Friday, September 17, 2010

By: Candace Jordan

Memeber of Common Threads Board of Directors

My affiliation with Common Threads began with a glitzy party for Marc Jacobs in January of 2007. It was a packed house and I don’t think, at the time, I even knew what the event supported but I did know it was a GREAT party! So there I was, minding my own business, when a gorgeous woman came up to me and started asking questions. (She happened to be Linda Novick O’Keefe, Executive Director of CT). She was so charming and she asked me if I knew about Common Threads. I said I didn’t and she proceeded to tell me with such passion about this organization that I was immediately intrigued. Now, I am a proud member of the Board of Directors since 2008. What cemented my involvement was the dedication and clear impact that Common Threads has on so many children’s lives. When I first attended one of their after-school cooking classes, I quickly realized that there was a lot more to this than just cooking. To see the kids’ faces light up with happiness and understanding when they realize they will be capable of changing their families’ lives and keeping them all healthier than they have ever been before is an experience I will never forget. As a matter of fact, I brought several more of my friends to another class so they could see for themselves the importance of this program. Many of them are now involved today. Words can’t describe the difference Common Threads makes in the lives of so many children and their families across the country. I hope to see this organization grow into more national importance because of the great need for this very type of nutritional education and mentoring that we all need to grow and flourish. I am proud and honored to be a loyal supporter of Common Threads.

Check out the other links below for more Candid Candace stories about Common Threads:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

By: Hope Bertram


On the surface, the event is a fun evening of healthy eating and friendly competition as cast members from Billy Elliot pair up with the Common Threads kids to compete against each other as they work to create a healthy Sunday dinner. The audience, of course, will get to taste and weigh in on which team should win.

On a deeper level, the event is in support of Common Threads, a non-profit started by celebrity chef Art Smith, aimed at “provide underprivileged youth with the magic that accompanies tasting new, fresh foods and the satisfaction and confidence that comes along with preparing your own meals and learning new skills.” It also keeps the kids off the street. Here’s a great article by Art about Common Threads and what he’s up to now with Michelle Obama’s initiative to bring healthy foods into the school system. It was also a reality check to hear about some of the common threads participants backgrounds. Several of them come from single parent or disadvantaged homes. It’s so easy for children in negative environments to lose a feeling of self confidence and be successful. We are all very lucky that programs like Common Threads exist. They help to build kids up and break unhealthy patterns.

I was at the studio when the kids were cooking and was impressed by the meals the kids came up with – if you plan on coming to the event, you are in for a BIG treat. I was also impressed by the Common Threads kids. They were mature and confidant and more well spoken than I was at their age. They were handpicked for the program and have made several TV appearances. They believe in what they are learning and are spreading the word about healthy eating.

Common Threads website states that, “82% of Common Threads’ students limited their junk/fast food intake to one or fewer times per week.” How many of us can say that for ourselves?


Being involved with an event like this makes me want to find the time to actively volunteer again. There are so many great causes. What charities are you involved with?

Common Threads has a fantastic fundraiser coming up that’s a foodie lover’s delight. Check out their World Cook-Out for more information


If you haven’t seen Billy Elliot, it’s definitely a must see. If you go from September 28 – 30, a portion of the ticket proceeds will go to Common Treads. Register here and use code THREADS to purchase tickets.

Thanks to Broadway in Chicago for giving my friend and I wonderful Orchestra seats to the show. First off, I was very impressed that the house was so packed on a Tuesday. The acting, singing and dancing was phenomenal throughout. The story line started out a little slow, but picked up tremendously after my favorite scene. I don’t want to give away too much, but it did involve boys dancing and large than life dresses. The case received a very well deserved standing ovation. By the end of the performance, I was sitting at the edge of my seat (even though I knew how things ended) and wanted to run up and push Billy’s brother off the stage for being a jerk – he was the antagonist of the play, delaying Billy from realizing his dream for an entire year.

Posted from Hope Bertram’s blog The Year of Hope

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It was all about love. Love of each other, love and respect of human rights, love of diversity and the deep love between Chef Art Smith and his long time partner, artist Jesus Salgueiro. The wedding weekend took place in Washington, D.C. August 21-22 and there was something historic and exciting planned for every minute. Among the 400 guests were friends from Sweden, Malaysia, Costa Rica and from almost every state in the U.S. Saturday began with a walk/run/stroll to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a hot day but that didn’t stop anyone from taking part in the Blessing Ceremony on the steps of the issue and invoked the names of Lincoln and Washington and the fact that the Constitution provided equal rights for all and not just for some. Art’s dear mother, Addie Mae Smith, looked on adoringly as did Jesus’ large family. Art also thanked the lady who arranged to have the blessing ceremony performed on this historic spot as well as his trainer, Az Ferguson, who saved his life with his incredible wellness program. (Art has lost 95 pounds to date.)

The wedding ceremony and reception began at 12:30 in Art’s famous Art & Soul restaurant, is located in the Affinia Liason Capitol Hill Hotel. Security was very tight and everyone had to be checked by security guards manning clipboards. The ceremony was also presided over by Ms. Williamson and was incredibly touching. (See their vows below). They both wore identical dark suits and white tennis shoes decorated with the wedding date and hearts. After the ceremony, guests were treated to entertainment from the popular a cappella group, Straight, No Chaser.

Then the mingling and eating began with BBQ brisket, ribs, pulled pork, peach BBQ baked beans, lamb burgers, mac and cheese, homemade guacamole, heirloom tomato salad, buttermilk fried chicken, homemade potato chips, coleslaw and so much more. The food was sensational. But the most noticeable aspect of this entire day was the amazing love and respect that everyone showed to each other—a direct result of the type of people Art and Jesus are and the of way they treat and feel about each other.

Next was the 6 p.m. pool party on the hotel’s roof. Beautiful floral arrangements and bars were everywhere. DJ EricJones was already playing the hottest mixes. And, as you would expect, the food here was spectacular as well. They had even brought pizza ovens to the pool deck and chefs were busy making three types of pizzas from scratch right before your eyes. Art and Jesus had on beautiful white Indian tunics over their little bathing suits. When Art shed his tunic and did an Olympic dive into the pool, the photographers went wild! After a while, Jesus appeared, danced for a while before his new mate and then dived into the pool. A bit later, they announced that world-famous DJ Moby was in the house. A roar went up from the happy guests as everyone crowded around the two newlyweds and the dancing began in earnest! Moby really blew the doors off with his danceable, pounding mixes. It was mucho caliente on the roof my friends! After the pool party, guests wound up in Art & Soul’s bar on the main floor.

Art and Jesus are honeymooning in Cabo San Lucas. Below are the vows they read at the ceremony:

Jesus Art, as here now the world is my witness, I say to you: Your love sustains me and makes me strong. You inspire me. I am an artist, but you are the Art—my Art. And it is with utmost pride that I say that you are my Art. Without you, the canvas of my life would be empty and bare. There would be no colors, no brush strokes, no desire to paint. So, Art, Art of my Heart, I ask you to be my inspiration, from now into forever, to be the colors, the brush strokes, the paintings that I make. And may God allow me to replicate, in no small measures, the gleam in your eye and the tenderness in your heart, and may the entire Universe recognize in me and in my work the life force that you are that so fuels my passion. I love you, Art, with an Infinite Love. (After Jesus said these vows so lovingly to Art, Marianne Williamson said to him, “Gosh Jesus, I wish you were straight!” which broke the crowd up!)

Art - Jesus, as here now the world is my witness, I say to you: Your love for me has been transforming. Because of the gift that you are, because of the vision that you hold, it is as if I have been given new eyes. You have made my life a kaleidoscope of colors. While I may set the table, be it known that you are the banquet and the feast, the incomparable spice in my life, the salt of the earth. So, Jesus, heart of my heart and soul of my soul, I ask you to share with me my life, in every respect, to the very end of time. While indeed I may set the table before you, be there no doubt that it is I who eat from the palm of your loving hand. Yes, you are an artist, but you are also a great teacher, and above all I have learned humility from you. Jesus, I love you. I love you with these new eyes, with this new heart, with a never ending longing in my soul.

(Art and Jesus requested no gifts but rather a donation to their charity, Common Threads.)