Learning to cook; kids can hone their culinary skills at Sur La Table

(Published March 31)

By Angela Gagnon – Staff Writer

Kids can get busy in the kitchen at Sur La Table and experience some hands-on cooking fun this summer and learn to make delicious classic summer eats from scratch.

Sur La Table, located at 900 North Michigan Ave., offers three- and five-day cooking classes for kids 8-12 and teens 13-17. The classes start in July, last about two hours each and are limited to 16 students.

“All of our classes are taught by classically trained culinary professionals,” said Adam Leach, resident chef at Sur La Table.

Sur La Table will offer two camps this summer. One incorporates different themes each day like backyard BBQ or pizza parties and will include about four different recipes per day. The other camp will focus on teaching different techniques, like working with pasta and pizza dough, learning knife skills or grilling or BBQ techniques.

“There will also be a bakery and pastry component this year, which will take place one day as an all encompassing experience in the five day camp,” added Leach.

Kids get to eat what they make and even compete in a friendly mystery box competition at the end of each series similar to the TV show, Chopped wherein chefs must create a meal with a box of mystery ingredients.  

“Teams get a menu together, curated through the instructor, but created by the kids. They use what skills they’ve learned the previous days to put it all together for a final menu,” said Leach.

The chef picks a mystery ingredient to be used somewhere in the menu, and kids are encouraged to use a kitchen gadget they haven’t used before. “The winning team gets a prize,” said Leach.

“I look at my job here as inspiring people to cook more at home and build confidence in the kitchen,” said Leach. “I like people to leave the class wanting to cook more!”
In addition to gaining culinary skills, kids will take home a packet of recipes and a Sur La Table apron. Register for the classes at surlatable.com.

Area businesses lend a hand to help Girls Scouts sell cookies

By Angela Gagnon, Staff Writer

Girl Scouts are busy selling their famous cookies all over downtown Chicago while partnering with local businesses that provide warm spaces where scouts can sell extra boxes through the end of March.

Troop 20461, from South Loop Elementary, recently sold cookies at Pinstripes in Streeterville on a blustery Saturday morning. Troop co-leader Angelica Prado helped set up, and fourth grade troop members Mia Prado and Katie Boone sold to Pinstripes customers.

“My favorite part of selling Girl Scout cookies is asking people to buy our cookies,” Mia said. “Even if they say no, they know who we are and they can tell more people about the cookies.”

“I like selling Girl Scout cookies because it teaches me to set a goal and try to complete that goal,” Katie added.

“The girls decide on a cookie goal and work to reach that goal,” Katie’s mom and troop co-leader Aimee Boone, said. Troop 20461 set their goal for each girl to sell 100 boxes of cookies.

At the end of cookie season, the troop can decide what to do with their share of the profits, which is about 90 cents per box.

A portion goes to a charitable donation of the troop’s choice. Troop 20461 will be donating to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls this year. They also vote on something fun to do as a troop, as a reward for all the hard work they do during cookie sales.

Girl Scouts will set up booths at select locations until the end of March. Troop 20461 will be back at Pinstripes, 435 E Illinois St., March 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

On March 2, they will be selling cookies at Sod Room, 1454 S Michigan Ave., from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Inviting them to sell at Sod Room helps shift the ownership back to the child,” Sod Room owner Cynthia Valenciana said. “That’s hard in today’s climate, and there’s so much power in that.”

For a list of cookie booth locations, dates and times, visit the Girl Scouts’ website, girlscouts.org, and use the “cookie finder” to locate nearby booths.

New Eastside News news briefs

Staff reports

Sweetwater to be open in time for St. Patrick’s Day

Sweetwater Tavern and Grill, 225 N. Michigan Ave., a popular local eatery, will be open in time for March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day, according to the restaurant’s website.

The bar and grill has been closed since Dec. 23 for extensive renovations.

“It’s exciting to be able to take what we have learned from our more than 15 restaurants over the years and apply it to one of our most successful restaurants on Michigan Avenue,” Angela Zoiss, Vice President of Marketing for Bottleneck Management, said in a press release. “Sweetwater’s renovation will breathe new life into the space and kick off our 10th anniversary as a Chicago hot spot with a fresh new look.”

Bottleneck Management has added an additional 10 years to Sweetwater’s lease, for a total of 15 years in the dynamic space in the heart of Michigan Avenue.

New Eastsiders can now shop at a brick-and-mortar Amazon store

In February Amazon opened a brick-and-mortar store Amazon Go at 111 E. Wacker.

The cashier-less store is the first Amazon store in the New Eastside, but it joins several other locations around the city.

Besides not having cashiers, the store is cashless, too, and customers pay by scanning items with their cellphones via an app. There are no lines and the store offers a variety of food and snack items.

New 311 app easier to use than phone system

In December the city launched a 311 app—a phone application allowing users to more easily report on small issues such as potholes and graffiti in their areas. The app upgraded the previous system, launched in 1999, that depended on a telephone call and paperwork.

Since the system launched, it’s garnered national attention, with Wired Magazine calling it “a huge win for public works.”

Closer to home, the system is also receiving praise. Neighborhood leader Richard Ward said in February the new system is helpful, easy to use and provides added benefits to New Eastside residents.

“The home page of the website has an overview of the program and nine broad categories of service request areas such as seniors, health and animals. ‘View-all’ presents nearly one hundred specific issue topics like graffiti, lights out and potholes,” he wrote in an email.

Ward said the New Eastside is nearly graffiti-free because of eagle-eyed residents calling the previous system. Now, residents can use the new app to report graffiti or other maintenance issues.

To find out more about the app or download, visit 311.chicago.gov.

Ad seems to indicate a new residential building is coming

A magazine advertisement by CA Ventures could indicate a new, large residential building is coming to the New Eastside.

In January, Real Estate Alert, a real estate trade magazine, ran an ad from developers CA Ventures featuring a large building at Lake and Stetson, the 40,600-square-foot lot that was supposed to be the home of the Mandarin Oriental hotel and luxury condominiums before that plan failed two years ago.

However, CA Ventures won’t say what the ad means and whether they will develop the property.

“We don’t have anything to share at this time,” said Mimi Simon, a spokesperson for CA Ventures with Taylor Johnson Public Relations.

The ad includes other existing properties developed by CA Ventures around the country.

New WTTW11 program to highlight Midwest history

Take a nostalgic family road trip throughout the Midwest when “Chicago on Vacation with Geoffrey Baer” premieres on WTTW11, Chicago’s PBS station, and online at wttw.com/vacation at 7:30 p.m. on March 5.

Inspired by his family adventures, Baer sets out in a 1973 Chevrolet Impala station wagon (the same car his family drove) to visit favorite tourist destinations and discover hidden history throughout the Midwest. Stunning archival film and home movies take viewers back to a time when road trips were routine for families looking for an affordable, drivable getaway.

Highlights of Geoffrey’s 2,000-mile road trip include:

  • Touring Lake Geneva with two teenagers that deliver mail by jumping off a moving boat
  • Meeting an all-female ice-fishing group from Wisconsin’s Northwoods
  • Discovering a renewed interest in the “Black Eden” of Idlewild, Mich., a popular spot for African Americans when segregation during the Jim Crow era limited vacation options
  • Visiting the once-booming Jewish resorts in South Haven, Mich., previously called the “Catskills of the Midwest”

Local news drives newspaper readership, study finds

A large study by Medill’s Local News Initiative discovered in February that local news still matters to readers and it may save newspapers.

The study analyzed subscriber data from three metropolitan news websites in an attempt to see what content most attracted readers. The intention is to provide newspapers with a guide to improving community service and to shore up financial sustainability as the media landscape changes.

The study showed that rather than viral stories, readers want quality local content.

“This research illustrates a sea change in the relationship between local news organizations and their readers,” Tim Franklin said in a news release.

Franklin, a senior associate dean at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, heads the Medill Local News Initiative, a project that includes this study and other research to help local journalism overcome the industry’s loss of readers and revenue. Medill partnered with three news organizations — the Chicago Tribune, The Indianapolis Star and the San Francisco Chronicle — that provided 13 terabytes of anonymous reader data for the study.

The Coast upgrades amenities room in latest improvements

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Since summer 2017, when Morguard took over management of the Coast apartments in Lakeshore East, the management company has been improving the property one project at a time.

In January, management announced an improved amenities space: the commons area for residents at the 345 E. Upper Wacker Drive property.

“Loren Stanton was the designer, and he did a fantastic job on that,” said Laura Collins, community manager for Coast at Lakeshore East. “We made it very user friendly. There are ports everywhere for people to work on laptops there. We have new TVs and a new shuffleboard, and we got a coffee service there.”

The apartments house more than 700 residents when at capacity. Collins explained that as residents turn over, Morguard is overhauling the apartments as well.

“Last year we did about 20 unit renovations,” she said. “And then this year we’re slated to do 75.”

Those improvements include new tile, backsplashes, paint, roller shades and cabinets. The company has already upgraded the residency’s entryway and soon, Collins said, they will upgrade the gym and the pool area as part of the ongoing project.

The building got three new grill stations in August, and plans for all new pool furniture are in the works, she said.

Residents made good use of the new grills.

“They saw use all the way through early December,” Collins said. “We had people running out there to grill steak and running back.”

To find out more about Coast at Lakeshore East, visit rentcoast.com.

Snow superstars clear the way at the Aon Center

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

It’s a big building, in a big city, so it’s no surprise that when winter comes, it’s a big job keeping the Aon Center’s perimeter free of snow and ice.

How do they do it? With people and preparation.

Every winter, the Aon Center employs Harvard Maintenance to keep the property dry and safe during even the worst weather. It starts with a plan. Each shift leader decides who and what is needed for the job, depending on the weather.

“Lakeside buildings generally receive more snow than properties inland, so we communicate forecasts and keep our response dynamic in case additional resources or manpower are needed if a storm worsens beyond what was estimated,” said Harvard Maintenance senior director Karen Camerano.

Project manager Kate Krolicki said security at the Aon Center reaches out when the snow begins to fall downtown and a crew is assembled to salt, scoop and dry off the paths using a squeegee.

It’s no easy feat to keep feet dry, and it takes a toll on even the most experienced workers. “Our employees have to be in the cold for long periods of time, so we educate them on frostbite, exhaustion and other potential health concerns,” Camerano said.

Pro-tips:

For those who like a walkway as immaculate as the Aon Center’s—but can’t afford employees to do it for them—Camerano emphasizes readiness. She recommends putting down salt immediately and shoveling before the end of a snowfall. “We aim to never let the snow accumulate to a level where shoveling or lifting the snow becomes too arduous,” Camerano said.  

The top Chicago openings for 2019

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The New Year will bring new developments to the city. Here are the top new developments residents can look forward to this year.

Hotels

1.     Actor and New York developer Robert DeNiro is coming to Chicago. DeNiro’s development team is opening the Nobu Hotel in December 2019 along Restaurant Row. In addition to luxury hotel rooms, the property will boast a street level Japanese restaurant and a rooftop lounge.

2.     The Hotel Essex has been working on its Michigan Avenue property for a while now, and it’s expected to open in May of 2019. Located at 800 S. Michigan Ave., across from Grant Park, the hotel will be in the heart of the city and offer 254 rooms.

4.     The Hilton brand will open another Homewood Suites in downtown Chicago in May. This one will be across from Grant Park at 1101 S. Wabash Ave., within easy walking distance to the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.

Restaurants

1.     Some of the top names in Korean food are coming to the city. Dave Park and Jennifer Tran operated Hanbun in Westmont until early 2018, and now they’re looking to open Jeong at 1460 W. Chicago Ave. Park offers a modern take on Korean food in a fine-dining space, and Jeong will hold about 40 people.

2. James Beard Award-winning chef Zach Engel’s Israeli restaurant Galit is nothing if not ambitious. Engel will serve up the usual pita and hummus, but he will also feature Midwestern produce to combine the familiar with the foreign against a formal dining background. Galit will open in Lincoln Park at 2429 N. Lincoln Ave.

Residencies

1.   New for the New Eastside, the Vista Tower project is expected to wrap up this year. At 1,191 feet, the tower has 101 floors and at floor 47, there is an outdoor pool, a reservable kitchen and a wine-tasting room.

2.    Nema, at 1200 S. Indiana Ave., will be completed this year. The building will offer 76 floors and 800 units and stands 887 feet tall and the luxury apartments are sure to make a mark on the South Loop.

3.    In Streeterville, the One Bennett Park building at 514 N Peshtigo Court is already open, but on the top floors of the luxury apartments, the work continues. However, the 70-story building will be completed in 2019 after the final condominiums are finished.

New vet clinic opens next door to Mariano’s

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

There’s a new doctor in the neighborhood for the furry and feathered members of the family. On Nov. 12, East Side Veterinary Clinic opened in the Village Market in New Eastside at 333 E. Benton Place, Suite 205.

The clinic is on the second floor, situated between Mariano’s and D&A Dermatology. It is an offshoot of South Loop Veterinary Hospital. East Side Vet is closed Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, but they are open the rest of the week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. They offer several veterinary services including wellness checks and vaccinations.

Office Manager Dennis Kalup explained it took some time for South Loop Veterinary Hospital to find the perfect place for a new location, but is confident  it has found one in New Eastside.

Kalup explained he was familiar with the area due to a few current clients living in the area. “[We] could see that it was a vibrant community that loved their pets, and there would be a need for a clinic in that area,” Kalup said. Kalup and the rest of the staff at East Side Vet look forward to meeting their new clientele and becoming a fixture in the neighborhood.

For more information, visit myeastsidevet.com, where appointments can be requested virtually. The office can also be reached at (312) 753-5551.

 

Open for business: Downtown Chicago hotels booming

The Hotel Julian includes a new eatery, About Last Knife. Courtesy photo.

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

 

Downtown Chicago is booming for hotels. In the last month, the Hotel Julian opened in the New Eastside while in the Streeterville area, Aloft opened a new hotel and the Red Roof Inn opened the St. Clair Hotel.

These properties offer hundreds of new rooms for city visitors, along with luxury and easy access to all the downtown amenities.

The Hotel Julian, which opened Oct. 1 at 168 N. Michigan Ave., the corner of Michigan and Randolph, features 218 rooms, with millennium kings and double rooms.

“St. Julian is the patron saint of hospitality, so that is where the name comes from,” said George Jordan, Executive VP with Oxford Hotels and Resorts, the owners and operators of Hotel Julian.

The name of the hotel’s restaurant, About Last Knife, offers an all-day menu.

“You can get an omelet in the morning or at night, or beef Wellington by the slice in the morning or at night,” Jordan said. The hotel pays tribute to the building’s original proprietors Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox of the eponymous Marshall and Fox architectural firm, with Marshall’s image on the restaurant’s wall.

In Streeterville, Aloft Chicago Mag Mile opened Oct. 1, at 243 E. Ontario St.

Aloft is a Marriott Hotel brand, and Tishman is the developer, owner and manager. There are 337 guest rooms and a restaurant, according to their website. The hotel takes inspiration from the site’s former occupant, the Chicago Contemporary Museum of Art.

Additionally, the Red Roof Inn opened the St. Clair Hotel on Oct. 1, at 162 E. Ontario, as a part of their upscale Red Collection hotels.

 

For more information about the Hotel Julian, call 312-346-1200 or visit www.hoteljulianchicago.com/

 

For more information about Aloft Chicago Mag Mile, call 312-429-6600 or visit

www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/chiaa-aloft-chicago-mag-mile/

 

For more information about the St. Clair Hotel, call 312-787-3580 or visit www.redroof.com/property/il/chicago/RRI281

Moreno offers scissor services a cut above

By Jesse Wright |

Staff Writer

 

Bertha Moreno knows hair.

For over 30 years, she’s been cutting, coloring and combing hair on heads from around the world and while she is not the most talkative hair stylist in Chicago, she might be one of the most talked about.

For 18 years her salon was based in on the ninth floor in Tribune Tower. Over the summer, tenants of the tower were kicked out—including the Tribune employees—and Moreno has relocated to 230 Ohio Street. Yet at her new second-floor digs, Moreno is still snipping away, Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. into the evening, same as ever.

Over the years, she has cut the hair on the heads that influenced Chicago. In 2007, while John Edwards was on his doomed presidential bid, ensnared by a hair care scandal after he paid $1,250 haircut, the Tribune name-checked Moreno in an editorial.

“The next time you’re in town, Mr. Edwards, stop by Tribune Tower,” the editors wrote. “Bertha Moreno runs a little salon on the ninth floor. She’ll give you a haircut for $15. If you want to leave a $1,250 tip, that’s your business. … She does a great job and she won’t talk about your hair when you’re gone.”

It’s true, she won’t talk about her customers. She has clients including WGN, CNN and NBC talent, but she won’t name names.

“I don’t like to talk about who I know,” Moreno said. “I just like to do the hair.”

Moreno said she’s proud to be able to do anyone’s hair—male or female, a formal or informal style. She said she just loves the work.

“One thing about me, I treat everybody the same,” she said. “I don’t care if it’s the person who cleans the floor or the person in charge. I treat everyone the same way.”

The same way includes plenty of silent treatment. While some stylists will chat up their clientele, Moreno said she’s not much of a talker when on the job. She’ll ask her client what they want and how they think the cut looks, but otherwise, Moreno doesn’t make a lot of small talk.

“I have to concentrate on what I’m doing,” she said. “The customer has to look good, because otherwise I look bad.”

This is also why she asks that people book appointments ahead of time.

“When someone is waiting for me, I get nervous,” she said.

Whatever it is she’s doing, she is doing it right. She has repeat business that has lasted decades and even her fans at the Tribune have been walked 20 minutes from the Tribune’s new offices on the New East Side, back to Moreno’s studio.

One of her longtime clients and friends, Yolanda Ayubi, said she visits Moreno twicie a week and she will not go anywhere else.

“I find it interesting that when she is doing my hairstyle, I feel like she is an artist. I can see her enjoying the process of doing my hair. It’s an art and science at the same time,” Ayubi said. “She keeps asking me how I like it … and she doesn’t let me go until I am satisfied.

“Let me put it this way, her clients aren’t a number. Her clients are people whom she helps with an image.”

Ayubi is far from alone in her praise. Out of 31 Yelp reviews, 29 are five star.

Moreno calls her clients her family and indeed, she gets Christmas cards from some and she has a bulletin board filled with some of the heads she’s had the pleasure to know. Some faces, children in the photos, now have kids of their own and still stop by Moreno’s shop.

Moreno said she’s grateful she’s got so many loyal customers.

“I am lucky to have them, because they are the ones who support me here,” Moreno said. “Because after only three months (in the new location), they’re coming back.”

To book an appointment, call 312-259-4150.

Chicago Innovation Awards recognize Midwest creativity

By Jesse Wright |

Staff Writer

 

Midwestern ingenuity will be honored at the annual Chicago Innovation Awards on Oct. 29 at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St.

This year’s awards show will feature a keynote talk imagining Chicago’s place in the future of tech led by Chris Gladwin and Penny Pritzker. The presentation will outline a plan to transform Chicago into one of the world’s tech hubs.

Executive Director Luke Tanen said the awards show was born out of a desire to show Chicago as a competitive hub of innovation by co-founders Tom Kuczmarski and business journalist Dan Miller.

“They were finally tired of Silicon Valley getting all the credit for innovation and they wanted to do something to shine a light on Chicago,” Tanen said. “They wanted to make sure that when people think about innovation that it does not just mean high tech and it does not just mean start-ups.”

Tanen said the awards recognize “high tech, low tech and no tech.” There are plenty of submissions to consider. He said 519 innovators were nominated for 25 awards this year. Despite the array of ideas and innovations, Tanen said there are some common traits.

“There are certain trends that we see in Chicago that might be unique to Chicago,” he said. “For instance, we see more B2B (business to business) innovations rather than B2C (business to consumer) innovations.”

Long term sustainability sets Chicago innovators apart, Tanen said. Unlike some tech startups, Chicago innovators seek to solve real, existing problems.

Tanen explained that Chicago Innovation judges look hard at business models and measurable, quantifiable outcomes, so there isn’t a lot of guesswork when it comes to which companies will be successful. “The winners rely on strong business models,” Tanen said. “There are not a lot of companies that are trying to get a whole bunch of users and then trying to monetize later.”

The winners won’t be announced until the awards event, but Tanen said food development is hot right now. “There was a higher than average amount of innovations in the food industry,” he said.

A regular source of innovation is healthcare and Tanen said education is another popular field for innovators in the Chicago area. He explained this is because innovators tend to look for problems to fix. “If those challenges exist, then you’re going to see people who want to address them,” Tanen said.

Tickets can be found at the event website, chicagoinnovation.com.

 

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