Candid Candace: Food and Drink

Food and Drink

HERE'S WHY CHICAGO STLL SHINES BRIGHT, EVEN IN THE WINTER

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Le Select, hot new restaurant from the Boka Group!

The hotly anticipated grand opening of Le Select, the French brasserie that is the newest addition to co-owners Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz’s expanding culinary empire,

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Welcome to Le Select!

took place on January 25. Thanks to the throng of A-listers and foodies, the restaurant hummed with excitement for this handsome spot that will soon be on everybody’s Hot List. The River North restaurant at 504 N. Wells was formerly the Hudson, SushiSamba and lastly Bottled Blond. It is awash is calming shades of neutral browns and reds with scattered greenery and large, spacious booths. On this opening night, guests were greeted with champagne, an open bar and a lite buffet. On the first floor, the spacious dining room features row upon row of arching lights, which was reminiscent of lighting in

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Monika Dixon, Kevin Boehm (co-owner Boka Rest. Group) and cute friend.

old time Paris dance halls. Upstairs, a dark, cozy bar area awaits with lots of intimate seating. Even the elevator to the 2nd floor has red lighting as a sexy promise of what’s to come. The Boka Restaurant Group always delivers and

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Beautiful lighting in Le Select dining room.

this is definitely apparent in this 12,000-square-foot-space with an additional 2,000-sq-ft of event space. The Boka Boys have tapped Chicago native Chef Daniel Rose to help with this big endeavor. Rose rose to prominence with award-winning restaurants in Paris and New York. (This dynamic trio will soon be opening another eatery inside L.A.’s Hoxton Hotel, according to Eater). The menu is extensive with specialties of

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Chuck and Michael Kutza celebrate the opening.

the house that include duck breast a l’orange, choucroute Strasbourgeoise (traditional sauerkraut, smoked sausage, veal boudin, thick-cut bacon, knockwurst), roasted chicken and cote de boeuf. Cara Sandoval is the restaurant’s service director (co-founder and GM of the two-Michelin-starred Oriole restaurant), Kevin Roskoskey is GM (a former operating partner at

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Tom Kehoe and friend.

Scott Harris Hospitality) and chef is Audrey Renninger (moving from Paris where she worked at Rose’s La Bourse et La Vie). Renninger’s chef de cuisine is Chicago local Jason Heiman. Rob and Kevin are masters at bringing together the right teams for the right spots and, as you can imagine, they have nailed it on this one as well. Seen on the crowded scene were Monika Dixon with her new fiancé, Donnie Madia, Dr. Julius Few, Michael Kutza, Nina Mariano, Pasquale Gianni, Jon Harris, Donnie Weisberg, Chuck Jordan, Tom Kehoe and so many others. See video here! (Le Select, 504 N. Wells St., Chicago, leselectchicago.com, 312.896.4504) Click here for more photos!

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Le Select at 504 N. Wells in Chicago.

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Marc and Dr. Jamie Pasquale (Board Chair) and Co-Chairs Devanee and Alex Washington
Marc and Dr. Jamie Pasquale (Board Chair) and Co-Chairs Devanee and Alex Washington.

The Children’s Research Fund’s signature event, “The Children’s Ball,” returned this year to the Hilton Chicago on December 3. Aptly themed “Re-Connect,” the event attracted more than 850 guests to the black-tie gala hosted by 2022 Children’s Research Fund Campaign and Children’s Ball Co-Chairs Devanee and Alex Washington.  The Washingtons made it a family affair by involving their three dynamic children, who range in age from 11 to 16

Kenneth Milstead and Junell Lewis
Kenneth Milstead and Junell Lewis.

years old. Each had a role in the evening, introducing speakers and even reading an original poem based on the “ReConnect” theme. The evening began with a cocktail reception that opened with the drumline from Chicago’s St.

Alex Washington IV  Victoria Washington  Nadia Washington
Alex Washington IV, Victoria Washington and Nadia Washington.

Ignatius College Prep. Guests were led into the International Ballroom for the first dance set by the headline band Time Chicago. After welcoming remarks, guests enjoyed an energetic set from youth band Next Week, followed by an elegant, seated dinner. A program featured an inspiring patient impact video and paddle-raise.  Speakers for the evening included co-chairs Devanee and Alex

Children's Research Fund Board Chair Dr. Jamie Pasquale
Children's Research Fund Board Chair Dr. Jamie Pasquale.

Washington, Dr. Tom Shanley (Lurie Children’s President/CEO) and Jamie Pasquale (Children’s Research Fund Chair). The audience was also inspired by the words and work of pediatric

Shannon Harvey  Dr. Jamie Pasquale  Katie Harvey
Shannon Harvey, Dr. Jamie Pasquale and Katie Harvey.

neurosurgeon Dr. Sandi Lam, who spoke about the need to fund research “so that no child suffers from intractable epileptic seizures.”  “The Children’s Research Fund has been committed to the advancement of research for more than 70 years,”

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Teenage band, NEXT WEEK, performs.

explained Devanee Washington. “As parents, we share the belief that the good health of children is a precious gift, and we are honored to chair this year’s Children’s Research Fund Campaign and Children’s Ball.” Over $3 million was raised at the event, helping to reach a record-breaking $7.3

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Lindsay Boles, Thomas Saleh, Thaddeus Chatto and Emily Hogikyan.

million total for the annual campaign. The funds raised will go towards the Children’s Research Fund’s current five-year, $10 million commitment to

HINSDALE's Gabrielle Romano  Florence Ann Romano  AJ Ryan  Christiana Ryan  Benita Romano
Gabrielle Romano, Florence Ann Romano, AJ Ryan, Christiana Ryan and Benita Romano.

support the wide spectrum of research conducted at the Manne Research Institute and the Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.  Over the 70 years since it was established as a fundraising organization, the group’s charitable efforts have generated support from individuals, corporations and foundations, raising more than $115 million to advance medical research. (This year’s leading event sponsors include, presenting sponsor, The Boeing Company, as well as CBRE, Inc., Wind Point Partners, and Wintrust, among others. luriechildrens.org, photos by Ana Miyares)

Hinsdale's Gabrielle Romano  Christiana Ryan  Benita Romano  Laura Ferrara (River Forest) and Florence Ann Romano
Gabrielle Romano, Christiana Ryan, Benita Romano, Laura Ferrara and Florence Ann Romano.

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Damarr Brown, chef de cuisine at Virture, is nominated for Emerging Chef in this year's James Beard Awards.

Chicago snagged 11 nominations in this year’s James Beard Award! The full list of 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards Semifinalists can be found here and on the James Beard Foundation website. Nominees will be announced on

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Chicago snagged 11 nominations in this year's James Beard Awards!

Wednesday, March 29, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Smyth, Obelix and Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining are among the 11 Chicagoland restaurants named as semifinalists for the

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Obelix, at 700 N. Sedgwick, is up for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant.

James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards.  Damarr Brown, chef de cuisine at Virtue, is among semifinalists for Emerging Chef.  Virtue’s chef and owner, Erick Williams, won a James Beard Award last year for Best Chef: Great Lakes. Other local highlights include Sepia, a semifinalist in the Outstanding Hospitality category, and All Together Now, which is up for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program. Five Chicago restaurants made the cut (out of 20) for Best Chef: Great Lakes: Diana Dávila Boldin (Mi Tocaya

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Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining, 2043 W. Howard, is up for Best New Restaurant from the James Beard Awards.

Antojería), Thai Dang (HaiSous), Paul Fehribach (Big Jones), Tim Flores and Genie Kwon (Kasama) and Zubair Mohajir (Wazwan). In the Best New Restaurant category, two Chicago candidates will vie for the honor: Obelix, the beautiful French restaurant from brothers Oliver and Nicolas Poilevey; and Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining, one of only two Cambodian restaurants in Chicago. (See Eater’s list of 25 Best New Restaurants in Chicago.) The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards—established in 1990 and first awarded in 1991—are one of five separate recognition programs of the Awards. This Awards program celebrates excellence across a range of experiences, from fine-dining establishments to casual gems, and emerging talents to established masters. The 2023 Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists are recognized across 23 categories, including the new Award for Outstanding Bakery.

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The cozy and charming Armitage Ale House at 1000 W. Armitage.

From the outside, you would walk right past it and not even notice. But step through the doors of the Armitage Ale House at the northwest corner of Armitage and

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Beautiful and delicious offerings at Armitage Ale House, NOT to be confused with the Old Town Ale House! LOL!

Sheffield and you have entered a whole new world. One you probably thought didn’t exist anymore in these modern times. Think London, circa 1926, a favorite neighborhood pub, but oh so much more. Steeped in ambiance, the restaurant's attention to detail is astounding. The woodwork you could even call

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Friendly, gregarious servers at the Armitage Ale House.

masterful, from the rolled columns to the beadboard pass-throughs, even the secret places where only the help goes has not been left unattended. The fireplace in the dining room warmly reflects the delight on the diners’ faces as they tuck into tandoori-style roasted chicken, English-cut prime rib, truffle bucatini, pot pies (steak and ale, chicken, spiced lamb, pheasant and morel, oxtail and red wine) and so much more. The booths are cozy and spacious with each one lit by tiny, vintage

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With Nina Mariano, Susanna Wickham, Kathy Piccone, Jennifer Sutton Brieva,and Paul Iacono.

looking shaded lamps. The room lights are perfectly dimmed and you just never know when a customer might get busy on the antique piano in the corner of the charming bar. The background music, thankfully, matches the ambiance to a tee. This spot is one of my new favorites, but be forewarned, reservations are hard to come by. A friend of mine even made reservations before she had guests to invite, just to be safe. (Opened October 2022, armitagealehouse.com, 1000 W. Armitage, resy.com, open for brunch). (Special thanks to Jennifer Sutton Brieva for the intro!)

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Intimate, old world atmosphere at Armitage Ale House, 1000 W. Armitage.

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It was a sell-out for First Bites Bash! Shown here, the Harrington Family (Michael, Barb and Charlie Dwyer) and friend.

The official kickoff to the 16th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, First Bites Bash, brought thousands of people to the Chicago Field Museum on January 19. Tickets sold out in record time for this happy celebration of Chicago’s

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With the Robert's Pizza & Dough Company team, Dana and Robert Garvey (and Chuck).

culinary scene. The purple and white up-lighting out front shined like a beacon for guests who were anxious to welcome back this annual party that was held for the first time since the pandemic. Gourmet bites, wine, beer and spirits from over 50 vendors filled the Great Hall as DJ’s pumped music into the background. Robert

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Gene & Georgetti's was well represented at the event.

Garvey from Robert’s Pizza and Dough Company and his wife Dana were manning their own booth handing out treats for lucky attendees. Gene & Georgetti was there, represented by Michelle Durpetti and Collin Pierson. We sampled other delicious bites from Ocean Prime, Eataly Chicago, Bistronomic, TAO, Summer House, Wildfire,

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With Lisa Kosty, Lisa Fielding and Kathleen Martorano. 

Orso’s Italian Restaurant, STK Steakhouse, Pinstripes, Jaleo, NoMI, Nonnina, and so many more. Seen on the scene, Sylvia Perez (Fox-32 TV) with her beautiful daughter, Sam Toia (President of the Illinois Restaurant Association), Lisa Fielding (WBBM-AM 780) and friends, Charlie Dwyer and Michael and Barb Harrington (Darvin IMG_6180Furniture), and so many more. Beloved Chef Darnell Reed of Luella’s Southern Kitchen served as the Host Chef for the event. A portion of the proceeds from the kick-off will be donated to Kitchen Possible, an organization dear to Chef Reed’s heart – it empowers kids in underserved communities through cooking.  “I’m just happy that we’re all here because we survived. We survived COVID, we’re all here,” said Reed. The event also benefited the James Beard Foundation Foundation’s Scholarship Program, which assists aspiring and established culinary professionals. During the week from January 20 through February 5, enjoy special prix fix menus from over 300 participating restaurants around town. Check out list here, reservations are highly recommended.

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When you think of fairytale weddings, do you have one that comes to mind? Well, on January 21 in the Gold Coast Room of the Drake Hotel, Chuck and I experienced one of the most magical weddings we've ever seen. Popular event and wedding planner Derrick Joseph Taylor had the chance to create his very own fairytale with now-new-husband William Scott Ellsworth. (And yes, they met through a dating app so that just tells you that online dating definitely is an option!) From the moment you entered the French Room, where an elegant cocktail reception awaited, until the very last dance following dinner in the most beautiful room in the city, attendees experienced pure magic. The room was decorated in grand, understated elegance with the florals, crystal, vases, chairs, bars and even the silver reflecting carpet leading to the ceremony, all matching the existing decor--brilliant! There were absolutely no mistakes, no missteps, nothing that didn't fit perfectly in that fantastical dreamscape. All of the wedding party was dressed in black and white, carrying long bouquets of white freesia. Even the couple's dachshunds wore outfits that matched the wedding party-- black organza with brilliant, sparkling brooches on top. At the podium, the wedding party gathered round Derrick and Scott as they exchanged their vows. Derrick said, "You acknowledge my strengths and accept all of my faults, allowing me to be broken in your arms -- the safest place I've ever been. You make me want to be a better person every single day. You were so worth the wait. You are a million dreams and a million prayers come true." Scott replied, "From our finest hour to our darkest hour, I will be there for you, holding your hand, walking through every doorway together." There wasn't a dry eye in the house. The happy couple also adhered to an old tradition, especially popular in farming communities, of donning crowns which symbolize power and dignity. Derrick and Scott were surrounded with love from both sets of parents as well as Scott's daughter Madison Ellsworth. Following the ceremony, guest enjoyed champagne, cocktails and delicious hors d'oeuvres. A darling "Ring the Bell" station supplied guests with the signature cocktail of the night through a closed curtain when they rang a bell. It went off throughout the reception, as you can imagine! LOL! For the seated dinner, guests enjoyed the music of the always fabulous Tina Jenkins (TJ) Crawley, a string quartet and more. It was truly one of the most beautiful and touching ceremonies we've had the honor of witnessing. Long may you love Derrick and Scott!

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And speaking of happy moments, birthday wishes are in order for Ken Norgan! For his 80th, he feted friends at Nico Osteria on Rush Street. The top floor was filled with friends, many from his longtime affiliations with the arts and nonprofits, including several who flew in from around the globe to celebrate this milestone birthday. Ken is a board member at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, on the board of trustees for the Swedish American Museum, was on the board of directors for the Lyric Opera, the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation Board, the Bernadotte Foundation for Children's Eyecare, on the board of Common Threads, among others. He was a McDonald's franchise owner for 55 years, having retired in 2013 to travel the world and visit with friends. Ken was kind enough to introduce me to Ronald McDonald House Charities where I eventually helped found its Women's Board for the House at Lurie Children's. As you can see, he is a very popular guy who I know for a fact has never met a stranger. He also supports the arts in Miami, where he has an exquisite condo. The party was a reflection of a life very well lived with toasts, happy chatter, photo opps and more. In the downstairs area of the restaurant, photos flashed across a wide screen filled with images of Ken's full life. Seen on the scene were Jose "Pepe" Conforme, Joan Harris, Greg Thompson and Greg Cameron, Neal Zucker and Marko Inglendza, Amelia and Alejandro Silva, John Walcher, Helen Melchior, Sean Eshagy and hubby, Mary Ann Rose and Heinz Kern, Michel Desjardins, Pierre Desy, Paul Iacono, Anne Kaplan, Marc DeMoss, Matt Olaveson, Craig Bergmann and Paul Klug, Brian and Robin Velo, Vanessa Grace, Patrick Gleason, Corinne and Chris Doerr, Diane and Richard Weinberg, Alexandra Nichols (who went to the same school in Bad Reichenhall (Bavaria) in the 1960s as Ken), Mara Mills Barker, James Kinoshita, Merrillyn Kozier (President of the Harris Theater Board), Franco LaMarca, Adam Vitale, Jan Steinbrecher and his parents Barbara and Norbert Steinbrecher (who flew in from Switzerland), Louise Frank and so many more. What a great celebration for a fabulous man. Love and congrats Ken, here's to 80 more! (Photos by Mila Samokhina)

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Gordon Ramsay is loving Chicago! So much so, that he's decided to expand into the suburbs in the spring, into downtown Naperville. The celebrity chef will be opening Ramsay's Kitchen, just the third in the nation, at 39 W. Jefferson Ave., the site of the former Ted's Montana Grill and Oswald's Pharmacy just west of South Washington Street. Ramsey entered the Chicago restaurant market in 2021 with the opening of Gordon Ramsay Burger at 2 E. Ontario. He has 21 restaurants in the U.S. Glad you're realizing that Illinois is THE place to be Gordon!

 

 

 

 


January 8, 2023

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December 5, 2022

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