Grand Rapids is very alive and kicking if the turnout for The Juice Ball at the JW Marriott is an indication. Over 1,200 guests packed the JW's International ballroom on the first weekend of January to help celebrate Chef Tommy Fitzgerald's 40th birthday and raise funds and awareness for Kids Food Basket.
The evening started with a JW style "80's cafeteria food" dinner complete with a cafeteria line, plastic trays, community seating and the sexiest looking lunch ladies on the planet. TV personalities' Emily Richett, Michelle DeSelms, Jennifer Pascua, Val Lego, Laura Velasquez and Lauren Stanton were the "sexy lunch ladies of the JW" for the dinner. And how can we forget the lunch lady head mistress of the night, Tommy Allen. Chef Andrew Voss and his team created a phenomenal menu of buttermilk fried chicken, mac-n-cheese and the best tasting bacon-wrapped meatloaf on the planet. Over 200 guests contributed $40 for the meal with $10 going to Kids Food Basket.
The Bimini Brothers performed a full-blown concert set to start off the evening. JW resident DJ, Todd Ernst, topped off the remainder of the party with his retro lounge tribute to the 80's.
"I couldn't think of better place than the JW to host this event," says Bridget Clark Whitney, KFB Director. "We'll be back next year."
Chef Tommy was in his usual crazy self dressing up in a baby blue tux and a mullet for the dinner and partying in his Juice Ball chef's jacket and bike helmet (with attached handles) during the party.
"It was a killer way to kick off the year in Grand Rapids," says birthday boy Chef Tommy. "It's just ridiculous to see how many people turned out to support Kids Food Basket."
"The Juice Ball is going to be even bigger and badder next year," claims Chef Tommy.
Thanks to Chef Tommy, Kids Food Basket volunteers and to the throngs of sponsors who contributed to the success of this bash. What started out as a small get together blossomed into the best fund raising party ever.