YumUniverse Launch Party Recap

I have been surfing a sparkly, glittery rainbow wave of gratitude and excitement (Ron Burgundy-style) since August 12.

Over 600 people (six. hundred.) came through the Chicago Urban Art Society from 7pm-10pm to celebrate by sampling hundreds of servings of incredible organic spirits, juices, wine and sake, and over 3000 handmade YumUniverse recipe samples.

If you weren’t able to join us, or left the bash wondering who provided/created what, or where to get certain recipes, then nestle into your chair and read on. This post is a juicy one, folks.

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What YU treats did we serve up?

From our new Gluten-free, Dairy-free Baking eBook, TREATS we had:

Gluten-free, Vegan and Dairy-free Peppermint Cacao OMGs
Gluten-free, Dairy-free Almond Rooibos Tea Cookies
Gluten-free, vegan and Dairy-free Banana Walnut Muffins

These are recipes you can find on the site right now:
Raw, Dairy-Free Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream
Raw, Dairy-Free Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream
Vegan, Gluten-Free Mixed Berry Galettes (adapted from recipe below)
Vegan, Gluten-Free Apricot & Pear Galettes
Vegan Sweet Potato Chips
Raw, Buttery Kale Crackers
Raw Peach Pie, Mixed Berry and Strawberry Fruit Leather
Raw, Salty Sweet Kale Chips
Vegan Chocolate Crunch Bars

These recipes will be coming soon:
Raw, Salted Almond Cacao Truffles (eBook recipe)
Vegan, Gluten-Free Vanilla Orange Cake Pops (eBook recipe)
Vegan, Gluten-Free Vanilla Almond Cakes w/Orange Icing (eBook recipe)
Vegan, Gluten-Free Cacao Teff Cake Pops (eBook recipe)
Raw Chili Lime Nut Mix
Vegan, Gluten-Free Toasted Coconut Macadamia Crunch Bars
Raw Garlic Cashew Dip
Raw Chipotle Dip
Organic Elderflower Vodka
Organic Lavender Vodka Lemonade

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Even the hottest day of the summer didn’t keep inspiring and beautiful people from helping us celebrate. And big thanks to the energetic attendees of the Healthy Living Summit for kicking off their big Chicago weekend YumUniverse-style!

So, “With a Bang, the YumUniverse is Born”— and the press, tweets, blog lovin’ and feedback has been incredible. YumUniverse treats are being described as “amazingly good,” the space/decor as so “swanky” that people “can’t stop thinking about the YU launch party—the hippest website launch in the history of the world.” We are blushing.

My new friend, Chantel from Food Nerd Ciao! and her man, Hans, helped us (without a second thought) break down the entire party—I am still stunned by the kindness. Read her YU Launch recap and comment to win a YU Launch Party Swag Bag, including: a sample of Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer, a Kind bar, YumUniverse treats and homemade citrus cleaner, a YU button, stickers—thanks to Cali Silkscreen, discounts and more.

One of my favorite party comments came from Tea Time with Lin—“It was so nice to see Heather’s dream of YumUniverse come true.” I like to think of the “YumUniverse” as all of the people who came together August 12 to make that dream a reality. This includes guests, bloggers, friends, family and the army of sponsors who dedicated their time and talent to help me make it all happen. No way I could have done it alone. That’s what the YumUniverse is really all about—the community.

I cannot thank the incredible sponsors enough for their generous contributions. Pilsen’s own Flor del Monte (1) outfitted every nook and cranny of the Chicago Urban Art Society with vibrant yellow and green blooms of all kinds. Even as I type up this recap—a full 17 days later—I can see quite a few remaining vases filled with sunny, yellow flowers peeking at me from the living room. What a treat!

Hahn Family Wines rep, Elizabeth Parenteau (2), impressed guests with a tasting of a variety of organic and sustainable wines, including Smith & Hook Cab 2006, SLH Chardonnay 2006, SLH Pinot Gris 2007, SLH Pinot Noir 2006 and Huntington Chardonnay 2007. Hahn Family Wines is family owned; all of their vineyards are Certified Sustainably Farmed and the winery is Certified Green.

Our vegan DJ, Samone Roberts (3), mixed up some funk, soul, house and disco for our guests all night long—she rocked it.

The women behind Culinary Speakeasy, former Top Chef contestant Valerie Bolon (4), and personal chef, Rachel Winpar, donated 2 tickets to one of their 6-course underground dinners for our raffle benefiting the Organic School Project.

Thanks to all of the generous raffle donations from YumUniverse Launch Party guests, we were able to raise over $500 for the Organic School Project, which has encouraged healthy lifestyles for over 3,500 kids and thousands of families since their founding in 2005!

Momokawa Sake (5) provided premium Organic Junmai Ginjo that was revered as “delicious, smooth and clean” by multiple attendees. There was a line a mile long at their station, which was wo-manned by my dear, and beautiful, friend Rose (15).

The stunning Meg Bell (6), from Chicago’s first boutique distillery—KOVAL, served up mind-blowingly delicious organic whiskeys, while VeeV Acai Spirit (7) wowed guests with unique and tasty acai mojitos. Stay tuned for the recipe and a VeeV giveaway coming soon.

FAIR Trade Spirits (8) is the world’s first line of fair trade certified premium spirits, and they generously offered our guests some of Chicago’s first tastings of their smooth Quinoa Vodka (they have their official Chicago launch party coming up September 8th).

LA Boxing (9) donated an incredible amount of free training—with South Loop’s fave trainer/instructor Michael Chalmers (9) and a 3-month membership for our raffle benefiting the Organic School Project. Winners actually skipped and ran to receive their gift certificates. Now that is saying something!

IZZE (10) supplied the YumUniverse Launch Party with a variety of their delicious sparkling fruit juices. My father, Mark Crosby (19), who flew in from D.C. to surprise me (awww, major brownie points), served up IZZE with vodka for party peeps and admitted to hearing, multiple times: “Yes! I love IZZE!”

The RubHub (11) made hundreds of folks feel like a million bucks by providing them with quality, free massage by a handful of their best practitioners.

Swag bags were not only filled with goodies and coupons from our sponsors above, but guests also received samples of Stirlen plant-based yoga mat cleaner, sample of YumUniverse Three Citrus or Lavendar & Lemon Cleaner, lip balm recipe and discounts from Sprout Wellness NYC and samples and recipe book for Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer. Luckies.

Annika Howe (12,24), from Annika Howe Productions, is an angel sent from heaven—I am sure of it. Without this patient, creative, detail-oriented force of a lady, I would have fallen to pieces weeks before the event. She pulled together a creative dream team to take the YumUniverse launch party to another level and I cannot find the words to convey my gratitude for her existence on this planet, and her help with my party.

Thanks to Annika, stylist Morgan Blaul (13) came on board to help out too. She joined my father Mark (19), my love Mike (9), my pal Rose (15), lovely Marci (20), friend Denise (17), friend Dawn, Michelle, brother Chad and sister-in-law Shayda in tying baggies, serving food, setting-up, taking down, and running fire-drill errands all over town (night-of, even). The part that still floors me, is they ALL did it with a smile, the whole time. Wow. My amazing contributors Maya Henderson (21), Kathy Beymer (22), Valerie Bolon (4) and Robyn Paprocki (18) also deserve a big WOW too. They served party guests, answered questions, and have supported, promoted and created for me all year—they were, without a doubt, pillars of the event from inception to finish.

Stylist Sage Reed (23) dedicated a ton of time to create a dreamy lounge for guests with her collection of vintage aprons and a handmade/hand-sewn peapod and vine photo op. She has oodles of talent (which is why she is a set designer for the Oprah Show) and guests loooved what she created. Check out the photo op pics taken by Ben Speckmann:

And the thanking MUST go on! Brian Guido (16), mARTa Sasinowska (14), Ben Speckmann and Jess Dixon were the powerhouse photo crew covering every bit of the big bash. Check out all of their documentation in the YumUniverse Launch Party Flickr set.

This time last year, YumUniverse was merely a simple idea on a roadtrip out west. I’m blown away by what that idea has become and inspired by the infinite possibilities ahead of us.

Thank you thank you thank you!

Read the comments or add yours.

Comment Rules

  1. Thanks again for inviting me! I always look forward to new YumUniverse recipes :-).

  2. Lauren

    Congrats cousin! As usual, I am so very proud of you. It was a fabulous evening and we were so happy to be there. xoxo

  3. Chantel

    This party was a blast! The food was truly amazing! I can’t wait to try more of it at home, thanks for the blog love Heather!

  4. What a fun party! Great pics. Congratulations

  5. It was a great (hot) night with amazing food! I am still thinking about the tarts and fruit roll ups. And the ice cream, of course. Congrats, Heather!

  6. *loved* your event photos… especially those adorable teacups! I heart the one with the red handle… It looks like it was a fabulous event… wish i lived closer…! 🙂

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