Tag: Professionals Group

Group of People Having Fun

Bastille Bash




By Judy Carmack Bross


Bereted and beautiful, the Bastille Day celebrators stormed the dance floor at the Alliance Française de Chicago recently for the second of two fete nationale parties on the same day planned by a young team of Francophiles.

 Sampling “guimauve” — French marshmallows!

It was the first of the Alliance’s in-person celebrations since the pandemic and the first planned by the newly re-connected Professionals Group. It began with an afternoon of family fun and ended with much joie d’ vivre for the tres chic set.

 Alliance Executive Director Mary Ellen Connellan told us:

 Mary Ellen Connellan, Marc Mangoubi, and board member Rachael Halstuk  Mangoubi.

 “Celebrating Bastille Day has always been a very important event held at the Alliance Française de Chicago, not only because of the day’s significance to France, but it has long been a way for the Alliance community to celebrate in unity with the French people of Chicago. Chapeau to the members of the newly formed Professionals Group of the Alliance who hosted this year’s Fête du 14 juillet.”

Guillaume Lacroix, Consul Général of France in Chicago at the marché

“Over 300 people were ultimately welcomed through our doors to enjoy French music, savor French food from our generous restaurant partners, browse un marché français, and join in singing la Marseillaise led by our Consul Général de France, Monsieur Guillaume Lacroix. The Professionals Group took everything into consideration to be certain something was planned for everyone. It was lovely to see the future leaders of the Alliance work together to create something so fun yet respectful of the traditions of this organization as we approach our 125th anniversary in 2022!”

Family fun in the courtyard

Guillaume Lacroix, Consul Général of France in Chicago

 We’ll let the three co-chairs, Sophie Edwards, Emily Giangrande, and Max Bonnard tell you all about it.

DJ Max Bonnard was born in Lyon and grew up in Paris before coming to the United States for an internship at the Alliance de Chicago.  Currently working in technology in Austin, Texas, he flew in, especially for the Bastille Day celebration.  Bonnard told us:

DJ Max Bonnard

“Quelle fête du 14 juillet!  One for the books. We had so much organizing and seeing everyone who came. La bonne humeur était contagieuse. After playing new French music (L’impératrice, Ichon, La Femme) for a few hours during the evening event, I played a mix of Chicago House, disco and Latin music. It was so much fun, I extended my set one hour!”

 RC Theriault, Andrea Baccara, Anaïs Baccara at the evening event

Emily Giangrande, who planned the afternoon family fete, which included a crepe station, face painting, balloon and banner making and cupcake decorating, related how the team pulled together:

 Veronique and Christian Coudray preparing fresh crêpes

“After imagining the events for months, it was wonderful to see how the planning came together. The Alliance staff and volunteers were phenomenal. Between the two events, we had over 75 people serving food, running games, pouring drinks, and performing all of the behind-the-scenes jobs that kept the day running smoothly. The volunteers came from our in-house volunteer program, the Professionals Group, Alliance Francaise staff, and even friends and family! Everyone worked together seamlessly and it showed in the guests’ experience that day!”

Regional Grey Goose Ambassador Emile Chaillot, Professionals Group members Sophie Edwards (event Co-Chair) and Tukiya Mwanza, and AF School Director, Geoffrey Ruiz

Sophie Edwards, a graduate student working on her MBA at DePaul, coordinated the food and drink from sponsors and many other aspects for the evening soiree.

“We are so lucky this year to have had such incredible sponsors! A variety of French restaurants, pâtisseries and beverage companies truly made our event a success. It was wonderful seeing the community come together again at the Alliance, from our restaurant neighbors to AF members, staff, volunteers and friends!”

  Emile Chaillot, Regional Grey Goose Ambassador

Venteux’s Chef Don Young plating Steak Tartare with smoked egg yolk, sunchoke, mustard, grilled cheese sandwich bite

Assorted macarons from Vanille Pâtisserie

Grey Goose Essences Summer Spritzes

For more information about the Alliance Francaise de Chicago and its future events and classes, visit: af-Chicago.org

Bienvenue to a Bastille Bash



By Judy Carmack Bross



 With the Fourth almost finished, why stop celebrating? Bring your beret and toast Bastille Day with the Alliance Francaise de Chicago on July 10? 

 Their Professionals Group’s first fete will be France’s National Day commemorating the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution.  Known in France for military parades and fireworks, Bastille Day France’s National Day at the Alliance will feature continental cuisine, classic French games for kids in the afternoon and DJ Max Bonnard spinning at night as the entire building and courtyard at Dearborn and Chicago is filled with revels.

Max Bonnard

Francophiles Sophie Edwards, Emily Giangrande and Bonnard have been at work since March planning what they call part sophisticated fete and part block party.  Many of Chicago’s top French restaurants are donating specialties.

DJ Max Bonnard, a former Alliance intern is coming in from Austin, Texas where he works in technology.  Born in Lyon and having lived in Paris, Bonnard was the committee’s Bastille Day expert in planning the event.

“As a child I remember seeing the military parades on the Champs-Elysees and then after sunset watching the fireworks all over the city.  In my twenties, I had a spectacular Bastille Day outside of Deauville, watching the fireworks over a Normandy beach.”

Sophie Edwards

Edwards, a graduate student working on her MBA at DePaul, coordinated the food from sponsoring restaurants for the soiree from 7-10 p.m.

“In addition to several surprises we offer steak tartare from Chicago’s hot new restaurant Venteux Brasserie inside the Pendry Chicago and Sablé cookies from Maison Parisienne with other hors d’oeuvres from avec, Sofitel and Marchesa.

“Beverage sponsors include Grey Goose and Two Brothers. Emile Chaillot, Grey Goose Ambassador, will be serving two summer spritzes during the evening event. The first Summer Essences Spritz will include Grey Goose Essences, St-Germain Elderflower liqueur, Prosecco & soda water. The second Summer Essences Spritz will include Grey Goose Essences, Martini & Rossi Fiero, Prosecco & soda water.”

Emily Giangrande

Giangrande headed planning for the family fete to be held from 3-5:30 pm. on July 10 which include a crepe station, face painting, balloon making, cupcake decorating and working together on a banner for the Alliance.

“We have been very mindful of COVID requirements and planned two events instead of our one traditional party. We are spreading out throughout the whole building for our activities,” she said.

The three chairs are all enthusiastic francophiles.  Edwards took classes there before spent a summer during college studying in Paris.  Giangrande counts herself lucky to have visited Lyon and taken French lessons in Paris just before the pandemic.  

To Bonnard, the Chicago organization has been like family.  “The Alliance brought me over from Paris to be an intern.  I planned to stay about eight months and went on to become a staff member before I moved to San Francisco and then Texas.  I have kept in touch and always want to support them.”

When the insurance business took Giangrande to Manila on business, she became involved in the Alliance there.  “Even though it was not an affiliate of our organization, it was wonderful to have that shared French culture.  The Alliance always makes you feel that you are at home.”

Alliance Executive Director Mary Ellen Connellan told us how the plan began:

“This year we have formed a professionals group that is made up of 35 civic minded young professionals who possess an entrepreneurial spirit and a love of all things French. When the planning of Bastille Day celebrations appeared on our radar, the group was thrilled to take on the task of planning our annual event. We are currently in the process of unrolling ‘La Rentrée’ of the Alliance with events planned well into the fall with something for everyone.

“This event for Bastille Day will be one of the first large-scale events we have planned this summer with a more official opening, ‘La Rentrée’, this fall with the unveiling of an extraordinary project, ‘Les Lumières’. This is the theme of our third collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Biennial. It will be illuminating, innovative, and “très français” thanks to a collaboration with BOA Light Studio and a partnership with the cultural service of the French Consulate in Chicago.  We are grateful that this project is supported in part by the Jean Bodfish Brown Memorial Fund, always making it possible to bring French culture to as many Chicagoans as possible!”

Throughout the summer the Alliance also offers language classes, summer camps, wine classes, book reading groups and other programs.

In the fall it will offer another highly anticipated annual Symposium focusing on the magnificent French garden.  Conery Hoffman, Alliance Manager of Outreach Programs, told us:

“It will include not only the historical evolution of the garden but also the art and the beauty of these iconic retreats while capturing what went on while no one was looking…possibly a pathway to the boudoir? Nothing too salacious, just enough mischief to raise an eyebrow…or two! It is our hope to explore what was designed for the patron and his life within it. Our goal is not to discuss how to plant a garden, rather we want to explore what life was like IN the garden!

For more information about both Bastille Day parties July 10 visit Af-Chicago.org and the link to the registration page’ https://myalliance.af-chicago.org/pages/cultural-events/2021/summer-2021/bastille-day.

The cost for the family event is: $20 members • $25 nonmembers and $10 children (6-12) and free for children 5 and under. 

The cost of admission to the evening soiree is $25 for members and $30 for non-members.