...PLUS CHICAGO DESIGNERS AT NY’S EMERGE! SHOW, ZOOLA IS OOH-LA-LA, AUTO SHOW HIGHLIGHTS, WINDY CITY WEST’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY, TAVERNITA OPENS BIG, NEW WATCH312 VIDEOS AND MORE!
When the Melmans speak, everyone listens...especially when it comes to new restaurants! They are the experts, as the opening of their latest venture, RPM Italian Restaurant, with reality stars Bill and Giuliana Rancic (E! Channel’s “Fashion Police” and Style Network’s “Giuliana & Bill”) proved on Saturday night, February 18th. After months of planning, this new restaurant, in partnership with acclaimed Chef Doug Psaltis, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, the Rancics and restaurateurs RJ, Jerrod and Molly Melman, will be the new “IT” spot for the Windy City. The star studded crowd of 500 made your head swivel at every sighting. Seen on the scene were Coach Lovie Smith and his beautiful wife MaryAnne, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and his wife Jackie, Windy City Live's Val Warner, Ryan Chiaverini, Nina Chantelle and Eric Himel, the Sun-Times’ and Fox Chicago’s Bill Zwecker, Ronald McDonald Charities’ Doug Porter, Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper and Sarah Cooley, ABC’s Sylvia Perez, former Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias with Tara Flocco, fitness expert Shea Vaughn, Miss Illinois Ashley Hooks, The Mix’s Kathy Hart, Bears defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, Michigan Avenue Magazine’s Susanna Negovan, Sonya Jackson, Tim and Mary Smithe, the Landon twins, NBC 5’s Marion Brooks, Stefan Holt and Alicia Roman, Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano, Watch312.com’s Bob and Kim Mills and Lindsay, Erica and Stevie Hoey, Paul Iacono, Cindy Burns, Catie Keogh and Jeff Conway of “24/7,” designer Azeeza Khan, Lisa Frame, NBC's Marcus Riley, artist Jesus Salgueiro, Justin Jacobson, Vincent Anzalone, Karen and Marvin Herman, BOKA Group's Kevin Boehm, Andrea and Laura Schwartz, Amalie Drury and JC Steinbrunner among so many others. Susanna Negovan commented that if a bomb had dropped on this place this night, Chicago would have to start over! The sexy 8,000-foot space at 52 W. Illinois (in the old Ben Pao spot) was designed by NYC based Monolayer. Its chic, modern and sophisticated décor is set in tones of black, white and grey and is ideal for dinner or late night. And I can guarantee you, the bar scene will be something to behold. Acclaimed bartender Paul McGee (director of cocktail development for Lettuce Entertain You) has designed signature cocktails as well as created an expansive list of wines that include more than 100 American and Italian vintners. The restaurant will also include a six-seat Amaro bar and offer a menu of digestives - true to an authentic Italian dining experience. The menu presents modern Italian cuisine with a nod to the classics and will include more than a dozen freshly prepared in-house pastas. A highlight will be Mama DePandi’s Bucatini Pomadoro – a much-loved recipe from Giuliana’s mother! – duck angolotti with black mission figs, short rib pappardelle, taleggio and black truffle tortellini, whole wood-grilled Branzino, lobster caprese, wood grilled octopus, gnocchi gorgonzola al forno as well as a selection of prime steaks, chops and slow-roasted meats. Chef Doug Psaltis brings a wealth of experience to this project having earned three stars from the New York Times and a Michelin star while running the kitchen of NY’s Country restaurant. Psaltis has also worked in some of the world’s most esteemed restaurants including Alain Duscasse at the Essex House in NY, Ducasse’s three Michelin star restaurant in Monaco, Le Louis XV, Mix in NY, and Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa Valley. Psaltis said, “Our focus throughout the restaurant is on offering great product and handcrafted items. The process is traditional, the spirit is Italian and the feel of the space and the food is modern.” Giuliana said, “Bill and I knew we wanted to work with the best so we’re excited to have teamed up with the Melmans and partner with one of the country’s most accomplished chefs. Doug has really done an amazing job creating our menu. Everything he cooks is delish so it was hard to narrow down our final choices!” Fans and foodies alike can get a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant’s planning process and opening as the details unfold in Season 5 of the Rancics’ hit Style Network show, “Bill and Giuliana,” premiering Monday, April 2nd at 8 p.m. In the meantime, check out the opening night action below on “Candid Candace Chicago” on Watch312.com – buon appetito! And to vote for your favorite “Candid Candace Chicago” celebrity interview, please click here!
The Chicago Auto Show closed this Sunday and was another crowd pleaser with more than 8,000 people attending on opening night alone! The 21st First Look for Charity gave the black-tie-mandatory crowd a chance to view more than 1,000 vehicles before the 10-day show opened to the public. Eighteen local non-profits benefited from this night that raised over $1.2 million for charities and included the 100 Club of Chicago, Boys & Girls Clubs, Catholic Charities, The Cradle Foundation and Misericordia. With auto show covering over 1.2 million square feet of space at McCormick Place, this show is NOT high heel friendly but the people at Cadillac provided pink slippers and foot massages at their gorgeous booth that also highlighted the Ciel, their dramatic new concept car. Blues Traveler performed while guests meandered through the space and enjoyed many interactive exhibits including a Jeep Wrangler obstacle course (one for kiddies, too), a Chevy Volt electric car ride, a playing card table at Scion and a Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 engine experience among others. You could even renew your driver's license at the Secretary of State's booth! Twenty restaurants participated including Fogo de Chao, 676 Restaurant & Bar at the Omni, Andy's Frozen Custard, Devon Seafood, Roy's Restaurant, Real Urban BBQ and David Burke's Primehouse. Cadillac donated two outstanding and much coveted raffle prizes: The first prize was won by Jill Nelson of Wheeling who will be driving a 2012 Escalade soon and the second prize, donated by Chicagoland Cadillac Dealers, was a Cadillac SRX, won by Homer Glen's Richard Onik. And to make these prizes even more exciting, a year of free gas was included! Notables onstage for this giveaway included emcee Alison Rosati, Larry Wert, Steve Foley, Jr. (auto show chairman), Dave Sloan (general manager) and Paul Brian (director of communications). Since First Look for Charity's inception in 1992, this event has raised more than $34 million for Chicago area non-profits. To see ALL event pics by Mila Samokhina, please click here and to view “Candid Candace Chicago” video coverage on Watch312.com, please see below!!!)
Dionne Williams has done it again! Her third Emerge! Fashion Runway Show provided a platform for emerging designers to showcase their work during New York Fashion Week and has grown quicker than anyone could’ve imagined! Fashion legend Andre Leon Talley was honored at the show held on February 14th at the Broad Street Ballroom. He was presented with his award by legendary designer and president of the CFDA, Diane Von Furstenberg. The spectacular program was hosted by actress Tracee Ellis Ross with co-host model Chavis Aaron. More than 500 guests attended and included retail buyers, media, celebrities and fashion influencers. This season’s elite group of designers included Elie Kuame (Elie Kuame Couture), Michael Alan Stein (The Michael Alan Stein Collection), Gordana Rasic and Omar Villalobos (GOCA Designs), Terri Stevens (Funkinbeautiful Design), Jahi Fitzgerald (Evoli Faccion) and Barbara Bates (Barbara Bates Designs). For more information on this exciting, must-attend event, please visit www.EmergeFashionNYC.com and to view ALL event pics, please click here!
The Women’s Board of the Lincoln Park Zoo held its 10th annual ZooLa fundraiser in the stunning residence of Elizabeth Foster and Michael Walsh on Wednesday, February 8th – an event that earned over $180,000 to ensure that Lincoln Park Zoo remains free and open to everyone year round. During the cocktail hour, Chicago artist Francine Turk created an oil-on-canvas original to be auctioned later, while guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres by J & L Catering. The event was co-chaired by Susan Flynn, Mary MacGregor and Kim Theiss. Also in attendance were WB president Abby Zanarini, Lincoln Park Zoo president Kevin Bell and a host of friends of the zoo. John Walcher of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers led the live auction that included lively bidding for a Chanel package. This unique offering included Chanel Fine Jewelry Planete earrings in white gold, diamonds and South Sea pearls plus a private tour of Coco Chanel’s private apartment in Paris. Other packages included a chance to join "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano at his show during NY Fashion Week as well as a Masters Golf package courtesy of Intersport. (To view ALL event pics, please click here.)
Don’t miss Windy City West celebrating 25 years of Chicagoans in entertainment in LA! This event, produced by Brenda Sexton’s Chicago Link Productions, will feature comedian Tom Dreesen as the emcee at RJ and Jerrod Melman’s popular LA-based restaurants, M Street Kitchen and Stella Rossa Pizza Bar. On Monday, March 5th, many of the original founders of Windy City West will host a private event for 350 VIP guests where they plan to honor Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts. Ricketts will receive the 2012 Windy City West “Man of the Year” award recognizing his many contributions to Chicago sports and commerce. The event was founded by Chicago writer/producer Ginny Weissman, Tom Dreesen and Rich Melman 25 years ago as a “culinary camaraderie,” a simple annual get-together for fellow Chicagoans yearning for a “taste of home, and now attracts some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Watch this space for further coverage of this annually exciting event!
Congrats to darling Chef Ryan Poli on the opening of his new restaurant, Tavernita, at 151 W. Erie! Owned and operated by Mercadito Hospitality, this restaurant features the world-class cuisine of chef/partner Poli and embodies the flavors of Spain and Latin America! Opening night attracted more than 500 fans to this hotspot! Can’t wait to try it – congrats Chef Poli!
Wow, Chicago is exploding with hot new restaurants and lots of excitement, as you can see! Thanks for letting me bring you to the party! Hope you enjoyed the ride and will be back next week for more Windy City fun!
P.S. Please check out this eSmiles program benefitting the new Ronald McDonald House! It’s an easy way for them to make $10,000! Just email a note, card or photo everyday from your emails and your message will be posted in the family room for all of the families to enjoy! For details, please visit www.hpesmiles.com or send your message to RMHChicagoCNI@eprintesmiles.com .