Why? Playhouse Square Partners BBQ With a View!

Playhouse Square Partners, the young professionals group of Playhouse Square, is kicking off their 26th year in a style, with a rooftop BBQ, where you can not only have a great time, but also save on your Partners membership.

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BBQ With a View on Wednesday, August 3 31, will feature live music, lawn games, and cookout food and beverages, all with awesome skyline views from the rooftop of the Playhouse Square parking garage. You’ll also have the chance to mingle with Partners members and learn more about the different Partners committees.

Plus, you’ll be the first to learn the theme for the 26th annual Jump Back Ball, happening in February 2017!

BBQ With a View is open to all, whether or not you’re a Partners member. But if after all the fun and new friends, you decide to become a first-time member of Partners that evening, you will save 20% on all memberships at the $100 level and above.

All attendees will receive one complimentary drink ticket, as well as complimentary cookout food. Please bring cash for additional libations, as credit cards will not be accepted. RSVP by emailing sarah.stengel@playhousesquare.org.

I hope to see a lot of you up on the roof to send off the summer in style and learn more about all the fun and good work Partners has in store for the 26th year!

***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala!

Saturday evening, I found myself surrounded by incredible chefs and delicious food, which I suppose may not sound all the unusual around these parts, but I have to tell you that this particular evening was something really quite extraordinary.

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For a full list of the amazing chefs that participated, click here

The Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala is a bi-annual event which brings together some of Cleveland’s finest chefs to offer tastings, plus hometown favorite chef Michael Symon is at the helm with one of his star chef friends (this year, the charming Bobby Flay) to create a demo dinner right before guests’ eyes.

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But before I get into my favorite dishes from the tastings or the delicious demo dinner, I first have to say how amazing it was to be in a room of all these fantastic chefs who donated of their time, talents, and treasure to be part of this fundraising effort for Autism Speaks.

When Gala chair Jim Sammon and his wife Jennifer took the stage to commemorate Suzanne Wright, the founder of Autism Speaks who recently passed away, or when honorees Michael and Shari Goldberg took the stage to talk about their family’s experiences with autism, or when Chefs John Selick and Brian Doyle share pictures of their autistic children, there was so much love and support in the room that I was truly moved and so grateful for the chance not only to attend but to have served on the committee for this magical evening.

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I feel like sometimes the reason for events gets buried behind the food and drink and fun, especially when writing about them. But I wanted to put it front and center here. The work that Autism Speaks is doing to further research and support families dealing with autism spectrum disorders is truly remarkable and I got to see firsthand the deep impact the organization has on so many people in our community.

Now, onto the food and drink and fun…

There were so many great dishes in the tasting portion of the evening, but I definitely want to highlight some favorites. In the meat and seafood “category,” we enjoyed Chef John Selick of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center’s steak, Chef Brandt Evans of Pura Vida‘s tempura short rib, Chef Tim Bando of Grove Hill‘s grilled octopus salad, and Chef Fabio Salerno of Lago‘s scallop ceviche

In the cheese “category” (which should always be a category), we loved the goat cheese key lime tarts from Chef Dion Tsevedos of Chef Cube, the crisps with cheese and tomatoes from Chef Douglas Katz of fire food and drink, and the crostini with goat cheese and peaches from Chef Karen Small of The Flying Fig.

And in the dessert category, we couldn’t get enough of Chef Dante Boccuzzi of Dante Dining Group‘s double-baked brownie with ice cream and brandied peaches and Chef Brit-Marie Horrocks Culey of Coquette Patisserie‘s corn and roasted pepper savory dessert.

And in the most creative “category,” Chef Jonathon Sawyer of Team Sawyer Restaurants‘ pork crispy is the most interesting play on a Rice Krispie treat I’ve ever tasted (bonus points for the addition of gummy bears as a side).

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Then it was on to the demo dinner prepared by Chefs Symon and Flay. We started with a salad with burrata, mixed greens, and a crostini from Chef Symon. Simply dressed and absolutely delicious, this was a great start to the seated meal.

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Then Chef Flay prepared swordfish with a simple sauce with red wine vinegar and plums. Swordfish is always one of my favorite fishes, so having it prepared by such a famous chef was truly a treat!

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Chef Symon prepared prime rib with rosemary and garlic (and referenced his family’s tradition of having special dinners at Mountain Jacks and how that started his love of prime rib), paired with a simple, fresh Ohio corn and tomato salad.

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Both chefs focused on simple, clean flavors that let the quality of both the ingredients and their culinary skill shine through. Plus, the banter between these two friends during the demo dinner made the meal even more enjoyable!

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Speaking of simple flavors, our dessert was a creamy, delicious banana pudding.

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What a fantastic meal, from the tastings all the way through to the dessert! And having the chance to chat with these chefs about everything from Mabel’s BBQ to birthday twins (Chef Symon is mine!) to chef crushes (Chef Flay is my mom’s!) was pretty phenomenal!

From the compelling stories to the delicious food to the overwhelming sense of hometown pride in our talented group of chefs, this evening will remain in my memory book for quite some time!

***Disclosure: I am a member of the event committee for the Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala. In addition, I received 1 complimentary ticket to the event for promoting the event through the blog and social media channels. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Twilight at the Zoo!

One of my favorite summer events that is always just pure fun is Cleveland Zoological Society‘s Twilight at the Zoo. This event turns the Zoo into a huge dance party, as guests move from band to band (19 in all!) listening to great music throughout the night.

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One of our favorites: Run Avril Run 

Matthew and I started our evening in the VIP section. Twilight at the Zoo is an event where the upgrade to VIP tickets is really worthwhile.

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With VIP tickets, you get preferred parking and small bites from some great restaurants, as well as a more extensive bar selection. Plus, this year’s VIP event was partially held in Stillwater Place, which allowed for a break from the heat too!

We munched on spinach and artichoke dip and cajun pasta from Granite City Food & Brewery, roasted beef and mashed potatoes from Texas de Brazil, seared ahi tuna and coconut pudding from Bonefish Grill, shrimp and beef from Carrabba’s Italian Grill, chicken skewers and mushroom sliders from Aramark, grilled sweet corn from Fresh Fork Market, and pasta with roasted red peppers and sausage from Copper Stone Catering & Events Center.

We also ran into friends Alicia and Hans and found some shade to catch up and chat a bit!

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We checked out a lot of great bands over the course of the evening, from The Madison Crawl to SchoolGirl Crush

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…to Almost Famous

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…to Joe Moorhead Band

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…to Billy Likes Soda, who were my favorite performers of the night! Not only did they play a ton of great singalong tunes, including the crowd-pleasing “Sweet Caroline,” but they brought inflatable animals, extra hats and instruments, and more for the audience to play.

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Plus, as you can see, the band dressed in animal costumes to fully immerse themselves in the Twilight at the Zoo venue. This fun, enthusiastic approach came through in their music too and made them just a blast!

It was another great year at Twilight at the Zoo! Our feet are still tired from all the dancing! Plus, the event helps to raise money for the Cleveland Zoological Society’s educational programs, so the fun and frivolity are all for a good cause, too.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland Zoological Society Adult Scavenger Hunt!

If you’re a young professional in Cleveland, there are so many great groups that you can join, tailored to your interests and filled with fun activities, plus the chance to do good. The Cleveland Zoological Society‘s Ambassadors’ Circle is one of those groups.

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Members get a chance to meet like-minded young professionals, participate in fun events such as Urban Safaris, receive special discounts and invitations to Zoo events, and help support the Zoo’s animal care and learning opportunities for school children.

Membership starts at $10 per month for individuals or $15 per month for couples and includes 4 Zoo passes. You can email yp@clevelandzoosociety.org for more information.

The Ambassadors’ Circle is hosting an Adult Scavenger Hunt at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Thursday, September 1. This event is open to all and is a great chance to not only have fun, but also check out Ambassadors’ Circle.

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So, how does it work? You download the Scavify app before the hunt, then answer questions, upload photos and more throughout the Zoo. You can also participate in the event’s raffle to support Zoo scholarships.

There will be prizes for those who earn the most points on the scavenger hunt, but also for those showing the most spirit (costumes, custom shirts, and posting with the #wildaboutCLE hashtag all encouraged).

There will also be complimentary wine, beer, and small bites at this 21-and-over event. The Adult Scavenger Hunt is team-based, but you can sign up as an individual and be placed with a team. Cost to attend is $195 for a team of 6, $130 for a team of 4, $65 for a team of 2, or $40 for an individual.

Reservations are required, so click here to sign up and then get ready for a #wildaboutCLE evening at the Zoo!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote the Adult Scavenger Hunt. In exchange, I will receive complimentary reservations for 2 for the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

What a fun weekend it was! Friday afternoon, Mom and I took Jeffrey up to Cedar Point and Soak City for a few hours. One of the best parts about having a Cedar Point season pass is not feeling like you have to cram everything into one day. It’s a much friendlier pace, especially for Jeffrey.

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When I was a kid, I loved all the rides and I used to make Mom ride Ocean Motion with me at least ten times in a row. I’ve kind of grown out of my ability to do things like that. And while Jeffrey is too little for Ocean Motion yet, he’s definitely a ride warrior, so I’ll need a supply of Dramamine for our trips up there!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I had a fabulous Cleveland date night!

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We started with a walk through Public Square, where the community RNC Thank You party was in full swing. From live music to food trucks to tons of kids playing in the fountains, Public Square was absolutely hopping.

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And it made my heart so happy to see so many people out celebrating the smashing success of #RNCinCLE, as well as taking advantage of the gorgeous new Public Square.

From there, we went to dinner at Mabel’s BBQ. I had been dying to try Mabel’s and can’t believe it even took me this long to get there! The restaurant was packed, but we were able to get seats at the bar, where we could order our full meal and chat with the fabulous bar staff.

We started with the cracklins, paired with a Mabel’s Fancy Manhattan for Matthew and a Orange Blossom Gose (a collaboration between Platform Beer Co. and Old City Soda) for me.

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The cracklins were amazing! So light and crispy, yet packed with flavor and served with a side of Lawson’s Chip Dip (I dare you not to eat the entire thing of chip dip).

For dinner, we shared the Giant Beef Rib with pastrami spices. Tender, juicy, smoky perfection! We honestly didn’t even talk all through dinner, just sorted of grunted and mmm-ed. Very Fred Flintstone like.

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The menu says the Giant Beef Rib serves two or more. We finished the rib between the two of us, but were definitely very full afterwards! We used a bit of the Mabel’s BBQ sauce, which is mustard-based and quite tasty. But honestly, the beef rib with it’s crust of spices can stand on its own with no sauce.

For our sides, we shared the baked beans with chopped brisket and jalapenos, then the broccoli salad with peanuts and dried cherries for Matthew and the spaetzle and spicy cabbage for me. The beans were the one disappointment, as neither of us is a fan of lima beans. But everything else was delicious and complimented the beef rib well.

Somehow we made room for dessert: the key lime pudding for Matthew and the chocolate pudding with toffee popcorn for me.

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Both were very tasty and I found the chocolate pudding to be thick, rich, and very much like my most favorite dessert: pot de creme.

Mabel’s was relaxed, fun, and delicious: everything a great BBQ restaurant should be. I certainly hope it helps to make “Cleveland-style BBQ” a sensation!

After dinner, we went to the watch the Cleveland Indians defeat the Oakland A’s. But even better than seeing another Tribe victory was watching fan favorite Jim Thome get inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame. I worked at Jacob’s Field in the mid-to-late 90’s, so that particular group of players holds a special place in my heart. Thome’s acceptance speech and his dad’s emotion at his induction were so endearing!

The game was capped off with an awesome fireworks display, too!

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You can’t get much more Cleveland or much more perfect than our Saturday night!

Also this weekend, Jeffrey and I stopped by the Willoughby Fire Department to make a crayon donation.

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A young girl named Ella was recently a patient at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and found that their crayons were a bit old and in need of replacement. So Ella started collecting crayons and was amazed when she collected over 5,000 boxes to date!

And big thanks to the Willoughby firefighters, who were kind enough to give Jeffrey a tour of the fire house, let him sit in the trucks, and gave him this hat that he hasn’t taken off since!

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The Willoughby Fire Department is collecting new boxes of 24-count crayons to help Ella’s efforts. If you can, stop by and make a donation!

What a fantastic weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Cleveland Garlic Festival Giveaway!

One of my absolute favorite parts of summer in Cleveland is all the festivals. From food to music to food to games to food, there’s nothing better about this season. The 7th annual Cleveland Garlic Festival is coming up on August 27 and 28 on Shaker Square and promises to combine all the best things about summer festivals.

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You’ll be able to purchase delicious garlic-laced food (like Mitchell’s garlic ice cream), plus buy lots of varieties of garlic to use at home. There will also be a Top Chef Garlic Cook-Off, with well-known chefs and judges; live music throughout the weekend; a Mighty Locavores area for the kids; and Miss Garlic Festival complete with a parade.

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All of this festival fun benefits the North Union Farmers Market, which not only hosts delicious farmer markets throughout the Cleveland area, but also teaches communities about healthy eating habits.

Daily tickets for the Cleveland Garlic Festival can be purchased online. Tickets are $9 for adults, $5 for seniors (65+), and $5 for children (4-12). You can also buy a $50 VIP ticket for Saturday night, which includes 2 drink tickets, snacks, music, and private restroom access.

Or you can enter to win 2 weekend passes (good for general admission for both days of the Cleveland Garlic Festival) right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1.Leave a comment here letting me know your favorite way to incorporate garlic in your kitchen.

2. Visit Cleveland Garlic Festival and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @clevelandgarlicfestival and @whycle on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Follow @CleveGarlicFest and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

5. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted:

I want to attend the fragrant @CleveGarlicFest to benefit @NUFarmersMarket thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2016/07/29/why-cleveland-garlic-festival-giveaway-3 #giveaway

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment here each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, August 2 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by North Union Farmers Market to help promote the Cleveland Garlic Festival. In exchange, I will receive 2 weekend passes for myself and 2 weekend passes to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Recovery Resources Run for Recovery!

You’ve got to love when the chance to do a fun activity in a great location for a good cause all come together. That’s why I’m excited to tell you about the Run for Recovery to benefit of Recovery Resources and kick off National Recovery Month.

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Held on Saturday, August 20 at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Run for Recovery offers a 5K run, 1.5 mile wellness walk, and kids’ fun run. There will also be family-friendly activities, such as music and fun provided by the Children’s Museum of Cleveland. And all participants receive admission to the Zoo for the entire day following the Run.

Run for Recovery proceeds benefit Recovery Resources, which has been providing education and prevention, outpatient treatment, and supportive services to those dealing with mental illness and drug, alcohol, and other addictions in Northeast Ohio for 61 years.

You can register for Run for Recovery as an individual or a fundraising team. Registration prices are as follows:

  • $25 for 5K Run (this increases to $30 after Friday, July 22)
  • $15 for the 1.5 mile Wellness Walk
  • $15 for the Kids’ Fun Run

You can also purchase additional Zoo passes at a discount for family and friends to join you after the Run for Recovery at $6 for those 12 and up and $4 for those ages 2 to 11.

This is sure to be a fun and fit morning for a wonderful cause! Hope to see you at the Run for Recovery!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Run for Recovery. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary race registrations for myself. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

What a busy and fun weekend it was! We had nothing but family time planned and it was pretty perfect. On Friday evening, we went to the St. John Vianney church festival. From good food to fun games to live music, this festival is always on our summer must-do list.

This year at the festival, we also took Jeffrey for a ride on the Euclid Beach Rocket Car!

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He had so much fun (and I dare say we did too)! There’s something about flying along in the shiny silver rocket ship, listening to oldies music, and having passers-by wave at you. It was a perfect summer evening!

On Saturday, we had our friends Elizabeth and Andrew over for dinner, along with their adorable daughter Mia. Jeffrey loves having his friends over to play and he and Mia had a great time, especially since the weather was so lovely to be outside!

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Elizabeth and family are vegetarians, so I had to go outside my typical stash of recipes to try to find something to make. I chose this Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato and Broccoli Pasta recipe and was really happy with the results.

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The pasta was flavorful and satisfying and a great choice for summer. I also imagine the leftovers would have made a tasty chilled pasta salad…if there had been any leftovers! Even non-vegetarians can appreciate this tasty recipe.

Sunday was a super busy day, but also so much fun! We started out at a birthday party for one of Jeffrey’s little friends. It was held at the Orange Community Recreation pool. The pool is perfect for all ages, with a zero-depth wade in and a nice splash area, as well as a water slide and lap pool.

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The lunch at the party included pizza from Jim Alesci’s Place, which meant everyone enjoyed their food! And I think you can tell how Jeffrey felt about the birthday cake…

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After the party, we took Jeffrey to his first Indians game. The tickets we purchased for the game were part of a fundraiser for Autism Speaks. Since we never even made it to our seats, I’m glad the ticket price went to a good cause!

We spent our time getting Jeffrey his “first game” certificate (there are so cute and you can get yours at Section 176), doing all the standard photo opps…

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…and hanging out in the Kids Clubhouse. This area is awesome! It’s filled with fun toys from Step 2 and offers an air-conditioned spot for kids to run around and play during the game. There are plenty of baseball-themed activities, too, like this giant home plate for bouncing.

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Plus there are massive windows that look out on to the field, as well as some outdoor seating, so you don’t have to miss all the on-field action.

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Pro-tip: while the line to get into the Kids Clubhouse does keep moving, you’ll have time to get yourself a Summer Shandy to enjoy while you’re waiting. And once inside the pandemonium of kids, you’ll be glad you did!

Jacob’s (I mean, Progressive) Field holds a really special place in my memories and being able to take Jeffrey there was really special for me.

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Also, check out this awesome giveaway truck from W.B. Mason – Jeffrey has not put it down yet! 

It was a really wonderful summer weekend! Hope yours was lovely, too!

***Disclosure: I am a member of the Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala committee. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Twilight at the Zoo Giveaway!

We’re getting close to the 23rd annual Twilight at the Zoo, Cleveland’s largest fundraiser! On Friday, August 5 from 7pm-12am, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will be filled with bands, food, adult beverages, and lots of fun all to benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society.

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Nineteen local bands from a wide variety of musical genres will perform simultaneously throughout the Zoo during the event. You’ll hear everything from 80’s hits to swing to current pop favorites from bands like Disco Inferno, Robbing Mary, Almost Famous, and more.

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Admission also includes food, Samuel Adams beer, Twisted Tea, Beach House wine, and soft drinks. Plus, you’ll get to explore the Zoo and get to see some of the animals while dancing the night away under the stars. This is truly one of my favorite events of the summer! Twilight at the Zoo is always a blast!

Need proof? We love it so much, we made the video!

General admission tickets for Twilight at the Zoo are $85 and can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets right here (you must be 21 years + to enter and win this giveaway):

1.Leave a comment here telling me your favorite animal song (e.g., “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”).

2. Visit the Cleveland Zoological Society and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @clevezoosociety on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Follow @clevezoosociety and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

5. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted:

I want have a #wildaboutCLE night at @clevezoosociety Twilight at the Zoo thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2016/07/07/why-twilight-at-the-zoo-giveaway-2 #giveaway

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment here each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, July 12 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary VIP tickets for myself and two general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala!

This summer is FLYING by! Which means that the Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala happening Saturday, August 6 is just around the corner!

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Held in the Cleveland Convention Center Grand Ballroom, this event brings 20-plus chefs for an evening of decadence to benefit Autism Speaks. The list of participating chefs includes Jonathon Sawyer, Doug Katz, Anna Harouvis, Chris Hodgson, Jeff Jarrett, John Selick and many more.

There will be a tasting portion of the event, with small bites from a host of Cleveland’s favorite chefs. And then guests will enjoy watching Chefs Michael Symon and Bobby Flay prepare a demo dinner that will be served to them in a fun, family-style manner in the Grand Ballroom.

There are also fabulous live and silent auction items, including a seat up on stage with Chefs Symon and Flay, restaurant gift cards, vacations, and more.

All of the proceeds from the evening benefit Autism Speaks, which has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

Individual tickets for the Cleveland Chef Gala are now available. Individual tickets are $250 and include tastings from all the Cleveland chefs, family-style dinner service of the Chefs Symon and Flay meal, 2 drink tickets, and complimentary valet parking. You can sign up to purchase individual tickets online. Hope to see you there!

***Disclosure: I am a member of the Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala committee. I will also receive one complimentary individual ticket for helping to promote the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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