!

In addition to phenomenal food and wine, Five Star Sensation offers one of the region’s most compelling charity auctions. The event organizers have partnered with BidPal to make the auction open to the public, so anyone can bid on items even if you can’t attend the event! You can go to the Five Star BidPal page, register and bid on the auction items and experiences, including a special, all-access Behind the Apron Five Star experience and the chance to see Hamilton at Playhouse Square. YES PLEASE! 

That time the Mayor of Beachwood egged us on to kiss for the camera.

Are you a young professional and more of a night owl? To help spread its reach and add to the fun, Five Star Sensation is offering a $100 ticket for young professionals for the first time this year! The “Chef de Partie” ticket option is an exciting new way to sample Cleveland’s most delicious party. The Young Professional Ticket offers access to Club Five Star starting at 9:00pm — just in time for gourmet lite bites, an open bar, a world class wine pull and music by DJ Mike Filly.

Visit fivestarsensation.org to purchase your tickets for this Saturday’s event!

This event sells out every year, so you gotta purchase tickets today — buy yours now and I’ll see you at Tri-C that night!

Follow University Hospitals on Facebook and Twitter, and UH Seidman Cancer Center on Instagram at @uhseidman. Follow along with the Five Star fun at #fivestarsensation.

Disclosure: University Hospitals offered me and a guest the opportunity to attend to their June 24th, 2017 Five Star Sensation event. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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#IheartCP: Baby’s First Visit to Cedar Point

For as long as I can remember, I could count on at least one visit to Cedar Point being a part each and every summer. Whether it was a family field trip, a high school marching band excursion, an afternoon spent as part of a weekend island-ing or a full-on, park-open-to-park-close mega day, the season wasn’t complete without a trip to The Roller Coaster Capital of the World. And for us, it’s always just been a one-tank-trip away!

Now that we’ve added to our flock, I have wondered how Baby Brenna would fit into some of our old traditions. But whatever crazy activity we’ve thrown at her, she’s taken the challenge like a champ, so why not introduce her to one of our favorite summer activities? Off to Sandusky we went!

We did our best to fit in as much as we could during our visit to Cedar Point last Saturday:

  • checking out all the Little Thrills and kids rides meant for Cedar Point’s youngest visitors
  • lunching at one of our NEO favorites, Melt Bar & Grilled
  • splashing the afternoon away at the new Cedar Point Shores
  • making new friends and meeting new animals in Frontier Town
  • splitting a Toft’s Dairy strawberry ice cream waffle cone among the three of us (should have got a second, ha!)
  • finishing up the day with B’s first ride on the Midway Carousel

My words can’t fully express how much fun all three of us had, so I’ll let these moments via this YouTube clip speak for me!

Ready to experience America’s Roller Coast? Visit Cedar Point’s website to start planning your visit today! Cedar Point provides fun all season long for all its visitors, no matter the age. Check out a full list here of upcoming events, but here are some highlights:

  • Light Up the Point: Tuesday, July 4
  • Cedar Point Nights: July 14 through August 13
  • Last Blast of Summer and Food Truck Wars: August 21 through September 4
  • HalloWeekends: September 15 through October 29

Sharing your Cedar Point experience? Make sure to tag #IheartCP, #CedarPointShores and #CedarPoint in your posts, plus @cedarpoint on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. We’ll be doing the same when we’re back to the Point this summer!

Disclosure: Our many thanks to Cedar Point for making this post possible! In exchange for sharing my honest experience on social media and in this blog post, my family received complimentary park admission and parking. I also received compensation for my participation. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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Baby B & Me: Learning How to Swim at Goldfish Swim School

I remember one specific dog walk with Hans while I was pregnant last year. We were throwing around ideas of what our baby girl would be interested in, in what activities she would partake. And if she will be anything like I was as a kid, I’m already terrified of the potential after-school extra-curricular schedule she’ll have, ha! But I know one activity we’ve already started and couldn’t imagine it not being a part of our lives: swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School

Hans and I been taking our baby Brenna to swim lessons at the Fairview Park Goldfish Swim School location since the end of March. Goldfish welcomes swimmers as young as four months of age so we took that opportunity when she turned four months earlier that month to get our little one in the water. Many were surprised that we were starting her in classes so young, but it’s the perfect chance to get them accustomed to the water at an early age.

I found it incredibly easy to get signed up for our Saturday morning sessions. A quick phone call with the Fairview Park staff to review the several days and times available for Brenna’s class level and we were scheduled to start that weekend. We all dove right in (figuratively!), arriving for our first class at their brightly colored and extremely clean facility. Brenna was all about it from class number one!

WHAT BRENNA LOVED: Brenna took to the water immediately (not a single tear was shed, hurrah!), although she seemed a bit uninterested in the activities at first. That would quickly change as she started to recognize regularly used items like Bubbles, Goldfish’s mascot, pictured above!  Brenna’s favorite activity by far was the Waterfall of Balls, which allowed us to retrieve brightly colored balls from around our designated lane. B figured out how snag more than one at a time, which always brought a smile to her face! She also LOVED the ribbons her teacher gave out for Water Safety Days!

WHAT HANS LOVED: Hans really appreciated our instructor, Angel, and her enthusiasm for teaching. Every Saturday, Angel would joyfully greet Brenna, even incorporating her and the other kids’ names into the songs of the class. Angel was always incredibly helpful, sharing tips along the way with parents to help the babies acclimate to the water faster. Hans’ favorite class activity? Sitting Brenna on the duck-shaped float which taught Baby B independence in the water. So sweet!

WHAT I LOVED: I adored the routine that our Goldfish Swim School classes provided to our family during a very hectic time in our lives. Being two full time working parents with an infant and two dogs was calamitous enough — then we decided to put our house on the market. Selling it in less than a week meant we were immediately then house hunting! With having so much pulling us in so many directions, I was grateful to have swim lessons to refocus us each weekend. Whether I was in the water with Brenna or watching from the viewing area, my attention was fully on her — no distractions, no to-do lists, no worries. Just pure fun! My favorite activity? I loved singing along with all the songs during class! “This is the way we kick our feet, kick our feet, kick our feet…”

And now, after two plus months of Goldfish Swim School classes and with summer upon us, our little fishy is ready for summer at the pool! We had a couple opportunities already to put her swim lesson skills to practice — one at Cedar Point Shores and the other in our own backyard — and she was happy as a clam to be back in the water again!

You can tell by that happy baby face that we’ve got one special little swimmer on our hands. I could have never imagined Brenna being so ready for water activities at such a young age! I can’t wait to not only continue lessons but also introduce her to future pools, splash pads and water activities later this summer. That wouldn’t have been a possibility without the confidence and skills she learned during her classes at Goldfish this Spring, so I owe a very special thank you to our teacher Angel, manager Mike and the entire team at the Fairview Park location!

Stay in touch with Goldfish Swim School‘s Northeast Ohio locations via their Facebook pages: Fairview ParkCleveland East Side and Hudson. You can also find them on Twitter and Instagram! You can find the closest location to you here at their website.

Disclosure: This post was made possible by Goldfish Swim School. The company offered my daughter complimentary swim lessons in exchange for my honest feedback about our experience. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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