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My review of Chef Stuart O’Keeffe’s cooking class: I had lunch with a Food Network star!

Chef Stuart O’Keeffe at Macy’s State St

It’s hot outside and you don’t want to eat – and you also can’t for the life of you remember any notable Irish dish other than corned beef and cabbage. And yet, Chef Stuart O’Keeffe manages to pull you into his world of flavors, and you decide that eating on a sweltering hot day is not such a bad idea, after all. Chef O’Keeffe’s food pays tribute to his Irish upbringing, yet it is cosmopolitan in its scope and versatile in its approach. Just like his personality and on-stage presence, his food is vibrant and bubbly, in the best possible way πŸ™‚

I met Chef Stuart O’Keeffe at a cooking demo at Macy’s State St in downtown Chicago one hot summer day. My previous Macy’s Culinary Council cooking class had been amazing, and I was looking forward to yet another exquisite culinary experience. Keep Reading

My recent BlueStar pizza class experience: the science of pizza, revealed in a cooking space like no other

Chefs Leo Spizzirri and Susan Swanson during the BlueStar pizza class

Chef Leo SpizzirriΒ  is a man of a phenomenal energy and charisma, and what keeps him motivated is something most of us enjoy: pizza πŸ™‚ He talks fast, his hand gestures are broad, and his eyes light up whenever he shares stories from his past as a pizzaiolo certified by the International School of Pizza or as a consultant for some of America’s largest pizza manufacturers. What he’s most passionate about, however, is his current job as a pizza instructorΒ at the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy (NAPCA) in Lisle. Do you ever think about what goes on inside your pizza? About the chemical reactions among the ingredients? About the stress level applied to the dough? If you’d like to find out more about the science of pizza, meeting ChefΒ Spizzirri is a must. Believe me: you will not be disappointed.

I met Chef/instructor Spizzirri when I attended the BlueStar pizza class held at NAPCA, which Chef Spizzirri manages along with his business partners, Chefs Anthony Iannone and Renee Gabbett. This is a full review of my experience – and what an experience that was! Keep Reading

Winging it at WingFest 2018: so many wings, so little time!

How do you like your chicken wings: mild with dashes of parmesan, hot with ghost pepper galore, or BBQ-style, smothered in smoky bourbon sauce? Or maybe you like the exotic kind, brimming with gochujang, pineapple and mango? Whatever your preferred flavors or tolerance of spicy food, you were bound to find your favorites and to discover new ones at the 19th edition of Chicago’s Best WingFest, which was held at UIC Pavilion earlier this month.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I’m not into spicy foods. Furthermore, being heavily pregnant has made me very cautious when it comes to trying out new dishes. What if there wouldn’t be anything mild enough for me to be able to eat at WingFest? What if my feet would get more swollen, and my ankles would hurt even more as a result of standing up for hours? All in all, was it really worth it? In the end, curiosity got the best of me: I attended WingFest, and I’m happy to report that my fears were unfounded. The mild wings were plenty and delicious, the crowds were manageable, and the experience was a lot of fun πŸ™‚

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Five things I learned from Chef Rick Bayless at Macy’s latest cooking class

With Chef Rick Bayless at Macy’s kids cooking class
Photo credit: Brittany Sepulveda

Whenever you get an invitation to attend a Macy’s Culinary Council cooking class, you’d better say yes! Especially if the class is scheduled during Macy’s Flower Show and involves Chef Rick Bayless, a culinary expert with a deep understanding of Mexican cuisine and a passion for storytelling. As a big fan of Chef Bayless, I was excited to get the invitation to attend his latest kids cooking class – and equally excited to get the chance to interview him for my blog. I could not have asked for a better time and place: with Easter right around the corner, Macy’s on State Street was in bloom (literally!), and the explosion of floral colors and scents was truly intoxicating πŸ™‚ Keep Reading

Valentine’s Day restaurant menu roundup: Eat, drink, and be merry with your loved one!

Forget the snow storm, the cold and the impossible commute, and think positive thoughts about the week ahead: Valentine’s Day is coming up, and that’s a great reason for celebration! In a city that’s home to some of the world’s best restaurants, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to spending Valentine’s Day in high culinary style. DH and I will have to work late next Wednesday, which means we will postpone the celebration until Saturday. We don’t know where we’ll be going, but the good thing is there are plenty of choices, all mentioned below. Read on – and plan your magical moments with your loved one πŸ™‚

A famous romantic spot on the Chicago dining scene, Geja’s Cafe is planning the most elaborate Valentine’s celebration in its 53-year history.

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My review of Vapiano Magnificent Mile: Come for pizza, stay for more!

Somewhere on E Ontario St, in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, lies a new dining destination for those who need to grab a bite in-between shopping sprees this holiday season. The name of the restaurant is Vapiano, the ambiance is casual, and the food is fresh: give me a slice of their pizza, and I’m a happy camper! Recently I was invited to the grand opening of this new location (the second Vapiano location in downtown Chicago), and this is a review of my experience. It was a party which started early in the evening and ended around midnight, and we celebrated with balloons, red ribbons and lots of bubbly – and of course, plenty of food to go around πŸ™‚

Vapiano is an international chain of restaurants which offers made-to-order Italian food in a relaxed atmosphere. Keep Reading

Happy 10th anniversary, Chicago Gourmet!

If you’re a foodie, look no further than to Chicago Gourmet to satisfy your appetite for great food&drink and awesome entertainment. Indeed, no other festival compares to Chicago Gourmet when it comes to variety, quality and craftsmanship. I recently spent an amazing Sunday at this food fest trying delicious food, attending engaging chef demos and meeting old friends. It was hot, humid, but all the more exciting: where else do you get the chance to learn so much and to meet so many? πŸ™‚

Bon AppΓ©tit presents Chicago Gourmet celebrated its tenth anniversary in Millennium Park at the end of September. The packed schedule featured an array of cooking demos, wine & cocktail seminars, book signings, and amazing tastings from the best food and beverage spots in the country and beyond. Keep Reading