That's What Friends Are For

Spiaggia hosts a benefit for local sommelier-slash-rock star Henry Bishop

If you're a wine lover and frequent diner in Chicago, chances are you've been in contact with sommelier extraordinaire Henry Alfred Bishop III in one way, shape or form. Bishop's passion for film may have led him to the School of the Art Institute back in the '70s, but it was his knowledge of wine and his unique way of sharing it with people that kept him in Chicago, from 20-odd years as Spiaggia's founding sommelier to his more current post at Salpicon.

Bishop was diagnosed with throat cancer last year, and his industry peers are throwing him a benefit. "Una Notte Special" will honor the man once dubbed by an Italian journalist "Il Sommelier Piu Pazzo del Mondo" (the craziest sommelier in the world). Chef/partner Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia will host the event, taking place Tuesday, March 3 from 7-11PM, in the newly renovated private dining rooms of the four-star Italian restaurant. Funds raised from the benefit will help to defray the mounting costs of Bishop's ongoing treatment.

Acclaimed Chicago chefs and friends of Bishop, including Mantuano, Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Paul Kahan of Blackbird and The Publican, Priscilla Satkoff of Salpicon and Erwin Drechsler of Erwin Cafe, will cook for the event. And, of course, there will be an abundance of wine; renowned winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard and members of the Chicago wine community will be on hand to showcase some of their finest vintages. Ben Ferdinand of the Hart Davis Hart wine auction house will preside over a live wine auction, while a silent auction, raffles and a blind tasting contest will also enliven the festivities.

A $100 donation per person is suggested; reservations for "Una Notte Special" can be made on Henry Bishop's Web site or by calling 708-386-5994.

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