Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Abuzz With B. Aware Initiative
B., the farm-to-table restaurant in the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, is hosting a bee-themed culinary experience on Friday, March 10 to celebrate the upcoming start of bee season and the launch of its new honeybee education campaign. The “B. Aware” Dinner consists of five chef-crafted courses, all made with and paired to mead (fermented honey) from Wild Blossom Meadery in Chicago. The “B. Aware” Campaign is a new, broad-based initiative this year aimed at raising awareness on the declining honeybee populations.
“We want people to understand the importance of honeybees,” says Executive Chef Sean Curry, a certified beekeeper who tends to 10 hives at Oak Brook Hills Resort that he uses to harvest honey for recipes. “If they go, life as we know it changes drastically.”
In their ongoing effort to help “save the bees,” Chef Curry and his Chef de Cuisine, Jose Valdez, are teaming to give their guests a better understanding of honeybees throughout the year, beginning with the mead pairing dinner on March 10. As an official kickoff to bee season (which starts in early April in the Midwest), the B. Aware Dinner will give diners the opportunity to enjoy five gourmet courses, each incorporating mead, house honey, or bee pollen with local ingredients prepared by Chef Valdez. Guests will also receive mead wine or freshly-made mead cocktail pairings in addition to a bottle of mead to take home compliments of Wild Blossom Meadery.
Planned dishes include: apricot tart with blue cheese foam and traditional mead, poached organic salmon with mead and yuzu beurre blanc, and pan seared local lamb rack “Lambchetta” with honey pollen and dandelion greens, to name a few. The price per person is $70, and a percentage of proceeds will benefit The Honeybee Conservancy, a non-profit organization established in 2009 in response to the bee crisis.
Besides serving local, fresh, and seasonal cuisine, B.’s mission since opening last August is to increase bee appreciation in the community and with guests. Honeybee populations have been in steady decline for several years, which is a major concern since, according to the USDA, about one in three mouthfuls of food eaten benefits from their pollination. We need to take care of the bees now so that they can take care of us in the future,” says Chef Valdez.
As such, the B. Aware Campaign that’s launching on March 10 will engage in ongoing honeybee education, outreach, and fundraising. In addition to bee-themed culinary events such as the mead dinner that raise money for the Honeybee Conservancy to build bee habitats and sanctuaries, Chefs Curry and Valdez will also spearhead an array of other honeybee awareness programming. Planned 2017 initiatives for the B. Aware Campaign include a permanent beekeeper display and honeybee observatory inside the lobby, free public tours of the on-site hives (in full beekeeper suits), honey harvesting/extracting demonstrations, and hosted seminars and speaking engagements at the restaurant and at local libraries, schools, and television shows.