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Club International at the Drake Hotel hosts wine dinner with art


Club International at the Drake Hotel hosts wine-dinner with art at gala

Friday, June 20, 2009 The Club International at the Drake Hotel hosted a very special wine dinner. The event was extended to members of the club through invitation only.

This wine dinner, however, was a special event in that the Drake Hotel, which runs and operates Club International has had a new face life both in its décor and its management. New to club and the Drake is Mr. Eric Benamara, a long time veteran of Hilton International which owns the Drake Hotel, Mr. Benamara comes to the Drake as The Director of Restaurants.

Mr. Benamara is a man of unusually ability in that he is able to quickly asses a situation and act on it to take steps for improvement. What makes his ability so unique is his keen understand of people and relationships. Mr. Banamara knows the value of all those that work with him and he possesses the vision to be able see where his staff is and how best to approach them for solid positive results. His rule is to make the work environment a place where people want to be. People want to be around Mr. Banamara because he inspires them. He goes even further by having everyone work like weavers on a loom spinning out service and product with grace a polish.

Joining Mr. Benamara is the queenly Antoinette Cahill, also new to the Drake as Assistant Director of Restaurants. Ms. Cahill is a lady of high station and grace. He possesses the gift of enthusiasm and keen acumen to running a service program. She is always on the alert to find new things to enhance and make her programs better. Making things fresh and new is her key to success. Aside from her thorough business sense she possess a grace and charm of character that is so lacking in today’s service industry. Her sheer presence brings peace and harmony to the work place.

As you can image with having two such gifted and talented leaders you can expect the unexpected. Prior to the event I was contact by Ms. Cahill to see if I would be interested in having a display of my artwork at the up and coming wine dinner. I was delighted by this very kind gesture so with pleasure I accepted Ms. Cahill’s offer and told her that I would bring between eight and ten pieces for the event. This worked well for me because I had a luncheon at the Chicago Club that same day. I arranged it so that after the luncheon I would leave for the Drake and set up the oils for the wine dinner.

At 6:00PM the reception for the dinner commenced. Upon entering the club you could see the oil paintings gracefully displayed on polished brass easels making everything looked grand. All the guests entered the club and casually mingled as they looked at the artwork. The oils are all landscape paintings of Lake County, Illinois at various time of day, with a number of radiant sunsets.

As you walked to the left side of the club there was set up a table on a grand scale seating approximately 30 people. Few words can describe this setting with the beautiful centerpieces, flowers, shining silverware, and elegant china. All of this was complimented by the exquisite Tudor interior décor of Club International.
Mr. Patrick Crane, chef, and new to Club International set all of us up for the finest dinner one could ask for. Each course was set before us like a work of art. However, the real art was not in the presentation of the splendid cuisine but the otherworldly flavor that came forth as you tasted each portion, truly a savory meal that will remain with us for a long time.

All of this was given to us with the finest service that can be received anywhere. The mark of excellence in service is not how quickly one is tended or responded to, the mark of excellence in service is the flowing and graceful act of tending the guest in such a manner to enhance the dining experience. Deft, agility, and grace are the hallmarks of good service here at Club International. These merits were all attained and then enhance by the personable and polished manner of all the staff. We were always address by our name and in the most refined manner and tone that could be expected anywhere. There is only one word for the service at Club International – outstanding!

The wines at the event were from Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois. Mr. Sarafin Alvarado, MS is the Director of Wine Education for Southern Wine & Spirits. He holds the very special Master Sommelier title.

As each course progressed Mr. Alvarado spoke on the each wine and its significance to the course at hand. Further, he would educate us on the provenance of the wines. As the evening progress everyone became more relaxed and conversation flowed. Everyone one was at ease and had a wonderful time. The mixture of good company, outstanding food, superb wine and the most excellent service anywhere made for a successful wine dinner event.

Club International under the leadership and vision of Mr. Benamara and Ms. Cahill will be a sought at destination for the best in fine cuisine. Congratulations!


 art, oil paintings
 wine dinner
 hilton hotels
 club international

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