Event Details

826CHI’s sixth annual chef-focused and student-centric gala, Eat Your Words, will take place at the magnificent Chicago Cultural Center. Humbly nicknamed the People’s Palace, it served as Chicago’s first public library and has been a beacon of arts, literacy, and community for decades.

Thursday, October 4th

VIP Hour, 6pm - 7pm | General Admission, 7pm - 10pm

Chicago Cultural Center | Bradley Preston Hall | 78 East Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602

Sidney R. Yates Gallery | 4th Floor

$225 General Admission | $250 VIP

826CHI is thrilled to invite you to gather with our community together in this space to celebrate Chicago students and their stories as they join the ranks of our city’s renowned artists and writers. Eat Your Words is attended by 300 socially-engaged, food-loving Chicagoans—including philanthropists, community leaders, as well as award winning chefs, authors, and thought leaders—who share in the belief that the ability to communicate well is critical to the long-term success of young people.

This year, 826CHI will feature the culinary talent of:

Guests may rent a personalized bar cart for your table with champagne, white wine, red wine, cocktails, and your own personal bartender supplied by Boka Restaurant Group


Featured Guest: Alpana Singh


Alpana Singh is a Chicago-based restaurateur and sommelier, famous for her restaurants 7 Lions and Terra & Vine, will return to the Emmy award winning program Check, Please! as host of the 18th season. Alpana's work played a key part in bringing the James Beard award to Chicago in 2015. Her other philanthropic efforts include her work with Deborah's Place, an organization that assists and empowers women facing homelessness. 

TOni Preckwinkle

Toni Preckwinkle is 35th president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, an office she has held since 2010.  She served 19 years as Alderman of the 4th Ward before being elected as Cook County Board President. Having taught high school history for ten years prior to her political career, President Preckwinkle is an advocate for education in Chicago.

She will speak during the VIP Hour, sharing our vision of how literary arts education and writing help build a stronger Chicago. There will not be media availability.

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Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle, and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine (The Believer). McSweeney’s also publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. Eggers is the co-founder of 826 National, a network of seven tutoring centers around the country.


Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning writer and 15-year blogging veteran known for her razor-sharp wit, and her take on all things pop culture, race, media, and technology. Her debut book I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do Better Manual is a series of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digital, connected lives. It passes on lessons and side-eyes on life, social media, culture and fame, addressing those terrible friends we all have to serious discussions of race and media representation to what to do about your fool cousin sharing casket pictures from Grandma’s wake on Facebook.


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Lional Brother El Freeman is a spontaneous composer, multidisciplinary creative, and educator who uses music and visual arts to express ideas while connecting people to a higher plane of consciousness. Raised in the hip hop aesthetic and DIY movement, he constantly looks to push the boundaries of music as an expert in the Live PA field. Formally trained as an Audio Engineer and Graphic Designer, he has acquired many different skills running The Beat Bank, an independent record label. 


Guests should enter the Chicago Cultural Center from the Randolph Street entrance. Eat Your Words will happen in the Sidney R. Yates Gallery on the 4th floor.


20 East Randolph Street | Millennium Garages


1276 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622  •  www.826chi.org • 773.772.8108