Who doesn't love hanging out at the beach with good people? Oh, also with an endless buffet of crawfish, corn, potatoes and open bar. This was my last Saturday in June at Crawfish for Cancer, a crawfish boil hosted in Atlanta, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, DC and NYC. Proceeds benefit research for Multiple Myeloma, an incurable form of Cancer.
This event was at the beautiful Caffe Olivia at Ohio Street Beach in Chicago. I was greeted warmly and walked in to the sounds of a band quartet and an well-dressed, exuberant crowd. The bar served beer including Miller Lite and Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy and Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, which made for a delicious Arnold Palmer.
Making my way towards the back of the event, I took in the stunning view of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive with the skyline towering behind, the sun shining down on the crowd, and people relaxing on the beach just steps away. Music emanated from yachts dotting Lake Michigan, as they were having parties of their own. Then, there was another sight to behold: a giant silver chef's pot boiling crawfish, corn, potatoes and oranges over an open flame.
The chefs carefully monitored and tested the crustaceans as they neared perfection. Once they were perfectly boiled, the chef parted a crowd of tipsy yuppies like the Red Sea as he carefully transported the pot to a long table donned in a red and white checkered tablecloth, sprinkled in Cajun seasoning from end to end. People watched with their eyes wide as he emptied the steaming pot across the table, filling it with bright red crawfish, yellow corn and potatoes and orange halves. I took the liberty of scooping two paper plates together for a failed attempt at scooping a serving. I resorted to picking up boiling hot crawfish, corn and potatoes with my bare hands into my plate, wiping the red juice and seasoning on my white shorts.
I sat down at the event coordinators table, and my picture was taken after I struggled to open crawfish for the first time, appreciating every tiny morsel of meat in each one. It tasted similar to crab, and luckily I could fill up on potatoes and corn due to the small nature of crawfish.
Others hummed around me, discussing plans for after parties while some resorted to spending their remaining time at the open bar. Taking in the feeling of sand under my feet, the view of the John Hancock amidst the Chicago skyline, the beautiful blue water, the bustling preppy crowd and the smell of seafood, I felt very grateful. Events like this make me love Chicago more and more.