Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mario Tricoci and vitaminwater® Present: The 2011 InspireDesign Show

Wednesday, October 19, 2011:
Fashion Focus Chicago was off to a successful start with the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) Show - but, it was time for a bit of competition.  Enter:  the InspireDesign Show presented by Mario Tricoci and vitaminwater® - also known as the Mario, Make Me a Model show.  This runway event blends a bit of healthy competition and fashion into one all-out fashion fete.  Five model finalists compete for a chance to win a contract with a top Chicago fashion agency, while talented designers showcase their collections for us to drool over.  Sounds good to me.
The five model hopefuls:
The models competing for the contract walked in the show as their final challenge - right alongside the pros.  Competing for the win were (see above - L to R):  Juni Park, Lynn Tatge, Zachary Ross Alexandra Cangelosi and Mercedes Johnson - each hoping to be chosen as "Mario's Models."  Showcased on the runway, were five stellar collections - and I have to say:  from front row ... they all looked quite amazing.  (So what?  I'm bragging.)  Check 'em out:

Inspired by what they considered a lack of accessible clothing both well designed and versatile enough to accommodate their wardrobe desires, Telo Dunne and Olivia Shanks launched Imaginary people in the fall of 2009.  Their aim with Imaginary People is to make highly functional, versatile and elegant pieces that are as lovely to wear as they are to look at.  They believe that wardrobe basics can be fashion forward.  The line is built around a core collection of creatively reinvented wardrobe staples made of slinky jersey knits and comfy cotton blends that are carried cover and added to each season.  The label’s individual pieces stand strong on their own, pair cleverly with one another and complement the basics that most women already own.
Michelle Tan was interested in fashion design at an early age. She took her first sewing class when she was in fourth grade. After one sewing lesson, she designed her first outfit by using newspaper as pattern papers. After graduating with a bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design from International Academy of Technology and Designs in 1999, she took six months off to travel to Asia searching for fabrics and yarns for her first collection.

Michelle Tan launched her line under her name in Fall 2000. Tan’s devotion to deconstruction and details has made her Chicago’s fastest growing designer. In 2000 she won the Style Maker and Rule Breaker Award by Fashion Group International, and in 2001 she won the Marshal Field’s Distinction Award and sold her line to Marshall Field’s. Michelle Tan sells to over 60 stores across the US, Canada, and Japan. In June 2006 she opened her first flagship boutique in Wicker Park, and in 2010 opened her second boutique in Downtown Block 37.
Founded in 2009 by husband and wife team of Cheikh Lam and Sophie Lin. Lin, with a BFA from The School Of The Art Institute of Chicago was working in womenswear when she teamed up with her husband, Cheikh to create looks that are inspired by his longtime appreciation of European streetwear.  J.Cheikh creates clothes that the contemporary gentleman would enjoy wearing on a daily basis. By updating classic pieces with surprising fabrication and color choices, J.Cheikh stands by the idea that men should have it all. There is no such thing as sacrificing style for comfort. J.Cheikh embodies both qualities, making the line unpretentiously luxurious.

Based in Chicago, the brand focuses on modernizing the fundamentals of classic menswear. The J.Cheikh team has always thought it important to support the local fashion and manufacturing community so the line is not only designed in Chicago, the materials are also sourced in the city and the manufacturing is also produced locally. J.Cheikh draws inspiration from the unique mix of European silhouettes with American ease. Each season fabric and color combinations are unexpected and sleek.
Created September 2000, Narcisse Designs, a couture fashion company, each artistic piece is handcrafted in order to make our customers feel glamorous and unique. Narcisse customers are fashion forward individuals who want to create a matchless impression. Our pieces are not products but investments, like art. If you buy a dress from Narcisse, you can wear it for years since each piece is custom made staying true to the "art" of couture not the trends of this years fashions. We create haute couture that is classically sensual and uninhibited and that is how we want our clients to feel.

Razor sharp silhouettes, slinky dramatic gowns with unique embellishments and defining details, shape Narcisse’s Latest Collection. Luxurious fabrics, feathers and unique cuts make up the designs that have a reputation for being desirable with an edge. The latest Collection is being completed. Collection includes 14 new couture designs and our new luxury jewelry line debut.
Tatyana was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and in 1992, her family immigrated to America. She always loved the arts, movies, and fashion, but kept it to her, it was not a career option in the family. It was all inside though, brewing. Sewing was in her blood and her mother was a seamstress in Ukraine and worked in the factory, nothing glamorous. In 2003 Tatyana moved to Chicago, and met an artist that suggested to take up sewing and creating.

That is exactly what she did and started to nurture what she knew was her gift. In October 2009 she was the Fresh Face of Gen Art Chicago and after, she committed to herself to her fashion career full time. In August 2010, she moved to New York, to pursue her career further. 

The collection is inspired by the timeless movie classic Casablanca meets reddoll. There is a balance between the styles and periods of time that Tatyana loves! The hand work that is involved in the process with the combination of high quality fabric makes this collection romantic and sophisticated.

After each of the fifty looks walked the runway, it was time for Mr. Mario Tricoci to announce the winner.  Little did the audience know, Mario had a different plan in mind:  two winners.  (That tricky hair-loving man.)  You could see the models' holding their breath as he talked and I can only imagine what they were saying in their heads as he continued to do so.
Mario Tricoci congratulates all of the contestants:
Soon enough - it was time to announce the winner...s.  After a pause, Mr. Tricoci called Juni Park and Mercedes Johnson as the two that would share the title.
The winners:  Juni Park and Mercedes Johnson:
(Is it bad that I wanted them to fight for the trophy?  Ok, ok - I'll behave.)
The girls took an excited final walk down the runway - each clutching part of the trophy - and Mario kindly congratulated the other models.  It was a gorgeous show to watch - and I would be upset with myself if I didn't mention the amazing producers:  Jennifer Wisniewski and Lisa Marie McComb - who produced a beautifully flawless runway show. (Such pros!) Congratulations to all the models - especially the 2011 winners, Juni and Mercedes!

Truly another fantastic Fashion Focus Chicago event and great exposure for our Windy City - which proved true to its' name as we were rushed out into the night, where the fifty mile per hour winds awaited us.

Clearly Chicago doesn't care that my hair is always part of the outfit.


Mr. Tricoci watches as the models walk the runway:

Macy's Presents: The Designers of the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) 2011 Runway Show

Tuesday, October 18, 2011:
The time has come for another round of coverage for Fashion Focus Chicago!  Some of you may be wondering what took me so long to get posting after the shows - and I'll tell you:  I think I have literally just woken up after a week of events.  I was able to make it to ten events last week - yes, ten - and I have found some time to post about the two tent shows that I was able to attend in Millennium Park.   So - let's get to it...

One of my very favorite shows each year is "The Designers of the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) Runway Show presented by Macy's."  This year was no different, with a stellar showing from the past DIR (Designers in Residence) - many of whom I have had the opportunity to work with professionally at Agency Galatea - and the current 2011 DIR.  We saw the work of a whopping fifteen designers walk the runway, dominated by womenswear with a total of twelve collections and three menswear collections.  The Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) is one of my favorite organizations in Chicago, as it helps to "bridge the gap between design school and entrepreneurship" by offering designers the "workspace and tools to establish and grow their companies."  (Not to mention - a ton of good buzz to help expose their work to a market beyond Chicago.)

I arrived a bit later than expected (thank you, Rachel Yeomans for the text!) and got settled in my press seat with my bud, Kate Jacobsen.  (Another shout-out to Kamal Bosamia (Media Relations Manager, Macy's) and the amazing Lara Miller (Executive Director, CFI) for their wonderful accommodations!)  Before we could scope out the printed list of looks - the show had begun.  What followed was a colorful mix of fabrics, patterns and cuts that spoke to many different customers.  I was especially pleased to see a great line of plus sized designs - along with some of my old favorites - who will remain unnamed ... I blog fair, people.  (But, you know who you are!)

In case you weren't able to attend - I would like to bring you back to that day with me by posting some looks below and a bit of info about each designer.  Ready for the show? 

Lights slowly fade to black.

Music starts.

Lights blast on.

The first model hits the runway and works...

Influenced by her vibrant African heritage fused with Western design sensibilities, Modahnik exudes an underlying sexiness via signature African textiles and is produced in Africa using fair trade practices:
Crystal B. Designs fuses architectural form with the female silhouette to positively enhance the features of the female figure:
Timeless, classic designs are updated with special details that add a twist of originality, essential to making the Shavonne Dorsey customer feel special:
Concetta (designer) strives to balance femininity with structure, strength with beauty, and intricacy with simplicity - the same elements that embody the women she designs for:
A modern perspective to classic menswear with a commitment to quality and U.S. manufacturing, Eric’s line focuses on sharply tailored suits and separates that easily transition from office to evening:
Gidi blends vintage sophistication with modern flair, giving everyone that wears her garments a subtle allure that makes them unforgettable:
C/FAN is a marriage of menswear inspired details, such as pocket squares, and feminine silhouettes, which creates a line that is extremely versatile, high quality and still affordable:
Killian Gui is a contemporary Menswear brand that masters the blend of elegant business attire with modern casual wear:
Nonnie is a result of early-mid 1900's inspiration, merged with a modern semblance.  The designs are inspired by men's desire for functionality, fit, and ambition for modernity:
 Miriam manipulates fabric to create more "sculpted than stitched" garments.  The collection ranges from cocktail separates to couture hand-sewn gowns referred to as "soaring, abstract, iridescent and darkly beautiful":
A line of vintage-inspired lingerie and foundation wear - sophisticated underthings that shape the body naturally into a more flattering silhouette:

Inspired by the Chicago underground music/art scene and influenced by modern trends, the young contemporary line is unique, edgy and comfortable:

Strong, hard working, multitasking women are a constant source of inspiration for Ryba.  She strives to develop pieces that are not only artistically inspiring but that also make sense in a modern women's wardrobe:

The growing cultural environment of Chicago helps Agga implement her artistic visions of fusing fashion and art into one creative entity:
The line has two distinct personalities; one is punky and playful, while the other is sleek and classy. Evil Kitty's target audience is strong, independent women who like to stand out in the crowd. Bright colors and playful designs dominate the Evil Kitty landscape:
Finale walk.

Clapping, clapping, clapping. 

Lights slowly fade out.

So - what did you think of the show?  I certainly hope you enjoyed it and that you will take a moment to check out the websites of these talented designers.  These are the people that are working hard every day to make a name for themselves - and a name for Chicago fashion.  I thank you for joining me at the CFI Show (what? ... you just saw the show - tell all your friends) and I hope to see you very soon.

We may even sit front row.



Friday, September 16, 2011

A Very Merry "Fashion's Night Out"

Thursday, September 8, 2011:
It can be said that anything Anna Wintour creates/endorses/promotes turns into fashion gold.  Well - I said it ... not sure if you agree - but seriously?  That women is a powerful fashion genius.  Moving on..

In New York - 2009 - Ms. Wintour (be polite - or she'll eat you) - started "Fashion's Night Out", "as a means to encourage consumers to shop and support the fashion industry during the tough economic climate." (wikifashion)  Now, just two years later, FNO is celebrated in over 250 cities (and in NYC alone, over 1000 retailers continue the new tradition.)  
This year - Chicago was no exception - with events popping up all over town to celebrate our love of fashion.  Michigan Avenue was buzzing with stylish fetes this year - as was Oak Street and so many other retailers across the city.  (In fact, the new TOPSHOP|TOPMAN opened to the public on September 8th - which Chicago clearly has a huge crush on already.)

I was honored to be able to attend The 900 Shops FNO event called "Fame, Fashion & Flavor: 900's Night Out" - which was hosted by ... waaaaaait for it:  THE Brad Goreski. *swoons - passes out - hits head - dreams of Brad - wakes up again to continue writing this post* ... Where was I?  Oh yes ... the event was also sponsored by my buds at CS Magazine, the wonderful women at Julie Watson Style, Gilt City, Fig Media (shout out to my favorite fashion DJ - Megan Taylor!), Event Creative, eDrop-Off (who had an amazing photo booth), Agency Galatea (so proud of my girls and guys!) and many other fantastic local businesses that gave their time, energy and services to make this outstanding event come to life.  
The result?  An absolute fashion success - and in my opinion - one of the best parties on the Avenue.  (Biased?  Maybe - but I don't lie - so that makes me right.)
(L) Brad & Paige Ann Peterson ... (M) Kelli Zink & Brad ... (R) Candace Jordan & Brad
Agency Galatea Guys and Girls with Brad Goreski:
 (L) Briana, Brad & Katie ... (M) Saba & Nick ... (R) Brad and Josh:
 (L to R - Back Row) Josh, Nick, Mike & Thomas
(Front Row) Julie Watson & Annie Barlow
Once my models had walked the runway and the event was settling down - I joined a group of friends to head over to support one of my favorite Chicago shops - Sofia Vintage on Oak Street.  We walked over (everyone looking dashing - like it was Fashion Christmas) to check out who was "Living Lovely" at 72 East Oak.  We arrived and were greeted by many familiar faces.  I ran into one of my favorite Chicago fashion photographers, Bryan Whitely - and then was thrilled to see the lovely Ciara Newby.  We went outside to get some air (Sofia was hoppin!) and ran into Mr. Ian Doran - who had just come from work at Jack Spade (lucky.)  The crowd outside was fantastic - such a mix of styles and conversations and handshakes.

As I departed for home, I decided to leave my headphones in my pocket and take it all in.  I strolled up Oak Street and then continued South on Rush.  Everywhere I looked, there were glimpses of fashion - like an entire city had taken an extra few minutes to put on something
special this evening. The city was buzzing with an energy that was quite different than any other day when I have walked these streets. I smiled as I strolled, a bit slower than normal - hands in my pockets, grinning like a child on Christmas morning.

Only - this was different - this was Fashion Christmas...

...and this perfectly stylish night was my gift.

Happy "Fashion's Night Out", Chicago.



P.s.  To check out my FNO interview with Chicago 3 Media, click HERE.   (:
Merry Fashion Christmas to ME.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Night in Paris, to Welcome London: The TOPSHOP|TOPMAN Private Dinner

Wednesday, September 7, 2011:
After attending the fantastic TOPSHOP|TOPMAN private shopping event - it was soon time to head over to Paris Club for the private dinner, hosted by Sir Philip Green.  (What a private day I was having.)  I was only allowed to arrive solo, so I threw the bowtie back on in the office and began my way over to the event.

Once I arrived - I was checked in and given a small card with a number on it ... a table number.  I memorized the number '11' and did what any solo party-goer would do - I located the bar.  A handsome bartender walked over and I asked him what the deal was tonight.  His response? ... "It's open bar, sir." ... "Oh?", I thought - "It's that kind of a party?"  I order a whiskey/coke and before the I'm-alone-and-it's-awkward set in, Emma Arnold of Tres Awesome (one of my favorite fashion blogs) nudged me on the shoulder.  She was a welcomed sight - with her cool, calm demeanor and leather jacket-over a t-shirt-over a dress hotness.  It was about to begin...

Before I could could make that slurping sound with my straw (more whiskey, please) - we had a full-on party going.  I saw Samantha Saifer (CS Magazine) across the room - looking amazing (those pants?! - love.) ... James Goeke and I spotted each other, both raised a 'hello hand' and he came by to gossip (P.s. LOVE him, James!) ... not far behind him, his wifey Jessica Zweig (Cheeky Chicago) came over for a smooch/hug combo ... I finally met the handsome Mr. Anderson Bell (FanFueled Tickets) and ordered him another Stella, as he told us about how he keeps his girlish figure ... my obsessions walked in shortly after - Christina Fan (C/FAN) and Ms. April Francis (AF - Refinery29 Contributor - Total Fox) - #CallMeYouTwo ...  Getting the point?  The room was packed with Chicago's most stylish and elite - and there I was ... somehow invited to be in the middle of it all.
Christina Fan & Bridget White:
The original time for dinner (8p) had come and passed (though, most of us didn't notice - see: open bar.)  As it approached 8:30p. I heard someone say "Well - Miley's not here yet."  I'm sorry - what?!  At this point, my stomach is Not. Happy. with said Miley Cyrus, who is holding us back from quite a delicious, fancy dinner.  So ... we wait.  Around 9p. it is time and I begin the search for No. 11.  

Arriving at my table, I was delighted to be sitting with some of my favorite Chicagoans.  I just about squealed when Molly Each (Michigan Avenue Magazine) scooted in to my right - love that women.  To my left - Ms. Bridget White (eDrop-Off) sat down (looking as beautiful as ever) ... minutes later, we'd be swapping childhood stories and literally holding back tears - xo, B-dub!  Across from me sat a stellar lineup of Chicago's finest men:  Matt Lee (Editor-in-Chief of The Men's Book) - which, to me, is liking sitting across from Oprah ... Jason Berngard (Market Lead, Gilt City), whom is marrying my girlfriend, Sam Saifer (don't tell him) ... and Michael Corrigan (Zapwater Communications) - THE man of the hour (as far as I'm concerned), who had a hand in planning the entire night.  Excellent work, Michael!

After everyone was settled, watered and wined - it was time to hear from Sir Philip Green - the man behind TOPSHOP|TOPMAN.  He stood and spoke kindly - telling us how thrilled he was to be in Chicago and how much he was looking forward to growing his business here.  After a few words - we raised our glasses and had a cheers to TOPSHOP|TOPMAN ... and rightfully so.
So - there we were - drinking fantastic wine, eating shrimp the size of my hand and having conversations that I wanted to last all night.  I could have thought of no better way to end the summer - surrounded by amazing, hardworking (and really good-looking) people - sipping wine - laughing and eating absolutely delicious food.  I didn't think it could get any better - until dinner was over.
Full and ready to burn those calories - the crew headed upstairs to the roof - aka: Studio Paris (which I had never been) - for another round of open bar (Sir Philip - I love you) and some stellar DJ sets.  There, I shook it up with Monica Dimperio (The MidWasteland), Kevin Aeh (Time Out Chicago), the handsome Ian Doran (Jack Spade) - and of course, Miley (who - by this time - had stolen someone's suspenders and thought it would be like, so funny to wear them with her outfit.)
LOOK at me, Miley!
Here was what I remember of our conversation:

Ryan:  "Hi.  I'm Ryan."

Miley:  (in that weird voice of hers)  "Hiii.  I'm Miii-lay"  (What?  She has an accent.)

They shake hands.  They dance for approximately 48 seconds.  They part ways.

Shorty after this experience, I was back to my girl Bridget, shakin' it like it was Saturday.  Until I realized ... it was Wednesday ... and 2a.m. ... and definitely time to go...
Kevin Aeh & Monica Dimperio:

As the cab drove through the streets of Chicago - wind whipping through the window - I thought about the truly amazing evening TOPSHOP|TOPMAN had created for us that night.  Never before had I been to an event like it ... and it took a shop from across the pond to give me that experience.  

As the cab driver reached my place, I had only one thought on my mind:  When is the next TOPSHOP|TOPMAN opening?!

(I just hope I make the list.)


Myself, Christina Fan & Bridget White:
Monica Dimperio ends the night with some #SASS:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chicago (with an English accent): TOPSHOP|TOPMAN Arrives on Michigan Avenue

 Wednesday, September 7, 2011:
Hello, my friends ... it has certainly been too long - and I've missed you dearly.  Between hustling at the agency, freelance work and a move - I have been a bit distracted from the world of the bowtie.  I can't promise it wont happen again - but I can tell you I will always be back!

Speaking of being back ... I have good reason to be.

Have you heard a small whisper or tiny chatter about this little shop that opened up on Michigan Avenue?  Have you?

Ok - who am I kidding? ... Ladies and gentlemen - TOPSHOP|TOPMAN IS HERE ... and boy do they know how to make a stylish scene.

I recently received an invitation in the mail to attend the TOPSHOP|TOPMAN private shopping event and was definitely intrigued.  I was thrilled at the chance to check out the goods before anyone else - and since I have been a hermit lately, I couldn't think of a better excuse to shed the shell.

I arrived around lunch with my Agency Galatea boss, Marie P. Anderson - and quickly got to work checking out the merch.  We started on the ground floor and combed through the women's garments.  I loved the colors and textures - great styles and cuts - and decent price points.  (Marie was gawking over a very Gaga-esque t-shirt with a faded cross printed on it and cut-out shoulders.)  
After a few minutes - I began whining about wanting to see the TOPMAN floor and we caught the escalator up to Floor 1 for what was the beginning of many fashion heart attacks.  I loved the massive visual display in the men's section and the low ceiling kind of made it feel a bit more chic - like a secret (though, real fancy) basement shop.  The visuals are almost too much to take - but I'm okay with a little over-stimulation during shopping.
I can't speak on fit, as I did not yet try on the clothes - but I loved the looks that I saw.  Great basic wovens (with interesting added touches) - drop-crotch jeans and slacks that slim near the ankle - and THE suit.  Yes - THE suit.  I had a total moment when I saw it and I think I scared Marie out of her shoes from the squeal that came out of my mouth.  (Fashion heart attack alert.)  I wanted to strip this maroon creation right off the mannequin - AND the bowtie.  I'll say no more - have a look below.  (I died.)
After a few photo opp's, courtesy of Tyler Curtis (and Matthew Reeves of - we made it down to Level -1.  First of all - "Level -1?"  It's kind of unnecessary to call it that (and I kind, sort of, totally love it and want to use it in daily language to describe where I am at, should I be in a basement.)  Level -1 houses walls of shoes, accessories, more garments (women's, if I remember correctly) and more gorgeous people that work at this delicious store.
After browsing every level of TOPSHOP|TOPMAN, I can safely say that I am in love.  Not only is the store visually beautiful - but it adds some much needed fashion street cred to Michigan Avenue (along with the sexy new AllSaints store.)  The prices are affordable and the styles are more edgy and London-ey than your average H&M.  (Did I just say London-ey?)  Chicago has been buzzing with word of this new shop and TOPSHOP|TOPMAN has done a very good job at creating such buzz.  If you haven't had a chance to check out the store - you must.  I guarantee you'll walk out with something you love - and if you're not careful, you may even catch an English accent.



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Catching Up With The Bowtie...

Sunday, May 15, 2011:
Hello, my friends!  My sincerest apologies for being gone for so long - things have been quite busy in the land of bowties.  I wanted to take a moment to catch you up on my life these past couple months and get us all back on track.  As you may know, I am a freelance publicist (in addition to my work at Agency Galatea) and I had the honor of promoting the Chicago Red Dress Party as the official publicist.  This great cause (and exciting event) went off without a hitch on April 16, 2011.  So many friends and supporters came out to 525 W. Monroe to enjoy a night of red dresses, drinks and dance floor shenanigans.  Was a blast!  
While I was away from the blog, I also got a chance to check out the Zamrie fashion show, featuring the design work of my new friend, Ashley Zygmunt.  I had the chance to sit with Ashley for one of our Speaking of Fashion podcasts (along with fellow podcasters, Rachel Yeomans and Kari Skaflen) to learn more about her process and design aesthetic.  We quickly learned that Ashley is an absolute power-house, handling every step of the design process herself (with some help from her very supportive Mom.)  If you have a chance, catch a listen of our podcast, featuring Ashley of Zamrie, called "Guest Spotlight:  ZAMRIE"...
Looks from the Zamrie show:
Another highlight that I wanted to mention was a fashion exhibition put together by my good friend Miriam Cecilia Carlson, featuring her very own line, Miriam Cecilia.  My beautiful Agency Galatea runway women were featured in her show and the event was an absolute success.  Miriam showed looks from her newest collection that were absolutely stunning (loved the addition of fur accents.)  Always so inspiring to see Chicago designers paving the way for Chicago fashion...
Miriam Cecilia looks on Agency Galatea girls:
(L): Drew Dallas Deardorff, Ryan M. Beshel, Miriam Cecilia Carlson, 
Kimmy Wilson, Marco Foster & Tracey  Tarantino DiBuono
(R):  Kate Jacobsen (my amazing assistant) and Ryan M. Beshel
To continue on the catch-up, I wanted to share another exciting event that I had the honor of hosting (with so many other fine Chicagoans) for ART CHICAGO.  Just before I left for my cruise to Mexico (followed by an amazing weekend in West Hollywood), I helped to promote the after-party which took place on the rooftop on the EnV Luxury Apartments (followed by an after-after-party at Lumen.)  Factio Magazine sponsored and my good friends Melissa Maynard and Henrique Kerch organized the classy affair.  It was a perfect spring evening to enjoy drinks, music and good friends on a gorgeous rooftop, overlooking the stunning Chicago skyline.  (Not to mention, a rowdy night at Lumen - thank you, Corzo Tequila!)...
After an inspiring week on a cruise ship, followed by the perfect weekend in West Hollywood, it was time to come back to reality.  I was lucky enough to hit the ground running in Chicago and attend two fantastic restaurant openings upon my arrival.  The first was for Cantina no.46, where I reunited with my friends for some delicious food and killer tequila (to bring me back to Mexico for the night!)  The weather was perfect and the patio was packed with some of Chicago's finest.  With a margarita in hand, I was missing the trip I had just come from, but happy to be back in my city...
After a few drinks at Cantina, I hopped a cab over to the opening of Porkchop.  Like the name suggests, this new spot offers a tempting array of delicious meats, seasoned and smoked in more ways than you can count.  My friend Dion Antic is the restaurant impresario behind this new opening and I was thrilled to be able to celebrate this momentous evening with him and our friends.  The interior of the space is gorgeous - mason jars hang above the bar with little light bulbs, faux forest murals spread around the front VIP booth and a wall of saws cuts through the space, dividing the kitchen from the dining area.  Absolutely a must-see (and must-taste) new spot in Chicago's West Loop!  (P.s. If you see Dion's dog, Sid, driving his car around - please let someone know)...
Well, my friends ... I think I have you all caught up.  Thank you for your patience as I keep busy and try my best to keep you informed!  I'll be on a more regular schedule now that vacation is over and the summer event season begins.  I look forward to the summer ahead and to hopefully running into you at one Chicago's best events...

Until then - Happy Spring!