Thursday, April 09, 2015

Mother's Day Brunch at The Signature Room at the 95th® (Chicago,IL)

Broadway in Chicago>>Special Offer for the Joffrey Ballet's New Works (Chicago)

SAIC Fashion 2015 and THE WALK Return to Millennium Park May 8 (Chicago,IL)

Chefs' Big Challenge: Finding a Way to Balance their Lives and their Work

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Chefs' Big Challenge:
Finding a Way to Balance their Lives and their Work
It's no surprise to people in the restaurant business that long hours come with the territory. Most working chefs put in upwards of 60 to 80 hours each week. When they are not on the line cooking, they are expediting, ordering food and supplies, planning menus, fine tuning recipes, training staff, supervising the food safety procedures and the list goes on. All of this adds up to many hours and usually six days a week minimum.

It's also no surprise that chefs can be prone to job burnout, which is why many chefs leave their positions to take time off before they re-emerge at a different establishment.

But for many chefs, especially those that own their own restaurant, leaving is simply not an option. For these chefs, finding a formula for balancing their working lives with the rest of their lives is the key to their longevity and, in some cases, their survival.

Two-time James Beard award winning chef Sarah Stegner, co-owner of the hugely successful Prairie Sarah Stegner 300Grass Cafe in Northbrook, Illinois, and also a wife and mother, is one person who has made balancing her work life with her personal life an important priority. During the past three years, she has begun a joyous yet rigorous regimen to stay fit and healthy-physically, mentally and spiritually. She consulted with a nutritionist who helped her identify the most appropriate food choices for health and took up Cumbia and Bachata dance lessons at May I Have This Dance Please as a way to get fit, have fun and release stress. Stegner has lost more than 80 pounds and looks and feels great.

"Finding a balance in life makes us more creative and better able to do our jobs," said Stegner. "It makes us more effective when handling challenging situations.  It gives us a more defined perspective and a release from the tension."

One night last year, Stegner went out dancing with her cooks. She saw that all of them were great dancers. "They were nice and tried to include me but I really couldn't keep up, so I thought 'I want to learn this, too.'" She started taking Latin Dance lessons at a studio called May I have this Dance Please on Elston Avenue in Chicago. She began learning bachata, cumbia and salsa. 

"My teacher, Itza Riedas, helped me open a door in my life that has given me fun, exercise, and a connection with a different world," said Stegner. "It has allowed me to relax and be myself. As a chef I live by the idea that I am only as good as the last meal I served-and that can be a lot of pressure. I love the kitchen atmosphere, the creativity with the food; managing a team of people that are dynamic and focused, right there with me when I need them. It's a great job and I want to be able to give it as much energy and focus as I can. To do that I need to be happy and in good mental and physical shape."
Stegner has a husband and ten year old daughter at home who are, and always will be, her priorities.

"That means setting an example of how to live and work," she said. "My daughter sees that I am happy and focused at work. There are moments of tension, drama, and always some crisis because that's the nature of the restaurant business but I thrive being part of it and love what I do."

Other colleagues of Stegner also have found a way to achieve work/life balance. Carrie Nahabedian, another Beard award winner and owner of Naha and Brindille restaurants in Chicago, is a world traveler who goes on fabulous culinary and sightseeing tours around the globe.

Nora Pouillon, owner of the celebrated Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC, does something every day to maintain her health, keep her life balanced and relieve the stress of running a high-profile restaurant. "I maintain a Synergie (energy, polarity and yoga) program every day," she said.

"On Mondays I do yoga and energy work with dance. I love it. On Tuesdays I do step and weights. Wednesdays I work with a personal trainer to maintain an all-around feeling of strength and energy. On Thursdays, I do the step and weights and on Fridays I again do yoga." Saturdays for Pouillon start busy and end with relaxation. When the weather is good she goes on a hike with her daughter, granddaughter or a friend, and also treks around the farmers market. Then she visits friends on the Chesapeake or enjoys a swim or hot tub. Sundays are the day to relax and be social-museums and then hosting dinner at her house with friends. "I love when friends come over; we cook and dine together."

Karen Small, a staunch supporter of sustainable agriculture, is the owner and executive chef of the acclaimed Flying Fig in Cleveland, Ohio. She loves giving back to the community by working on benefits for local non-profits as well as teaching cooking classes that encourage healthy eating for children and the financially challenged. 

"Yoga is my biggest sanity keeper; I try to practice every day if I can," said Small. "I've been doing it for ten years and I'm more committed to it than ever. Small had to face the challenge that most chefs do: being in a restaurant kitchen every day requires discipline in order to avoid gaining weight. "I lost 30 pounds doing yoga," she said. "I had to change my diet and keep restaurant eating as a special occasion."

Small also loves to garden and enjoys movies and reading. "I spend a lot of time with my two Labradors. I try to take care of myself when I have time to get away. I also find cooking out of the restaurant environment, at home, is really soothing. I also travel quite a bit; I was in Rome and Sicily in November. In February I went to Sayulita, Mexico, outside of Puerto Villarta. It's a hippie arts community and it's a great place to go and regroup. I try to get away at least twice a year."

For Stephanie Pearl Kimmel, owner of the Marché Restaurant Group in Eugene, Oregon, connecting with the seasons is the key. Whether she's walking to work (which she does every day), going to the market (which she does every week) or getting her hands in the dirt in her garden, dedicating some time each day to remind herself of the cycle of the seasons does the trick. "Taking some solitary time to connect with the season is the best way for me to really be in the present," she says. "That connection is so fundamental to the reason that I'm in this business, it's a wonderful daily reminder."
"We also make sure that the workplace itself is in balance-so that work is a pleasure, even when it's busy and full. We are constantly checking ourselves to be sure that we're having fun, that our crew is taking care of themselves, and that things are running smoothly because the restaurant itself is healthy, says Pearl Kimmel.

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Prairie Grass Cafe Hosts Benefit for Chicago Latin Fusion April 24

Prairie Grass Cafe is hosting a benefit for Chicago Latin Fusion, Friday, April 24 beginning at 10 p.m. 15942253_l latin dancers Bring your dancing shoes! The evening features Cumbia and Bachata dance lessons by Itza Riedas and Jorge Licona and performances by Chicago Latin Fusion. Prairie Grass Cafe chef / partner Sarah Stegner, who has been studying these Latin dance forms for over a year, promises to join in.

Prairie Grass Cafe will be providing delicious Latin canapés, beer and wine. The recommended donation is $50. There also will be a cash bar.

Reservations are required. Please contact Prairie Grass Cafe at 847-205-4433 or visit the restaurant at 601 Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook.

About Prairie Grass Cafe
Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd.; Northbrook, IL) supports Chicago's Green City Market and local sustainable farms, selecting the freshest ingredients to reflect the season. Prairie Grass Cafe currently serves lunch Monday - Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Prairie Grass Cafe also serves breakfast Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays 9:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Light fare is available in the bar Monday through Friday 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to make a reservation, please call (847) 205-4433 or visit


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Broadway in Chicago>>Advance Access to Once Tickets


Chicago Zine Fest 2015 is coming the weekend of May 8-9


Chicago Zine Fest 2015 - Celebrates its Sixth Year with New Dates and Locations

 Chicago Zine Fest, an annual celebration of self-publishing efforts, is now marking its sixth year. For the 2015 festival, there will be a new date as the festival moves to the month of May, held during the weekend of Friday May 8th and Saturday May 9th. The festival also brings its exhibition to a new location, Plumbers’ Union Hall in the West Loop.

“We’re excited for these changes. It’ll be great to welcome our audience to such a historic Chicago venue,” said festival promotion committee chair John Wawrzaszek.

The festival weekend kicks off Friday May 8th at 5 pm with a panel titled Zines: A Future Craft which will be a discussion with zine creators Jonas, Julia Eff, and Ocean Capewell, moderated by Jenna Freedman. This event is sponsored by The University of Chicago Library. The night continues with a pair of readings. At 7 pm join our annual youth reading, Zines: The Next Generation followed by an 8 pm reading by festival exhibitors. CART services for the deaf and hard of hearing will be provided at each of Friday’s events. All events will be held at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave.

The weekend’s main attraction will be a zine exhibition taking place on Saturday May 9th, 11 am- 6 pm. Over 250 zinesters will exhibit their publications, host workshops, and lead panel discussions in the spirit of self-publishing. The exhibition will be held at Plumbers’ Union Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd.

Organizing goals for the 2015 fest included increasing the number of festival exhibitors and forming new community partnerships. In choosing a new location for the festival exhibition, there has been room for more tables allowing more exhibitors to showcase their work. The festival registration filled up in record time this year with all tables selling out in under an hour. Nearly half of registered exhibitors will be taking part of CZF for their first time this year. New community partnerships have allowed the festival to schedule programming topics that meet the festival’s mission and support the work of its partner organizations.

“CZF strives to offer diverse programming every year in order to continue to engage our communities in conversations,” says festival programming coordinator Julie Koslowsky.

The zine exhibition will be supported with programming throughout the day including an activity making area, button making presented by Busy Beaver Buttons, and a photo booth provided by Glitter Guts. Workshop topics include radical poetry, interactive performances, resisting assimilation, and hands-on drawing techniques.

“There's a different experience that we offer at an event like the Chicago Zine Fest where consumers can chat with the zinesters and artists who created the work,” says Koslowsky.

The Chicago Zine Fest is a volunteer-operated event creating an outlet for small press and independent publishers to showcase their work aiming to make DIY zine making accessible, highlight the talents of self-published artists, and give independent artists a chance to interact and swap skills. The Chicago Zine Fest 2015 is sponsored by 826CHI, Chicago Publishers Resource Center, CHIRP Radio, InoPrints, The International School of Comics, Perfectly Acceptable Press, The University of Chicago Library, and Quimby's Bookstore.

CZF 2015 artwork was created by Chicago artist and illustrator Corinne Mucha (see attached poster).

All event spaces are wheelchair accessible. All events are free and open to the public.

for more information.


Tom Burrell and Jay Levine Honored at Chicago Int. Film Festival Television Awards Apr. 22

John Bradshaw Offers A Program To Help Couples Rekindle Love And Keep Their Marriage Intact

Tokio Pub Celebrates 4th Birthday with Special Dinner (Schaumburg,IL)

 Tokio Pub is turning 4 this month and you're invited to celebrate! On Monday, April 27, 2015, the restaurant is commemorating their 4th year of serving up the hottest Asian fusion food around with a lunchtime giveaway and a birthday party dinner!

Join Tokio Pub for lunch on April 27th and receive a gift certificate to use at a later date matching the food & drink total of your bill. Lunch reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 847-278-5181.

And for dinner, book your seats for a one-of-a-kind birthday dinner showcasing some of Tokio Pub's favorite dishes and drinks over the years! Diners are asked to add to the festive mood by wearing a celebratory party hat; in return, all guests receive a $40 gift certificate to use at a future visit AND will be entered into a drawing for a ticket to Tokio Pub's next monthly beer dinner. The birthday party dinner costs $45 per guest (excluding tax and tip); reservations are required and can be made by calling 847-278-5181.

Tokio Pub's 4th Birthday Dinner menu includes:

Course One
Nachos (pork belly sausage, wonton, pickled cabbage)
"4 Years of Sparkling" Sake

Course Two
Tuna Butterfly at Spring Field (tuna, salmon, beets, parsley, enoki, pickled ginger, yuzu jelly, garlic soy sauce)
"Hoppy Birthday to Us"

Course Three
Bacon & Egg Ramen (bacon dashi, smoked chashu pork, fried egg yolk)
"A Celebration to Another Year" Beaujolais

Course Four
Birthday Cake Egg Roll
Cake Batter Booze Shake

Tokio Pub blends the eclectic flavors of Japanese and American Pub cuisine and serves them in a richly-hued dining room with lively music, friendly service, & an edgy atmosphere. Located adjacent to Shaw's Crab House in Schaumburg's Streets of Woodfield, Tokio Pub is open for lunch, dinner, brunch, & cocktails.

The flavors of Japan, Latin America, and the U S of A are combined to create a unique pub menu. Try specialty Sushi, Tacos, & our Signature Hot Rock. Don't forget to indulge in the House-made Ramen Noodle Bowls or Tokio Pub's famous Beef Ramen Burger.

Tokio Pub is open on Mondays from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Valet parking is available for $5 per vehicle, a four seasons patio for 40 diners is available, and all major credit cards are accepted. For more info, call 847.278.5181, visit the website at, tweet at @Tokio_Pub, join the Mobile Club (text Tokio to 30364), or keep up on Facebook at