Monday, June 30, 2008

Birch River Grill Brings Picnic Fare to WGN-TV

It's summer, and that means it's perfect weather for a picnic. John Ayaleanos, executive chef of Birch River Grill (75 W. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights; 847-427-4242), demonstrated how to prepare the perfect summer picnic meal today during WGN-TV's Noon News. Chef John's Grilled and Chilled Cajun Shrimp is a perfect light dish for an afternoon meal in the fresh air, and paired with Chef John's corn relish, the dish brings seasonal vegetables into the mix for not only a tasty but healthy picnic.

Chef John, with the help of WGN anchor Micah Materre, showed the versatility of the dish. Served warm off the grill or chilled for a picnic, the Grilled and Chilled Cajun Shrimp is perfect for a midsummer picnic.

In case you missed it, you can view the segment here:

Chef John's shrimp is featured on Birch River Grill's regular menu. For more information on Birch River Grill, visit their web site at or call (847) 427-4242.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Friday, June 27, 2008

Celebrate the 4th with an explosion of delicious food

Looking for something other than fireworks to brighten your Independence Day? Check out the hot holiday and summer specials being offered at your favorite Chicago restaurants. After you work up an appetite outside, make sure to fill up on great food and drink specials!

75 W. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights, IL
(847) 427-4242

Enjoy an elegant, yet cozy environment while experiencing delicious American-style cuisine at Birch River Grill. Take pleasure in hot summer specials including free appetizers 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily! Experience a twist on a classic, home-style meal with executive chef John Ayaleanos’ delicious entrées, including Birch River Mac N’ Cheese, featuring mild and sharp cheddar cheeses and toasted brioche crumbs upon cavatappi noodles ($10) and Cedar Planked Maple Salmon, served in a maple rosemary garlic glaze with smoked bacon wild rice pilaf ($19). In the mood for something light but filling? Try the Grilled “Baja Style” Fish Tacos –perfect for summer -- served in corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, spicy salsa and cool cilantro lime mayo ($10). Guests looking to enjoy their meal in the lounge should check out its menu, featuring classic choices such as Corned Beef Reuben ($9) and Pulled Pork Sliders ($9).

Birch River Grill’s Express Lunch:
Lunch breaks often don’t give ample time to enjoy a satisfying meal. With Birch River Grill’s Express Lunch, guests can enjoy their choice of two ($7) or three ($9) of the following within a busy workday: Cup of Soup of the Day, Small House Salad or Caesar Salad, and/or Half of the Daily Sandwich. Being busy should not mean eating badly. Swing by today for the perfect mid-day meal!

Birch River Grill Summer Daily Drink Specials:
Monday: $2.30 Bud and Bud Light bottles
Tuesday: $5 Bacardi and Captain Morgan cocktails
Wednesday: $5 Absolut and Stoli cocktails
Thursday: $5 Jack Daniels and Jim Beam cocktails
Friday: $5 Jose Cuervo margaritas; $3 Corona bottles
Saturday: 1 cent bottles of Sycamore Lane Wine (with the purchase of an entrée)
Sunday: $2.50 Miller Lite and MGD bottles

Birch River Grill Summer Dining Information:
Hours: Monday through Thursday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Lounge stays open one hour later)
Meals served: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and lounge menu

For reservations or more information, please call Birch River Grill at (847) 427-4242.

25 S. Roselle Rd., Schaumburg, IL
(847) 520-0068

This year Deerfields Bakery will be handing out gluten-free cookies and mini cupcakes at the annual fourth of July parade in Deerfield. Last year, the lauded Northshore bakery handed out more than 15,000 cupcakes. This year, the bakery elected to go gluten-free in honor of its new offering of gluten-free baked goods."We plan to hand out Lemon Buttons and mini chocolate cupcakes," explained Kurt Schmitt, president of Deerfields Bakery, who has made gluten-free his pet project. "No one will even guess these baked goods are gluten-free," he added."In addition to our organic whole grain products that we bake for a large grocery chain," Schmitt explained, "adding a gluten-free line is another avenue for Deerfields to offer a healthier alternative to everyone."

For more information on gluten-free or any of Deerfields Bakery items, call (748) 520-0068.

4004 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL
(773) 325-1710

Check out innovative food while enjoying the summer weather at Deleece. Guests are welcome to relax on the outdoor patio and dine on chef de cuisine, Chris Kuziemko’s impressive masterpieces, including Grilled Shrimp Penne Pasta served with grape tomatoes and pesto ($17) and Basil Ginger-Cured Amish Half Chicken in a tangy blueberry sauce accompanied with camembert and frisee panzanella ($15).

Deleece’s Summer Specials:
Mondays and Tuesdays check out Deleece’s special $20 three-course meal. The menu changes weekly, allowing for multiple return trips to try new creations.
Wine lovers beware: don’t miss half-priced bottles every Wednesday.

Deleece Summer Dining Information:
Hours: Lunch: Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Outdoor Seating: Yes

Deleece offers carry-out in addition to dining-in. For more information or to make a reservation, call Deleece at (773) 325-1710.
733 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL
(312) 602-2100

Get outside and enjoy the city this summer while feasting on delicious creations at Dine. With outdoor seating, try something from the new lounge menu, like the Seared Maryland Blue Crab Cakes($11), Grilled Norwegian Salmon ($25) and Slow-Dried Rummo Pasta ($18). Don’t forget to save room for dessert. Curb chocolate cravings with the Espresso-Dark Chocolate Moussecake ($8).

Dine’s July 4 Specials:
Spend the day with Dine and holiday specials, featuring $4 Draft Beers, $5 Burgers, and $6 Specialty Red, White and Blue Martinis. Enjoy the summer weather on the 28-seat patio.

Goose Island Beer Dinner, July 26th 2008
Executive chef Christopher Turano treats his guests to a special menu July 26, when he dishes out a special Goose Island beer dinner. The meal begins with Lightly Smoked Sable, served with toasted caraway bilini and pickled ramp, accompanied with Seasonal Goose Island Summertime, followed by a Five Spice Roasted Duck Breast, accompanied with a saffron braised salsify and green apple slaw, served alongside a Classic Goose Island India Pale Ale. The third course features a Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shank with cauliflower “risotto” along with a white asparagus salad, featuring a Goose Island Reserve Matilda, followed by dessert; a Brown Butter Shortcake with palm sugar roasted finger bananas, accented with valencia burnt-orange caramel ice cream paired with Goose Island’s Reserve Pere Jacques.

Dine’s mouth-watering Goose Island Beer Dinner is $40 per person. To make a reservation or more information, please contact Dine at (312) 602-2100.

Dine Summer Dining Information:
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (lounge is open one hour later)
Meals served: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Lounge menu
Nightly Bar Specials featuring $6 House Martinis on Fridays.

2600 Clark St., Chicago, IL
(773) 883-6000

Join the party at Dunlays on Clark this July 4 weekend. The restaurant’s popular brunch is going to be open on Friday, July 4, to ring in Independence Day. Guests can dine on favorite brunch items such as neighborhood namesake Lincoln Park, featuring goat cheese, asparagus, roasted red peppers, and artichokes ($8) or classic Eggs Florentine, which includes toasted brioche accompanied with smoked turkey, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce ($9).

The fun doesn’t stop after the July 4 holiday at Dunlays on Clark. Enjoy one of their summer cocktails, including their featured mojitos. Guests can also choose from many specialty and summer cocktails, including a Clark Street Cosmo, with Stoli Razberi or Stoli Cranberi, Cointreau, cranberry juice and a hint of lime, and the Perfect Manhattan, with Maker’s Mark, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, bitters and brandied cherries. Work up an appetite with all those tasty drinks? Try one of Dunlays on Clark’s delicious entrée’s including their Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi, which is roasted and topped with lemon butter sauce, served with grilled asparagus ($21) or a Margherita Pizza –perfect for a filling snack—with fresh tomatoes, basil pesto, baby arugula, and mozzarella ($10).

For reservations or for more information call Dunlays on Clark at (773) 883-6000.

3137 W. Logan Blvd., Chicago, IL
(773) 227-2400

Celebrate the July 4 weekend right with Dunlays on the Square. Enjoy the restaurant’s signature brunch, featuring favorites like the Fresh Fruit Pancakes loaded with strawberries, bananas and blueberries served with potatoes ($8). Dunlays on the Square has extended their weekend brunch to include the holiday and are therefore open for brunch at 10 a.m. on Friday through Sunday.

For reservations or more information, please call Dunlays con the Square at (773) 227-2400.

3358 N. Paulina St., Chicago, IL
(773) 248-5222

Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar is celebrating the July 4 holiday with the regular dinner menu featuring favorites such as Fonduta, fontina and pecorino fondue with apples, toasted bread and sopressata ($9) and rich dishes like the Gnocchi Alla Pizzaiolo, homemade potato dumplings sautéed in tomato sauce with fresh herbs, smoked provolone and extra virgin olive oil ($14).

Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar is now open for brunch. Open for the July 4 weekend holiday, the restaurant will begin serving brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday & Sunday. The new menu offers traditional brunch favorites such as House-made Granola and Yogurt served with fresh fruit ($8) to more exotic items like Breakfast Pizza ($10). Don’t forget their featured bottomless mimosa’s ($10).

For reservations or more information, call Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar at (773) 248-5222.

305 Happ Rd., Northfield, IL
(847) 446-1133

Restaurant-goers searching for casual, yet sophisticated dining need to check out Jacky Pluton’s newest restaurant, Haussmann Brasserie. This new culinary hotspot features Parisian-inspired American cuisine. Enjoy entrées including Striped Bass served with roasted red pepper “aigre-doux” ($25), and Beef Shortribs accented with a seven spice mixture, served with a carrot-horseradish puree ($26). During dinner, try a signature Haussmann Martini ($12) made with Grey Goose pear vodka, Belle de Brillat Liqueur and pear puree. Indulge in one the restaurant’s decadent desserts, including Jacky’s “Childhood” Tiramisu, or Meringues Profiterolles ($8 each).
Haussmann Brasserie’s Current Daily Entrée Specials:
Monday: Trout Almondine ($23)
Tuesday: Duck Confit ($18)
Wednesday: Soft Shell Crab ($26)
Thursday: Beef Bourguignon ($25)
Friday: Meat Loaf ($21)
Saturday: Veil Paillard ($24)
Sunday: Croque Madame ($18)

Haussmann Brasserie Summer Dining Information:
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Meals served: Lunch and Dinner

For a reservation or more information, call Haussmann Brasserie at (847) 446-1133.

510 E. Route 83, Mundelein, IL
(847) 970-6900

Stay cool and refreshed this summer with one of Karma’s summer drink specials. Choose from eight delicious drinks including an Asian Pear Mojito ($9), Pom Margarita ($9), Mai Tai ($8), Lychee Sake Mojito ($9), Harvest Peach Sangria ($9), Karma Bloody Mary ($8), Karma Kolada ($8) and an 1800 Margarita ($9). Enjoy these tantalizing drinks with a delicious menu favorite, including Grilled Stuffed Rainbow Trout ($20), Orange Peel Tempura Chicken ($15) or Vegetarian Okonomiyaki ($15).

Karma’s July 4 Dinner Specials:
Celebrate the Fourth of July at Karma with one of two entrée specials. Executive chef Robert Packer invites guests to feast on a choice of Char Grilled 24oz. Porterhouse served with a lime ginger glaze, and wasabi aioli alongside shoestring potatoes and baby vegetables ($39), or the Pacific Rim Tilapia stuffed with Thai chili spiced shrimp and scallops served with wok-fried vegetables, forbidden rice and a lobster tobikko sauce ($24).

Karmas Lounge Drink Specials:
Grab a cocktail after dinner in Karma’s sleek lounge. Drink specials include a Papaya Margarita ($7), Karma’s Green Envy ($8), and a Fruitini ($8).

Karma’s Summer Daily Drink Specials:
Monday: $7 Grey Goose la Poire cosmo martini
Tuesday: $4 draft beer
Wednesday: $5 Bacardi Rum cocktails
Thursday: $3 domestic bottles
Friday: $6 Absolut martinis

Karma Summer Dining Information:
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Lounge remains open one hour later).
Meals served: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and lounge menus.

To make a reservation or for more information, please call Karma at (847) 970-6900.

16 W. Ontario St., Chicago, IL
(312) 640-1000
Gym shoes or ripped jeans ever kept you out of The Redhead? Well…in honor of July 4th and our 15 year anniversary, we are proud to announce the first ever independence from The Redhead Piano Bar dress code. For the July 3-5 holiday weekend only, liberate yourself from dress clothes and relax in … well let me put it this way; if you have something on your feet, something on your top and something in between, then you’re probably ok. Other than bathing suits, just about anything goes! No cover charge, live entertainment, robust selection of libations and great value year-round. For the July 3-5 celebration only there will be nightly prizes, so bring your business card for the drawing. The Redhead Piano Bar is open Thursday 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

For reservations or more information, call the The Redhead Piano Bar at (312) 640-1000.

3313 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL
(773) 348-3313

Spice up the culinary experience with Shochu’s new brunch menu. Executive chef Josh Hansen brings a twist to classic brunch with Asian-inspired menu items, including Lobster Mizuna Benedict accented with truffle hollandaise ($13), a Shitake Goat Cheese and Scallion Omlette ($8) and Pear Ginger French Toast with sesame whipped cream ($7). Don’t forget to order a Bottomless Mimosa ($15), which is currently being offered during Saturday and Sunday brunch!
In the neighborhood for dinner? Have dinner on Shochu’s beautiful 60-seat outdoor patio and enjoy menu favorites such as Blueberry Teriyaki Quail with quinoa spaetzle, served with miso lychee aioli and black sesame seeds ($10), and the Red Curry Shrimp with fuji apple served alongside a peanut scallion and pea shoot salad ($11). Don’t forget a namesake shochu cocktail. Shochu, Japan’s highest-selling alcoholic beverage, is similar to vodka and thanks to its distilling process, easy on hangovers. Try a Bloody Dragon made with rice shochu, blood orange, malibu, and soda ($9).

Shochu’s Current Specials:
Monday: ½ price martinis (with food purchase)
Tuesday: ½ price sushi

Shochu Summer Dining Information:
Hours: Dinner: Sunday through Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Outdoor Seating: Yes

For a reservation or more information, call Shochu at (773) 348-3313.

1804 W. Division St., Chicago, IL
(773) 772-6656

Celebrate the July 4 with one of Chicago’s most renowned neighborhood barbeque joints, The Smoke Daddy. On July 4, join the Smoke Daddy for the Red, White, and Q Celebration, when the restaurant offers $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon Beers and their full menu all day long.

The Smoke Daddy is located at 1804 West Division Street in Chicago’s eclectic Wicker Park neighborhood. To celebrate Independence Day, The Smoke Daddy is open 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. for dine-in and carry-out orders. Guests enjoy free, live music every evening at no extra charge.

For reservations or for more information, please call The Smoke Daddy at (773) 772-6656.

800 E. Higgins Rd.,
Elk Grove Village, IL
(847) 437-9555

In the mood for good old fashioned barbecue, but don’t feel like dusting off the grill? Head to Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Restaurant in Elk Grove Village, and grab a seat on the outdoor patio Guests will experience executive chef Paul Papadopoulos’ skills on the grill in creating classic dishes. Enjoy nightly drink specials along with favorites such as Baby Back Ribs smothered with Sweet Baby Ray’s famous barbecue sauce, half slab or full slab ($12.99/$19.99), Jamaican Jerk Chicken Platter ($12.99) and Smoked Shaved Prime Rib Sandwich ($10.99).

Sweet Baby Ray’s at Naperville Ribfest:
Rib lovers prepare, The Naperville Ribfest is right around the corner. The second biggest rib contest in the U.S. kicks off July 3 and continues through July 6. The good people at Sweet Baby Ray’s will be there, serving delicious barbecue to hungry attendees. Guests can feast on St. Louis Style Spare Ribs, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, BBQ Chicken Breast Sandwiches, Boneless Rib Sandwiches, and House-made Barbecue Baked Beans and Cole Slaw. In addition, Sweet Baby Ray’s is one of only two vendors to be selling Baby Back Ribs at the event. Enjoy the summer weather and join Sweet Baby Ray’s at the Naperville Ribfest!

Sweet Baby Ray’s July 4 Weekend Specials:
Nothing goes better with fireworks than Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue. In-house, guests will be treated to a menu of Baby Back Ribs, Smoked Chicken, Fresh Corn on the Cob, and Sliced Watermelon for $19.99. Holiday-exclusive drink specials include a Lemon Crush Martini ($7) and Rum Antique ($6), available only for the weekend. Guests looking to grab barbecue to-go can look forward to the restaurant’s exclusive carry-out specials. Pick up classic Baby Back Ribs ($15.99), St. Louis-Style Baby Back Ribs ($14.99), or a Whole Smoked Chicken ($8.99) at special prices. Feeding a big group? Get multiple orders of favorites or pick up ten pounds of Pulled Pork for $79.95. Both the in-house and carry-out specials are only available July 4 through 6. Make the holiday complete with barbecue from Sweet Baby Ray’s.
Guests checking out the local festivals on the Fourth of July can catch Sweet Baby Ray’s out and about in Chicago. Head to Frontier Days in Arlington Heights and catch some fireworks at Itasca Fireworks. Just make sure to keep an eye –or a more appropriate nose-out for their famous barbeque.

Sweet Baby Ray’s Summer Dinner Specials:
Sweet Baby Ray’s is treating its bar patrons to a Free Appetizer Buffet from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, so grab a drink and chow down! Entrée specials include All-You-Can-Eat Baby Back Ribs every Wednesday ($16.99), and a Smoked Prime Rib Dinner every Friday and Saturday ($18.95). Don’t forget to bring the whole family because kids eat free every Tuesday.

Sweet Baby Ray’s July Daily Drink Specials:
Monday: $2.25 Light drafts; $2.50 Miller bottles
Tuesday: $3 Blue Moon drafts; $5 Sea Breeze and Bay Breeze cocktails
Wednesday: $2.50 Coors Light bottles; $5 Sangria
Thursday: $2.50 Bud & Bud Light bottles; $5 Margaritas
Featured cocktails every weekend.

Sweet Baby Ray’s Summer Dining Information:
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.;Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Meals Served: Breakfast (weekends only), Lunch, and Dinner

For more information on specials or to make a reservation, call Sweet Baby Ray’s Elk Grove at (847) 437-9555.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Elza, breakthrough singer-songwriter, sets the emotional tone for ABC-TV News mini-series "Hopkins" beginning June 26

Check out Kurman's newest client Elza
12 original songs to be featured on ABC-TV News
documentary brings national attention to gifted
pop performer, composer and lyricist

With compelling commercials currently airing on ABC-TV to promote its upcoming documentary mini-series, "Hopkins", the buzz is growing around the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, Elza, whose twelve original songs-written, composed and performed by Elza-will be featured in this high profile network mini-series. Elza's song "Everything to Me" is featured on the commercials as well.
"Hopkins" is a six-part documentary miniseries revolving around the lives of men and women who work at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The series premieres Thursday, June 26 at 10 p.m. EDT (9 p.m. CDT) and will continue to run for five subsequent Thursdays.

Twelve of Elza's songs from her albums "Elza" "Wide Open" and "Gettin' Free" are featured on the mini-series. Elza's soulful, acoustic guitar-centric songs form a down-to-earth, compassionate musical tapestry that complements the daily struggles and heroic efforts of the doctors highlighted on "Hopkins."

Elza's national breakthrough as a singer-songwriter, after winning major songwriting competitions and touring for several years to hone her skills, emphasizes the fact that, for most artists, TV shows like "American Idol" are only one of many ways TV can jumpstart a major music career.

This spotlight on Elza's singing and songwriting boosts her status as a uniquely gifted talent. During the past several years, her reputation as both a songwriter and performer has been growing within pop music circles. She is a two time recipient of the ASCAP Plus Awards, 1st place winner of the 2005 International Broadjam Songwriting Contest, and finalist in both the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the Billboard World Song Contest. Elza's music is also not new to television: she has been featured on numerous network series including the WB Smallville, ABC and NBC.

You can learn more and buy her music at For the full press release, check here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Good Karma on WGN-TV

WGN-TV studios were filled with good karma yesterday when Robert Packer, executive chef of the chic pan-Asian restaurant Karma (510 E. Route 83, Mundelein; 847-970-6900), prepared Vegetable Okonomiyaki during WGN Noon News' live "Lunchbreak" segment. Chef Robert, with the help of WGN anchor Micah Materre, wowed the studio with the dish's tantalizing aroma.

The dish is perfect for summer, featuring rice and fresh, seasonal steamed vegetables served in a warm Asian pancake. You can also put your own twist on the pancake, such as adding scallions like Chef Robert did.
In case you missed the segment, you can watch it here.

Karma is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For reservations or for more information, please call the restaurant at (847) 970-6900 or visit

Photo credit: Lauren Perri, Kurman Communications, Inc.

Monday, June 16, 2008

River North Celebrates SummerFest this Sunday, June 22

River North celebrates SummerFest 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Sunday, June 22 at Erie Park (Erie and Kingsbury streets). The day-long event celebrates life in River North and features restaurants, art, retail, and entertainment for young and old alike. The event is organized by the River North Residents Association and the River North Association. The suggested donation is $5 at the door.

Fifty area business will showcase their wares including Ai Japanese, Buca DiBeppo, Citizen, Kitsch'n, LaMadia, Melting Pot, Rocket, The Redhead Piano Bar, and Zocalo restaurants. " This provides the perfect opportunity to experience River North ,"says Art Bryan, an event sponsor and First Vice President of the River North Association. Entertainment includes Jesse White Tumbling Team, Pipe Dream, Sancocho, Jon Wade Ouartet, Impressionist Portraits, Personal Massages, Kayak Rides, Prize Drawings, and the new Erie Park Farmer's Market. There are special sections for children's activities and for pets, including pet adoptions.

Come prepared to explore, have fun and relax. There will be opportunities for massages, psychic readings, and portraiture.

Presenting sponsor of SummerFest are the East Bank Club and Erie-LaSalle Body Shop & Car Care. Supporting sponsors include Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant, Peak Organic Brewing Company, Harris Bank, and Green Heart. Other sponsors include Caribou Coffee, Dance Chicago, East Bank Storage, Erie Cafe, Juvenesse, Kozy Cyclery, Safegard, Park Kingsbury, 7-Eleven, Redhead Piano Bar, and Alderman Reilly.For information, contact River North Residents Association at or River North Association at or call 312-645-1047.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another win for Chicago as Stephanie Izard takes the Top Chef crown!

I'm obsessed with Bravo's Top Chef! (Ok I'll admit it, I'm obsessed with every show on Bravo). But I first became a Top Chef fan during Season 3 when Kurman did an event last fall with "chef"testant, Sara Mair who ended up finishing fourth. Naturally I was pretty excited when Season 4 was being filmed in Chicago, and that two stellar chefs were representing the Windy City. Right from the first episode, Stephanie Izard became my favorite. (I was probably a bit partial to the name). Last night Steph pulled through for Chicagoans to beat out the mohawked Richard Blais and eternally frowning Lisa Fernandes to become the first female to be named Top Chef! Word is, she's already been scouting locations for a new restaurant in the city!

This comes less than a week after Grant Achatz of Alinea, and Carrie Nahabedian of Naha earned huge props at the James Beard Foundation Awards in NYC. If anyone every doubted Chicago's ability to be on top of the culinary scene, they better be thinking twice!

Congratulations Chefs!

Want to learn more about our stellar gal? Check out this interview with Izard in the Chicago Tribune.

(Photo Credit: Bravo)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The 2008 James Beard Awards

Congratulations to Alinea's Grant Achatz for winning the 2008 James Beard Foundation awards for Outstanding Chef and to Naha's Carrie Nahabedian for winning the Best Chef: Great Lakes award. The three-hour awards ceremony held on Sunday, June 8, at NYC's Lincoln Center, is often referred to as the Academy Awards of the restaurant industry. More than 1000 people attend the posh affair that rewards and highlights the best of the best in the culinary world. The three-hour awards ceremony was followed by a walk-around tasting with an "artisanal America" theme and featured several Chicago chefs including JBF winner Sarah Stegner, her partner at Prairie Grass Cafe, George Bumbaris; North Pond's Bruce Sherman;

The American Classic Award went to Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap, 1073 Vernon Park Place, Chicago, owner Joseph DiBuono. One of the few remnants of Chicago’s Little Italy, Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap has been owned and operated by the same family since it opened as a bar in the early 1930s. The small table in the bar’s kitchen has since expanded to include two dining rooms that are regularly packed with businessmen, police officers, families, and pre-game sports fans. The restaurant’s chalkboard menu offers diners Italian-American classics like lemon chicken, eggplant Parmesan, and fettuccini Alfredo at prices that make just about everyone a regular.

Wish you were there? Visit the various coverage on YouTube.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Showing Off Shochu on Wayne's Weekend

NBC-5’s Wayne Johnson was kind enough to invite Shochu Executive Chef/Partner Josh Hansen to NBC this morning to demonstrate how to make grilled small plate dishes featured at Shochu. Wayne’s recent visits to Shochu inspired him to host a dinner party featuring grilled small plates, and he enlisted Josh to share his knowledge on Wayne's Weekend. Chef Josh demonstrated two yakitori, or grilled, skewers: bacon wrapped quail and shrimp with Asian pear. A thunderstorm may have ravaged Chicago last night, but this morning it was nice enough to have the segment outside on the Plaza!

In case you missed the segment, you can read more about it here.

This was Chef Josh’s second TV segment of the week! Shochu’s television star also appeared on WGN-TV’s noon news Lunchbreak segment on Monday, June 2, to demonstrate grilled skirt steak lettuce wraps and the shrimp with Asian pear yakitori.

Shochu is located at 3313 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60657. Reservations can be made by calling (773) 348-3313. Please visit the Shochu Web site at