Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's official. Chicago and New England Collide (at Da Lobsta) - starting tomorrow!

Da Lobsta tested a new lobster roll today. It officially rolls out tomorrow. Make room Chicago. The Da Lobsta Lobster Mac & Cheese Polish Sausage is here. The roll will be available at both the 12 E. Cedar and Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton) locations as well as the Da Lobsta Food Truck -- $14.94.
You can expect their delicious toasted New England style bun, strip of special red sauce, a Vienna Beef Polish Sausage topped with Da Lobsta's Signature Lobster Mac & Cheese. Yum.
 This is what happens when Chicago and New England Collide!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chicago Artisan Soap Maker Deborah Kraemer Embarks on Global Mission

Chicago Soap Company Travels to South Africa
on Illinois Trade Mission
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   When artisan soap maker Deborah Kraemer launched her line of all-natural soaps fifteen years ago, under the brand name Abbey Brown (, she had no idea that her skills and business savvy would lead to an invitation by the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago and the Illinois Small Business Development Council to represent them at their 2014 trade mission to South Africa. Yet this week, Kraemer will join a group of noteworthy Illinois companies who will spend ten days in South Africa, building new business relationships while showcasing their products and capabilities.
   Kraemer not only plans to meet with a wide range of international personal care companies to foster new commercial partnerships, but she also expects to meet with African economic development organizations to conduct her personal mission of being a global advocate for teaching soap making skills.
   "Natural soap may seem like a simple, personal luxury to most Americans," says Kraemer, "but for the many people of Africa and other parts of the developing world who have limited access to personal hygiene products like soap, learning to make their own natural soaps, using ingredients found right in their own locale, is a compelling and cost-effective way they can improve their health. It's also a skill set; a way to earn a living. Natural soap making also is a sustainable process, and that's become a priority throughout the world."
Abbey Brown interior 400 pixels w border   Kraemer, originally an educator, began making soap because her son had very sensitive skin that reacted terribly to commercial products. The all-natural products she made were extremely beneficial, so she continued to hone her skills and her reputation grew. She officially launched Chicago Soap Company in 2000, focusing on her Abbey Brown line of products, at Chicago's city farmer's markets and by 2003 had begun her online store. In 2006, she opened the spacious Abbey Brown Soap Artisan and Gift Shop, a retail location at 1162 W. Grand in Chicago (telephone: 312-738-2290).

   Kraemer was one of the founding vendors at the Chicago French Market and was there for four years. She also had a retail presence for three years at Navy Pier. She also continues to sell her products at many venues and markets throughout the area, yet her direction is increasingly moving in the direction of wholesaling and educational activity.
Tarot Perfume collection 300 pixels w border   The business has become so successful that she is taking it to the next level, concentrating on building the Chicago Soap Company brand-Abbey Brown will remain one brand under the corporate umbrella. She also is launching a new product, Tarot, a line of solid, all-natural perfumes.

   The company now produces more than 170 all-natural products: soaps ($2-$10.50), body butters ($18), body oils ($9), shea balms ($9), lip balms ($3-$4), mud soap ($10), hydrosols ($10), face serums ($8), shaving soaps ($8), shampoo bars ($7.50), bath salts ($7-$30) and pet care products (soaps and paw balms, $6), candles ($7-$16), room diffusers ($1.50-$30), petals and herbs ($4-$10), essential oils ($10-$25) and carrier oils ($7-$12). There are also a variety of beautifully decorated gift packages and a soap of the month club.
Private label products 300 pixels w border b   The Chicago Soap Company will expand its business in part by growing its wholesale and private label enterprises. "We've been producing private label products for a long time, but now we've reached a level of efficiency and capacity where we can service larger accounts," explains Kraemer. "One of our strengths, in addition to making products of exceptional quality and purity, has been our creative packaging. We work with a cadre of local Chicago artists to create beautiful, often whimsical, packaging. Since soaps and related items are a very personal product and are often purchased as gifts, we have always insisted that our products be as attractive to look at as they are amazing to use."
Private Label Transit 300 pixels w border   Kraemer is quick to draw a distinction between artisan soap making as a business versus soap making as a craft. "We are very pragmatic about our business growth. We want the Chicago Soap Company to continue to grow as a profitable and highly responsible enterprise. We recognize that there is a huge and growing market for our products for home use as well as in institutional settings, including hotels, resorts, restaurants and retailers. We can produce highly-customized products to meet the specific needs of our clients. By private labeling our products for them, any number of corporate entities or organizations can reap the benefits."
Chicago Soap Company soapmaking photo 300 pixels w border    The educational mission of Chicago Soap Company continues to be an important part of the company's business culture. "We have developed many different educational programs," says Kraemer. "Not only do we teach soap-making for the general public who want to make soap as a hobby, but we also offer a series of classes that teach people how to make soap and, in addition, how to operate small businesses, so they can start their own entrepreneurial ventures. We teach them the basics of accounting and bookkeeping as well as sales and marketing techniques so they can succeed as business people." Chicago Soap Company also maintains highly regarded apprenticeship and internship programs.
   Kraemer has held classes for many groups, from non-profit organizations that want to sell soaps as fundraisers to educational programs that focus on serious job skills. She schedules classes for groups of convention goers, tourists, and even for kids' birthday parties.

   Kraemer believes that interest in natural soaps is following the same path that natural, sustainable foods took during the past two decades. Soap awareness has been just slower to reach a mass audience. "People have become accustomed to thinking carefully about their food-the natural purity and wholesomeness of the ingredients, the sustainable and caring way in which they are produced. The same awareness is now springing up regarding personal care products.
   "It's no longer news that commercial, mass-produced soaps are often made with chemicals and additives that aren't healthy and degrade our environment," Kraemer continues. "For example, the surfactant chemicals typically used by large manufacturers to make soaps and shampoos generate more lather are simply not good for us, and the healthy ingredients they do put in these products, such as aloe, are used in such small quantities that they hardly make any difference."
   As a craft, Kraemer is still fascinated by the many creative recipes and techniques that can be used to produce personal care products naturally. "We can choose from many, many ingredients to make soaps that meet particular needs. Some soaps are exfoliating, while others are extremely mild for sensitive skin. We use natural, healthy oils, fresh herbs, fruits, spices, and other all-natural ingredients to add fragrance and functionality-all without synthetic chemicals and additives."
   Kraemer, always an educator at heart, envisions Chicago Soap Company establishing a museum of soap making in the years ahead. "Soap making is a historical craft that has been around since Biblical days. There are so many aspects of it that are worth knowing about. We hope the museum will be a unique destination that everyone, young and old, will find fascinating and enjoy."
   For more information about the Chicago Soap Company and to purchase products online, please visit the websites: and

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hot Potatoes at Delightful Pastries: August 19 is National Hot and Spicy Foods Day and National Potato Day

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The August heat is not the only reason why things are hot at Delightful Pastries. August 19 is National Hot and Spicy Food Day as well as National Potato Day. Delightful Pastries is all geared up to help show Chicago how they make things spicy and keep you guessing with their unique potato dishes.

Delightful Pastries adds spice and flavor to their sandwiches with three of their homemade and flavorful Piggly Wiggly Bites and Sauce 2 lr 300sauces. The original sauce options include a Japanese inspired sauce (included with selected sandwiches), made with teriyaki and mayo. Thai Cowboy Sauce (included with select sandwiches), is made with buttermilk ranch and homemade sriracha. What the Puck sauce (included with select sandwiches), is a homemade barbecue sauce with ghost chili pepper and bourbon. These sauces are sure to add a kick to your sandwich and leave you trying to imagine how you enjoyed a sandwich without them ever before.

Pierogi Party Tray etPotato lovers have never met a potato dish they did not like. Delightful Pastries is ready to serve you a potato dish unlike anything you have ever tried. If you are looking for something different, try Delightful Pastries' Pierogi ($6 for 4, $8 for 6) a traditional Polish dumpling served with the perfect combination of potato and cheese.
Potatoes slip seamlessly into the breakfast scene at Delightful Pastries. The British Mob ($9.95) features pan-fried potatoes, served with braised beans and blood sausage. The equally crisp and fluffy hash browns (included with breakfast items) are the perfect side to any breakfast dish.

Whether you are celebrating National Hot and Spicy Foods Day or National Potato Day, or even a bit of both, August 19 is a great day to visit Delightful Pastries.

Delightful Pastries' mastery of flavor is clear in all their bakery and café items. See for yourself at any of Delightful Pastries' three Chicago locations: Old Town at 1710 N. Wells St., (312) 255-0724; Jefferson Park at 5927 W. Lawrence, (773) 545-7215, and Chicago French Market at 131 N. Clinton, (312) 234-9644. Visit for more information.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Green City Market Fulton Opens Tomorrow, Saturday, August 9

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Green City Market, Chicago's premiere sustainable farmer's market, opens its new additional outdoorTomatoes photo1 300 location at Fulton Market tomorrow. Green City Market Fulton hours are 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October at the corners of Halsted and Fulton Market streets in the parking lot at 222 N. Halsted St. There is public parking on the east side of the street at 221 N. Halsted for $6.
Twenty vendors selling organic and sustainable produce, vegetables and other goods are expected at the first market. The growing Fulton Market District/West Loop is one of Chicago's most popular and fastest growing neighborhoods. "The Green City Market board and staff are thrilled and excited to have been recommended in the Fulton Market Innovation District Plan and that we have been invited to pilot a Green City Market in this neighborhood," said Mark Psilos, associate director of the Green City Market. "We're hoping that we can use this as an opportunity to transition into a year-round indoor location in the area."
Peaches Green City Market 3_300"Green City Market is a perfect market partner for the District. We have a 16-year proven history in Lincoln Park. We are excited for the farmers to have an opportunity to increase the flow of local food to the community," said Sarah Stegner and Vi Daley, co-chairs of the Green City Market board.
Confirmed vendors include:
Amazing Shrimp
Bennison's Bakery
Bushel & Peck's
Ellis Family Farms
Heartland Meats
Hillside Orchards
Iron Creek Organics
Leaning Shed Farm
Mick Klug Farm
Mint Creek
Nichols Farm & Orchard
Nordic Creamery
River Valley Ranch and Kitchens
The Flower Garden
The mission of Green City Market is to improve the availability of a diverse range of high quality foods,Carrots Green City Market 4_300connecting local producers and farmers to chefs, restaurateurs, food organizations and the public, and supporting small family farms while promoting a healthier society through education and appreciation for local, fresh, sustainably raised produce and products.
Green City Market has been a destination for locals and visitors to Chicago since its inception in 1998. Last year, Green City Market's Lincoln Park location broke attendance records, drawing some 10,000 people weekly on Saturdays and 3,000 plus on Wednesdays.
Green City Market has consistently been named in the top 10 of the nation's best farmers markets by national publications such as Bon Appetit, Travel & Leisure, Forbes, Shape, CNN, Huffington Post and US News, among others. The organization recently published its first cookbook, The Green City Market Cookbook, featuring recipes from chefs, restaurateurs and market customers. The cookbook is available at both Green City Market locations as well as on its website.
For more information, visit Green City Market's website at or call 773-880-1266.
GCM photo DSC02094 300