Friday, June 24, 2016

Open Casting Calls in Chicago Tomorrow for MasterChef Junior: Q & A with the Casting Directors

Do you know a kid who is a mini version of some of the great chefs you see on television? They'll be happy to know that casting directors are looking for junior culinary masters for the next season of taping for MasterChef Junior. Open casting calls take place tomorrow in Chicago at the Doubletree on the Mag Mile from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Scroll down for more details and some insight from the casting directors on what they're looking for and what they've encountered so far.





Chicago Foodie Sisters threw out some questions to the casting directors to get an idea of what it's like selecting participants from the show.

CFS: What are some specific qualities you're looking for in kids to appear on the show?

Kids that are very passionate about food and cooking!  We're looking for kids that love cooking so much that they would love the opportunity to learn as much as they can and grow as better cooks.  MasterChef Junior is a true culinary journey so we're looking for kids that have the passion and the potential to become great little MasterChef Juniors!       

CFS: How impressed have you been with the kids you've encountered so far?

That's a hard one to answer - over the moon impressed!  We've been blown away by the kids that come out to audition every season.  It really is incredible what some of these kids are capable of - a lot of them are already much better cooks then their parents!       

CFS: How many cities do you hold the open casting calls in? Are there any cities that seem to produce more talent than the others or where you think the kids just get the most exposure to many culinary cultures?


We go to 6 different cities across the country.  Every season we usually always visit New York, Chicago and Los Angeles - they're all big cities and fantastic food cities so kids there are usually exposed to all different kinds of foods.         

CFS: Any auditions that have been extremely memorable?

Honestly, anytime you can watch an 8 or 9-year-old cook a complete meal that not only smells and looks good but tastes great, it's something to remember!  

CFS: What are some of the most creative dishes you have seen made by these mini-chefs?

We've seen kids cook all kinds of great things - from Duck a' l'orange to Chocolate Molten Lava Cake to Lamb Chops - it's been quite amazing.  

CFS: What are the perfect ingredients that indicate to you that a kid will be a perfect part of the show?

Kids that are EXCITED about and for the opportunity, and  kids that are happy to share their love of food with America as well as share a bit of their lives with us.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Kenosha Welcomes the Border War Beer Fest


I've attended a number of Brewfest Partners events and they're always a good time. I love that they continue to expand and set-up in new venues for beer aficionados to get a taste of some of the best craft brews in the Midwest. 

A new event debuts this weekend at one of my favorite venues that is just over the Illinois border into Wisconsin. The Border War Fest will take place at HarborPark in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a beautiful space right on the shore of Lake Michigan. With the Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum in one direction and a sparkling blue horizon in the other, it's a great spot to enjoy the outdoors and sip on saisons, IPAs, stouts, ciders and more while you gaze out at sailboats and marvel at the beaches and lighthouses. For several years we've made a trip up to HarborPark for the annual Taste of Wisconsin (another awesome event you should mark on your calendar!) More than 100 varieties from 28 breweries will be available for sampling at the beer fest.

The Border War Beer Fest runs from 3 - 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 25 at Celebration Place in HarborPark (5501 Ring Road.) The event will include unlimited 3 oz. pours from Wisconsin and Illinois brewers and live music. Food vendors will offer a variety of foods, including Wisconsin specialties, such as cheese curds and sausage. Tickets are $45 for general admission or $79 for VIP, which allows entry at 2 p.m. Get tickets at borderwarbeerfest.com.
Attendees will also vote on which state has the best brews and the winner will take ownership of a traveling trophy.

If you're traveling from the Chicago area, make a weekend of it. Use that extra time to chill on one of the beaches that have free admission and free parking, visit one of the museums, do some shopping at the outlet mall or take a ride on the electric street car system. And don't forget to return later in the season to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Go to VisitKenosha.com for more info.




Kenosha Welcomes the Border War Beer Fest


I've attended a number of Brewfest Partners events and they're always a good time. I love that they continue to expand and set-up in new venues for beer aficionados to get a taste of some of the best craft brews in the Midwest. 

A new event debuts this weekend at one of my favorite venues that is just over the Illinois border into Wisconsin. The Border War Fest will take place at HarborPark in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a beautiful space right on the shore of Lake Michigan. With the Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum in one direction and a sparkling blue horizon in the other, it's a great spot to enjoy the outdoors and sip on saisons, IPAs, stouts, ciders and more while you gaze out at sailboats and marvel at the beaches and lighthouses. For several years we've made a trip up to HarborPark for the annual Taste of Wisconsin (another awesome event you should mark on your calendar!) More than 100 varieties from 28 breweries will be available for sampling at the beer fest.

The Border War Beer Fest runs from 3 - 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 25 at Celebration Place in HarborPark (5501 Ring Road.) The event will include unlimited 3 oz. pours from Wisconsin and Illinois brewers and live music. Food vendors will offer a variety of foods, including Wisconsin specialties, such as cheese curds and sausage. Tickets are $45 for general admission or $79 for VIP, which allows entry at 2 p.m. Get tickets at borderwarbeerfest.com.
Attendees will also vote on which state has the best brews and the winner will take ownership of a traveling trophy.

If you're traveling from the Chicago area, make a weekend of it. Use that extra time to chill on one of the beaches that have free admission and free parking, visit one of the museums, do some shopping at the outlet mall, take a ride on the electric street car system or plan a day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Go to VisitKenosha.com for more info.




Monday, June 20, 2016

Try Minerva Dairy During National Dairy Month (product giveaway)

Did you know June is National Dairy Month? In celebration of the natural goodness produced by our nation's dairy farmers, Minerva Dairy, the country's oldest family-owned cheese and butter dairy farm is offering a giveaway of some of their flavored butter.

Now operated by a 5th and 6th generation, Minerva Dairy dates back to 1894. They still produce an 84% Batch Churned Amish Butter as well as a variety of cheeses -  among them Swiss, Gouda, Colby and Cheddar. Gift baskets are available online for those cheese lovers in your life who enjoy fine varieties of cheese.

Besides natural flavored butter produced by pasture-raised cows, you'll find flavors such as garlic herb, maple syrup and cinnamon.

Find out more about the company and their products and order online at www.minervadairy.com.

To enter to win a prize pack of flavored butter from Minerva Farms, enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest runs through June 28. Good luck!

For an old school dining experience, visit Town Club Restaurant

When I was writing an article recently for a local paper on dining spots in Highland, Indiana, I came across one I hadn't heard of. I don't live too far from that community and have visited many of the restaurants there, mostly on Indianapolis Blvd and a few in the older downtown area.

So, when the name "Town Club" was suggested because they've been in the region for decades, I was perplexed. How had I never heard of it? Well, it is located in the southeast corner of town that I really don't drive through very often. I mentioned it to my dad, who is my frequent dining buddy, since he lives in the bordering town. He said he'd never heard of it, either. He asked the address and said he'd look for it next time he took my mom to get her hair done, which is in that area.

After interviewing the owner, Mark Hines, and hearing about a lot of the menu items, I decided I'd have to give it a try. Dad was interested, too, so I told him I'd take him for lunch to celebrate Father's Day. The place dates back to 1947 and has that old school supper club feel with dim lighting and dark decorating - where you could picture Frank Sinatra sitting at the bar with a scotch and a cigar. You've got to love that.

Since Hines had mentioned their "famous donut shrimp" I couldn't pass them up. They were very good with a light breading. He said that Town Club is the only place that makes them that way - and I can say I have never seen it before.

My $10.95 lunch portion included bread, a soup or salad and a potato of choice. Whether or not I get soup or a side salad always depends on if they have garlic dressing (entree salads are a different matter, but for a simple side salad, I have to have garlic dressing.) I LOVE freshly made garlic dressing when I dine out. If a place doesn't have garlic dressing, I usually go with soup. When I asked about garlic dressing, she said that was their house dressing, so that's what I got. The dressing was perfect and the salad was fresh and crisp. That made me a very happy camper.


I did wrestle with my decision. There was a ribeye sandwich that sounded pretty good (according to Hines, they have great steaks) and I understand they are also known for their perch, so I considered that, as well. I'm also told they make great tacos that are served on Wednesday nights, a recipe that hasn't changed since the 1950's.


Dad  decided to get the cream of mushroom soup and then he decided to have the 1/4 lb. grilled Johnsonville Brat with french fries.  I look forward to a return to try out some of the other menu items. For more info, visit www.townclubon45th.com



Sunday, June 19, 2016

Honestly Cranberry

I'm a huge salad fan and love adding different textures and ingredients beyond lettuce and tomato. At the Good Food Festival in Chicago this past spring, I was introduced to Honestly Cranberry. I sampled some at the vendor table where they emphasized that they are all natural with no added sugars, juices or oils.

I had really never given any consideration to added ingredients in cranberries. It was a label that I had never bothered to read, but once I went back home and took a look I was really surprised to see that there were 26 grams of stages and 33 grams of carbs in a 1/4 cup serving in the brand I had been using to supplement my salads.

In sampling it on its own, it was more tart than what I'd been used to, so I was anxious to try it in a salad and see how it blended in with other ingredients.

The folks at Honestly Cranberry were nice enough to send along a full package for me to use at home. My first concoction was this salad of spinach, yellow and red peppers, cucumbers, goat cheese crumbles and cranberries with a maple vinaigrette. Once combined with all these other veggies and lightly tossed with the dressing, the tartness was much less noticeable. The chewy texture was a nice addition to the salad and now that I know better when it comes to all the artificial stuff that normally go into dried cranberries, I probably should order some more. This Wisconsin product is available online at www.honestlycranberry.com.



Celebration at Maggiano's Little Italy

When you go out to dinner for a celebration, you can't go wrong with comforting Italian food. So, last week after we proudly watched my nephew graduate from the police academy before embarking on his new career as a law enforcement officer, we took a little drive to Maggiano's Little Italy in Oak Brook.

If you have a hearty appetite, the family-style is the way to go for a group of four or more. However, everyone in our party had something different in mind and we went with a few appetizers: calamari, bruschetta and stuffed mushroom. Totally top notch - such a good way to start the meal.


I opted for the lighter take on the fettuccine with chicken and asparagus. Several of their menu items are offered as Lighter Take versions. They do a great job of staying close to the original dish and not sacrificing flavor in reducing the calories in the dish by a nice amount. This was also one of the menu items that allowed you to choose an entree to also take home to enjoy the next day, which is a fabulous deal.




(my nephew opted for mussels, which he quite enjoyed.)

DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar at Navy Pier

Last fall DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar debuted at Navy Pier carrying over some of the favorite menu items from the popular Lakeview location.

The grass fed beef at DMK Burger Bar has a list of options - some topped with chorizo, guacamole, chipotle aioli, fried egg, marinated tomato and other goodies. There's also a bison burger, a turkey burger and a house veggie & grain burger. A few delicious-sounding salads are on the menu that also can be ordered with griddled chicken breast or grilled salmon. Fry options include parmesan & truffle cree, sweet potato with lemon tabasco aioli and Wisconsin cheddar & scallions.

On the Fish side, options range from fish & chips to calamari to gumbo and clam chowder to sandwiches of cod, crispy chicken, salmon or crab as well as fish sliders and a Satchmo Po'Boy with shrimp & crawfish. I opted for an order of two crispy shrimp tacos with cabbage slaw and guacamole. The tacos were fantastic and it left me wishing I could order a larger portion of the shrimp. Even with my usually light appetite, the two tacos didn't do it for me. I could have easily eaten two more - or a big plate of those shrimp with some cocktail sauce. So, I'd plan on it as an appetizer to a burger or sandwich or double up on the order.

There's also a cocktail and beer menu and you can enjoy it in their small dining room or out on the patio overlooking the lake. For more info, visit www.dmkrestaurants.com.



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Taste on Chestnut Offers Summer Cooking Classes

One of my favorite restaurants that I visited last year was Taste of Chestnut when I attended the opening reception. Everything was absolutely amazing and so beautifully presented. I thought I'd share the upcoming dates for cooking classes being offered there by owner/chef Steven Leviton. What a wonderful way to spend a summer evening! 



Learn how to prepare the finest dishes using summer produce from your home garden or farmer's market at Taste On Chestnut. Join chef and owner, Steven Leviton, in our open kitchen and create culinary masterpieces you can learn to make (and eat!) then recreate at home! Cost is $55 per person.
 
Tasteful Tour of the Mediterranean
Wednesday, June 29, 5-7 p.m.
 
Grill Masters
Wednesday, July 27, 5-7 p.m.
 
Couples in the Kitchen
Wednesday, August 24, 5-7 p.m.
 
Call 847-441-0134 to reserve your spot! 
 For more information, email info@tasteonchestnut.com

Taste On Chestnut
505 Chestnut
Winnetka, IL 60093
P: 847 441 0134

From the inbox: Olive Theory offering dads a treat this weekend


OLIVE THEORY PIZZERIA BAKES A BETTER FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND
FOR CHICAGOLAND DADS JUNE 18 & 19
DAD RECEIVES ONE FREE PIZZA WITH PHOTO OF CHERISHED FATHERHOOD MEMORY

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (May 23, 2016) – Join the Olive Theory family to celebrate what it means to be a dad.  On Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19, all fathers are invited to visit Olive Theory Pizzeria, located at 1400A Butterfield Road in Downers Grove, and show a photo of what fatherhood means to them.  Each dad will receive a customized signature size pizza (value $7.99) built with his favorite house-made sauces, cheeses, meats, vegetables and finishes.

“As a family owned company, fatherhood is special to us at Olive Theory, and we can’t wait to see how our customers share the sentiment,” said John Kwok, owner of Olive Theory Pizzeria. “With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, dads can take a well-deserved break with the special people in their life and enjoy a meal exactly how they want it.”

At Olive Theory, pizzas, pie sandwiches and salads are made fresh to order, in house and your way. Choose from Build Your Own or House Favorites, all $7.99 each. Personal 11-inch pizzas feature fresh, high-quality ingredients and house-made dough.  Specialty pizzas include Buddha’s Karma; fire roasted garlic olive oil, mozzarella, spinach and Parmesan, and Darwin’s Natural Selection; classic red, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, Italian beef, ham & bacon. Calzone-style pie sandwiches include Hermes’ Hoagie, garlic pesto, prosciutto, red onion, tomato, provolone, lettuce and garlic olive oil, and all are seasoned with Poseidon’s Blessing, a house blend of parmesan, oregano & sea salt.  Greens include the Mediterranean and Anti-Pasto. And, for dessert try one of the in-house, daily baked Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Beer is now available to pair with a pizza, pie sandwich or salad. Choose between Miller Lite, Blue Moon Belgian White, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, Revolution Anti-Hero or Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

For every ten pizzas purchased, Olive Theory will donate one pizza to support like-minded organizations who want to give back.  Currently partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank to distribute “Pledge Pies” to community members who need it the most, the nonprofit is a member of Feeding America and works to solve hunger in northern Illinois through innovative programs and partnerships.

For more information, visit olivetheorypizzeria.com or call (630) 519-5152. Connect on Facebook and Instagram.

About Olive Theory Pizzeria
Established in 2015, Olive Theory promises to Eat Well and Do Good. Inspired by Greco-Roman mythology, Olive Theory’s mission is to create a business that promotes sustainable growth for the community through learning and education. They strive to inspire and empower individuals and communities through the love of food, learning and philanthropy. They also believe food is personal and should be made just the way you like it. That’s why everyone is encouraged to customize with a variety of house-made sauces, cheeses, meats, vegetables and finishes. Olive Theory is open daily from 11a.m. to 10 p.m. For catering call (630) 519-5152. Visit Olive Theory Pizzeria at olivetheorypizzeria.comFacebook, and Instagram. For more information about their 1/10 Pledge, visit http://olivetheorypizzeria.com/pledge.html.


Information provided by Margie Korshak, Inc.