Chicago, IL.- The National Hellenic Museum hosted its most successful Kouzina event ever in its new state-of-the-art building. More than 20 of the best chefs in the business offered bite-sized delicacies to a capacity crowd at the Chef Tasting on Sept. 21. The Premium Dinner on Sept. 22 sold out, with a long waiting list of people who were hoping to sample the culinary magic of Food Network star chef David Schneider, the nationally recognized owner/chef of Taxim.
At the Premium Dinner, the National Hellenic Museum honored William C. Anton with its inaugural Cultural Icon Award. The award was just one highlight of Kouzina, a three-day benefit celebrating Mediterranean food and wine, Chicago’s trendiest chefs and artisans, and a sneak peek at Chicago’s newest world-class attraction.
The National Hellenic Museum celebrates its grand opening on Dec. 8, 2011, and the opening on Dec. 10 of the special exhibit Gods, Myths and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece. Kids play and learn in this engaging voyage back in time, navigating rocky caves and open seas on The Odyssey: A Hero’s Journey, belting out tunes in the Sirens Karaoke Cave, matching wits with Aristotle in a game of 20 questions, and climbing into a 13-foot-tall Trojan Horse.
Each year, the Cultural Icon Award will be presented to a Greek American to honor their professional achievements.
“We are thrilled by the runaway success of Kouzina. Chicago, a city of many world class museums, is welcoming the National Hellenic Museum in a big way,” said executive director Stephanie Vlahakis. “Having Bill Anton at the event to honor him with our inaugural Cultural Icon Award was very special. His remarkable body of work made this an easy decision for us. He sets the bar high for all future honorees.”
Anton, whose vision and leadership transformed the foodservice industry, is the Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the Culinary Institute of America. He founded Anton Airfood in 1989 and is the managing partner of Anton Venture Capital Fund, LLC.
“My grandparents emigrated to America all the way from a remote mountain village off the Ionian Sea,” said Anton, a second-generation Greek American. “I am humbled to be recognized with this significant honor by the National Hellenic Museum. The Museum will be a destination for people wanting to connect with the rich heritage of Greek history, and the powerful and compelling story that is the Greek American experience.”
Anton and his wife founded Anton Airfood, Inc. (AIA) in 1989 and promptly turned it into the second largest airport restaurant company in North America. For 10 consecutive years, Airport Retail News selected AIA as the “Best Airport Restaurant Operator.” In 2005, AutoGrill, the world’s largest Air Concession Company, acquired AIA.
Anton is the recipient of two of the most prestigious awards in the hospitality industry: International Foodservice Manufacturers Association Silver Plate Award for “Chain Operator of the Year” and Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Golden Chain Award” for Independent Operator of the Year.
The Anton Family Foundation has bestowed millions in generous gifts to charitable and cultural institutions. The Foundation gave the largest personal gift in the Culinary Institute of America’s history, which resulted in Anton Plaza.
The National Hellenic Museum is the only major museum in the United States dedicated to telling the story of Greek history, culture and arts from ancient times to today. The Museum connects all generations – past, present and future – to the rich heritage of Greek history and the Greek American experience. Located at 333 S Halsted Street in the heart of Chicago’s famed Greektown, the Museum opens to the public in November 2011. For more information, visit www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org.