Chicago Culture, Celebrity, Arts & Entertainment
Chicago culture, arts & entertainment with Billy Dec

Browsing all posts tagged with food.

The Dinner Party with Elysabeth Alfano

celebrities, chicago, Food, General, Networking, nightlife, Radio, restaurants, wine

People often fantasize about putting their dream dinner party together: what celebs they would invite to create an unforgettable experience of food, drinks, conversation and perhaps an impromptu performance or two, depending on the star. I had the same fantasy, with one tiny difference: I wanted my Dinner Party, through the magic of technology and social media to be open to everyone, almost like a flash mob, but it would be a flash Dinner Party.

So that’s what I did!

Now in its 4th year, on my monthly show, “The Dinner Party with Elysabeth Alfano”, I invite 3 celebs of different domains and a known chef who cooks for them AND YOU,  the live audience of 150 Chicago foodies. Over food, drinks, dessert, celeb performances and Twitter, the conversations flow on this very popular, interactive show. Filmed live in front of a live audience and streaming live on The Chicago Sun Times “Splash” website before going to TiVO,  youtube and TheDinnerParty.TV , “The Dinner Party” brings up close and personal, unscripted conversations about the creative process and current celeb projects to more people through an interactive dialogue and feast for the senses.

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With this fun and entertaining platform, we touch on hot topics, music, TV & films, current events and anything else that comes up! Audience members share in the food, drinks and conversations by tweeting in questions making this a truly interactive and dynamic “Dinner Party.”  Many in the audience stay after the show to chat with celebs. As you know, the best conversations happen over dinner, which is why “The Dinner Party” is sometimes a radio show on WGN Radio.

tdp 9-23-14 me & jerry laughing 3

On January 12, join me, your host, Elysabeth Alfano,  Saturday Night Live alum Julia Sweeney, legendary Anchorman and “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” star, Bill Kurtis, a mystery guest and Rockit Ranch Superstar Chef, Kevin Hickey for an interactive night you will never forget on the next “The Dinner Party with Elysabeth Alfano.”  Get your tickets by clicking HERE

A $45 ticket ( ) includes “The Dinner Party” show, a Lagunitas beer tasting, Nellcôte Bread and Roth Cheese, Lifeway Kefir Frozen Treat, and a large tasting of Clam Stew with Homemade Oyster Crackers and of Braised Tallgrass Beef Brisket from extraordinary Chef Kevin Hickey. For the Vegetarians in the house, you can buy a $25 ticket that does not include the two tasting from Chef Hickey.

I hope to see you on January 12 at the next “The Dinner Party with Elysabeth Alfano.”  Be sure to stay and say hi after the show!

Also, share this post with your friends to let them know about this unique experience and be sure to follow me at @DinnerPartyChgo on Twitter and Elysabeth Alfano and The Dinner Party on Facebook for the latest updates on future shows.  You can also subscribe to my podcast “The Dinner Party Podcast with Elysabeth Alfano,” featuring off-the-cuff celeb and chef conversations over food from restaurants all around town by subscribing at or send  me an email to !

Looking forward to connecting soon at “The Dinner Party with Elysabeth Alfano” or on social media.  As you know, the best conversations happen over Dinner!

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Back to School Fundraiser hosted by the Future Founders Foundation

charity, chicago, Fundraiser, Networking

I’ve known Billy since 2007. That’s 7 years!!! (boy how time flies). He has been a mentor, a big brother and a good friend to me. Our love for television, our entrepreneurial spirit, our tenacity and work ethic is what connected us. Over the years I’ve been inspired by his passion for giving back and being involved in the community and that’s what lead me to Future Founders Foundation.

I serve on the Community Advisory Board for the Future Founders Foundation, a non-profit that offers entrepreneurship programs for low-income youth in Chicago.

The Future Founders Foundation inspires low-income youth in Chicago to explore and practice entrepreneurship. We offer programs to connect students with mentors from various professions and provide engaging project-based learning experiences for elementary through college. Our programs address these challenges by: 

·         Connecting young people with mentors and role models through opportunities with business professionals and entrepreneurs

·         Providing learning opportunities for youth to build new skills, with a particular focus on the 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity)

·         Giving youth opportunities to learn through a formal curriculum and apply their skills using experiential and project-based learning experiences

·         Providing exposure to career options and build knowledge about what is needed for particular careers, including becoming an entrepreneur

·         Offering multiple engagement points (e.g. dosage) for youth located at their schools

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Many schools in low-income areas struggle to develop scalable community partnerships and the ability to offer programming to help students build 21st Century skills. In 2014-15, we want to serve over 7,000 students at 50 schools and this is where we need your help.

Please join us for our first Back to School Fundraiser on Wednesday, September 17 from 5:30-8:00 pm at Motorola Mobility. Your tickets are 100% tax deductible and will go directly to helping inspire and empower youth across Chicago. Plus, every dollar you donate will be matched 100% to help further strengthen our programs.

Enjoy great networking, drinks, finger food and the chance to win some incredible raffle prizes.

Register today at:

I hope to see you there! …EJ Hunter


FFF Pic 2



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The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival presented by MasterCard Returns this Summer 2014

Beauty, celebrities, chicago, fashion, Fitness, Food, General, Health, Music, Networking, nightlife, restaurants, sports

The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival™ presented by MasterCard will return to North Michigan Avenue August 22 through September 1, 2014. This is a 10-day celebration that will fuse fashion, food, and Fitness in Chicago’s popular shopping district along Michigan Avenue.

The festival will be anchored by three major events over two weekends including, for the first time ever, “pop-up” shopping along The Magnificent Mile; the return of “A Magnificent Taste;” and the premier of The Magnificent Mile Chicago Women’s Half Marathon & 5K over Labor Day weekend.



Daily Event Details:

A Magnificent Taste, Friday, August 22
This year’s celebrity headliner is Chef Sam Talbot, former “Fan Favorite” on Bravo’s Top Chef and one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive.” On Friday August 22nd, “A Magnificent Taste,” is ideal for the Chicago foodie, the thee-hour, ticketed event will give guests the opportunity to sample gourmet bites and craft cocktails from 15 of Chicago’s popular and award-winning restaurants including Allium, Travelle, Bub City and the Lobby at the Peninsula—plus sweet treats from Magnolia Bakery and Argo Tea.

ShopFest, Saturday and Sunday, August 23 and 24
During ShopFest, North Michigan Avenue turns inside out along the street, as retailers greet shoppers with “pop-up” displays and interactive experiences from 11:00am to 6:00pm each day. Some of the retailers include major brands such as Macy’s and American Girl Place who will be right in front of Water Tower Place, just to name a few. Don’t get to caught up in shopping alone because Southwest Airlines presents Andy Grammer live in concert at the John Hancock Center plaza at 1:00pm on Saturday, August 23. The event is FREE and open to the public. The concert will be followed by a meet-and-greet with the singer-songwriter at Water Tower Place at 2:00pm.


The Mag Mile Chicago Women’s Half-Marathon & 5K, Sunday, August 31
The following weekend, Fleet Feet Sports-Chicago will have over 7,000 runners takeover the streets for The Magnificent Mile Chicago Women’s Half-Marathon & 5K on Sunday.

For more information follow The Magnificent Mile on Facebook and Twitter!

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Spike TV’s Frankenfood Show Mash Up

celebrities, chicago, Food, restaurants, TV Show

I had a blast being on the Spike TV show, Frankenfood! A competition-reality series following New York executive chef and restaurateur Josh Capon and actor/musician/restaurateur Tony Luke Jr on their insane quest to find new and unique flavor combinations by pairing existing dishes together (think chicken flavored cheesecake and turtle tacos!?!) – the result tends to either be a delicious dish…or an awful miss!  Check out this crazy spastic mash-up!!

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GIVEAWAY OF THE DAY! Chicago’s Top Chefs Reimagine Childhood Favorites at the Second Annual Chefs’ Playground


Hi everyone, I’m Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Founder and Executive Director for the Academy for Global Citizenship.  Imagine a room filled with Chicago’s most notable chefs creating dishes inspired by some of your favorite childhood and lunchtime meals. Now mark your calendars for May 15 because dreams really do come true!

Photo credit: (C) Leigh Loftus of ThinkLeigh Photography, 2013

On Thursday, May 15 Chef Tony Mantuano, along with Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO), will bring together Chicago’s top chefs to participate in the Second Annual Chefs’ Playground from 7p.m. – 10p.m. at Terzo Piano.

Chefs’ Playground is a special evening that features 20 celebrity chefs and mixologists who put a haute spin on favorite childhood dishes.  The lineup includes some of your favorites, including: Stephanie Izard of Little Goat and Girl & the Goat, Jeff Mauro, Food Network’s “Sandwich King,” and Jason Vincent, Food & Wine’s Best New Chef 2013. The event will benefit The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), an innovative Chicago public charter school located in the underserved southwest side that uniquely weaves in concepts of environmental stewardship, international mindedness and whole student nutrition and wellness.

AGC’s vision is to be an incubator of innovation that helps reimagine what’s possible in public school education. How many schools teaching kindergarten through 6th grade do you know that have daily yoga, school-wide composting, a solar energy learning lab and an environmental sustainability curriculum? AGC literally wrote the handbook on sustainable schools.

The inaugural Chefs’ Playground event raised nearly $200,000 in addition to a $1M challenge grant was announced during the event. All contributions to the capital campaign are generously matched, dollar for dollar, up to $1M by an AGC board member. In the year since that announcement, approximately half of that million has been matched.

Chefs' Playground

These investments, and more, help AGC to provide a world-class education to students and are contributing to the development of the first net-positive energy school in Illinois. This means that the AGC is aiming to be the first school building in Illinois to generate all the energy it uses in addition to providing energy back to the grid. Now that’s a bright idea!

Want to score free tickets to the Second Annual Chefs’ Playground for across-the-burner access to some of Chicago’s top celebrity chefs? Enter our giveaway by retweeting this Tweet or liking this photo on Instagram. It’s that easy!

For more information about the Second Annual Chefs’ Playground and to order tickets, visit

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What an Italian Beef Sandwich Tastes Like to a Chicagoan Who Has Never Tasted One

chicago, Food

Hey guys, Robin H-B again. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I’ve lived in this city my entire life. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Even with the crazy snowstorms and blazing summers, I love it. I love the food the most. Deep-dish pizza, hot dogs (NO KETCHUP), and chicken from Harold’s (the best one is on 87th off the Dan Ryan). I’m a South Side girl all the way.

The one Chicago delicacy I have never tried is an Italian Beef sandwich.

Italian beef

Yes, I know, I suck as a Chicagoan.

Every time I tell someone I have never had the dipped sandwich they respond with “Whaaaaaaat? Why not?!” I can tell you why not! I grew up in a household where we didn’t eat meat. I lived off of turkey, chicken, and fish. I didn’t eat red meat until last year at Ribfest, a moment that changed my life forever. How could I have gone all this time without knowing about the deliciousness that is red meat?! But even after Ribfest, I still don’t eat red meat. Maybe every once in a while but I never have a craving for it.

Once Lent was over (I gave up chicken, turkey, and fish), I, Robin Hackett-Bradley, would finally have my first Italian beef sandwich.

I am going to be 100% honest with you guys. I won’t fake like it’s the best thing in the world if I’m not loving it just because I’m from Chicago and don’t want to give my city a bad review on one of its most iconic foods. If I hate it, I’m going to tell you!

Here goes!

Friday April 25, 2014, lunchtime.

I just got back from Portillo’s with my Italian beef sandwich combo. That includes fries, the sandwich and a pop. I went for a Coke and small fry. A large fry would take me all day and I will never get to the sandwich. On my Italian beef I have sweet peppers and mozzarella cheese. I decided not to dip mine for fear of it being soggy. Some people go for hot peppers, no cheese, extra soggy sandwich. I didn’t think that was my thing, so I played it safe.


First bite: It’s wet. I’m not used to wet bread. (I’m sure I asked them not to dip it…*)

Second bite: Ok, I’m past the wet bread. This meat is good, well seasoned. I could eat this all day.

Third bite: I just realized that I have completely ignored my fries and Coke.

I have successfully finished my first Italian beef sandwich. It was delicious, but I don’t see myself becoming one of those people who eat them every single day. However, I could eat Portillo’s Italian strawberry shortcake everyday.

I am now a legit Chicagoan.

*Feeny (also a part of Billy’s team) has informed me that its wet from the juice off the meat, not dipped.

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Do Something Different! Join the Fit and Fabulous to Fight Cancer at Gateway to Wellness

charity, chicago, Fitness, Fundraiser, Health

Calling all young Chicago professionals out there! It’s Diana from the Gateway for Cancer Research Associates Board, and I have one question for you:

Where will you be the evening of Saturday, April 5?

If you’re like most who work hard, play hard, you’ll likely be unwinding from a long, busy week – grabbing dinner or drinks with friends, catching up on work (yikes!), or, for the mentally exhausted, binge-watching the latest Netflix release (House of Cards, anyone?).

But, I’m inviting you to do something different this Saturday for a one-of-a-kind experience where you can enjoy…

  • Delicious, healthy local food and drinks (open bar and passed hors d’oeuvres!)
  • Giveaways (who doesn’t like a free swag bag with lots of goodies?)
  • Raffle and silent auction (auction items range from an eight-week class at the Old Town School of Folk Music to a one-week condo stay in Frisco, Colo.)
  • Mingle with other young, driven professionals in Chicago and build your network
  • Get new ideas for working healthy habits into your busy life


For just the cost of dinner and a movie, join me at Gateway to Wellness, a cancer research fundraising event hosted by the Gateway for Cancer Research Associates Board. More than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices, like eating right and staying active, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s why Gateway to Wellness will introduce busy young professionals to new ideas for working healthy habits into their day-to-day lives.

The event will feature experts from local Chicago companies and organizations who will share tips, products and in-person instruction for healthy lifestyle choices in fun and interactive ways. And, as with all Gateway events, nearly 100% of ticket sales and donations go directly to support Gateway for Cancer Research, a nonprofit organization that funds clinical trials to help cancer patients feel better, live longer and be cured today.

It all takes place at Catalyst Ranch, a vibrant space that you must experience to appreciate.

Gateway to Wellness
Saturday, April 5, 6 – 9 p.m.
Catalyst Ranch
West Loop – 656 W. Randolph St., #3W, Chicago
For tickets:

I hope to see you there!

- Diana Bell, member of the Gateway for Cancer Research Associates Board

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Culinary Care Celebrates 500 Meals Delivered!

charity, chicago, Food, Fundraiser, restaurants


Hi All! Courtney here! I’m the founder of Culinary Care, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that delivers meals to in-need families & individuals affected by cancer to help provide one less worry during such a difficult time. I am excited to share that this month we are celebrating our 500th meal delivered!

Based in Chicago, Culinary Care partners with local restaurants that donate all the meals we deliver. Our current partners include Rockit Bar & Grill, Sunda, Maggiano’s, Paris Club, Hub 51, Wildfire, Bub City, Mon Ami Gabi, RPM Italian, RJ Grunts, Mity Nice Grill, Goddess & Grocer, Feast, Sullivan’s, Carmine’s, Rosebud, Zapatista, Blackfinn and more are being added each day.

Culinary Care

Culinary Care Friend, Courtney White – Founder

Culinary Care

I started Culinary Care in March of 2013 out of inspiration from my own personal experience with cancer. In 2007, my senior year of high school, I lost my father to lung cancer. Between trips to the hospital and school, there was one thing that always provided a light at the end of the of the day for my family and I – the meals our friends and neighbors brought us each night for two months straight. It was this simple gesture that helped us avoid some of the daily stresses we were facing as we coped with my fathers’ death. Looking back, the meals and kindness we were shown gave us the strength to move forward and begin the healing process. This is what we bring to others through Culinary Care!

Want to help spread our mission? Get involved today:
Facebook: CulinaryCare
Twitter: @culinarycare

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Meez Meals delivering healthy food & supporting Common Threads with Meals for Good

after school matters, celebrities, charity, chicago, Food, Fundraiser, General, Health

Meez Meals, a Chicago company that delivers recipes along with healthy ingredients prepped and ready to cook at home, is joining forces with Common Threads to introduce “Meals for Good.” The yearlong partnership is designed to offer healthy meal solutions through an efficient delivery process.


Meals for Good will feature a favorite recipe from a top Chicago chef each month, starting with a dish from famed Chicago chef and Common Threads co-founder, Art Smith. Chef Smith kicks off the program with a dish he cooks at home: Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Balsamic-Glazed Tofu. The combination of a cold salad dressed in a Parmesan and lemon vinaigrette with hot, glazed tofu embodies Chef Smith’s signature style of healthy comfort food.


Each Meals for Good recipe purchased through Meez Meals will support Common Threads’ innovative after-school programs, which empower children and adults with nutrition knowledge and teach them the benefits of an active lifestyle and the magic of smart cooking. Through a variety of hands-on experiences, Common Threads’ goal is to connect people with their food, and in turn, their health.

Meez Meals members can look forward to new recipes each month from the likes of Chef David Blonsky of Siena Tavern, Chef Jeremy Tannehill of the Public House, Chef Heather Terhune of Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chef Rick Gresh of David Burke’s Primehouse, Chef Beverly Kim of Bonsoiree and more.


Chef Smith’s Meals for Good recipe is available to order from Meez Meals beginning Friday, Nov. 22, through Friday, Dec. 13, and is available in one, two, four and six-serving sizes. The recipe averages $8 to $12.50 per serving and can be ordered at Meals ordered by Friday at noon are delivered on Mondays in two convenient delivery windows: the afternoon between 2 and 5 p.m. and the evening between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Dig in!

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Spare Time Inc.,Chicago Restaurant Group, Throws Holiday Canned Food Drive Benefiting South Side “You Can Make It!” Homeless Shelter

after school matters, charity, chicago, Food, Fundraiser, General, Uncategorized

Hello Chicago!

The holiday’s are upon us and we at Spare Time Inc. are excited to do our part by helping those in need and spreading the holiday love. That’s why Friday, November 15th, we launched a company wide “Holiday Canned Food Drive” to benefit a local South Side homeless shelter. The drive will end a week or so before Christmas! 

“You Can Make It!” is a shelter that supports homeless men, women and children by giving them a place to sleep and putting warm food in their bellies. We want to help make sure that the Chicago homeless community is able to enjoy a hot dinner on Christmas.

Do your part this holiday season and join us in helping to make the holidays a time of food and cheer for all!

By donating and “liking” a Spare Time location on Facebook or following on Twitter, you will receive a free appetizer during your visit!

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If you’d like to help out this initiative, please bring your canned and boxed non-perishable foods to any of our locations both in Chicago and Evanston. 

Southport Lanes, 3325 N. Southport – Facebook/Twitter

Daily Bar and Grill, 4560 N. Lincoln – Facebook/Twitter

Seven Ten Lincoln Park, 2747 N. Lincoln – Facebook/Twitter

Seven Ten Hyde Park, 1055 E. 55th St – Facebook/Twitter

New Line Tavern, 201 N. Clinton – Facebook/Twitter

Wafel, 201 N. Clinton - Facebook/Twitter

Firehouse Grill (Evanston), 750 Chicago Ave -  Facebook/Twitter


We appreciate your help!
-The Spare Time Team

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