<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - ]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/the-scene/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:26:58 -0500 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:26:58 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Your #Chicagogram Photos: December 2012]]> Tue, 25 Dec 2012 16:53:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Chicagogram-street-roachbyt.jpg Check out your Instagram from all over the city tagged #chicagogram.

Photo Credit: instagram.com/roachbytes]]>
<![CDATA[Burberry's Grand Opening Bash]]> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 11:49:08 -0500 Moshpix: One of the most sought-after invites in the city was Burberry's grand opening party, held at its new Michigan Avenue location. A who's who of Chicago was in the house for the stylish event, which included a live set by British musician Carl Barat and appearances the Chicagoans who took part in the retailer's Art of The Trench campaign.]]> Moshpix: One of the most sought-after invites in the city was Burberry's grand opening party, held at its new Michigan Avenue location. A who's who of Chicago was in the house for the stylish event, which included a live set by British musician Carl Barat and appearances the Chicagoans who took part in the retailer's Art of The Trench campaign.]]> http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Burberry_trench_3.jpg City scenester help welcome Michigan Avenue flagship store.

Photo Credit: Onasis Odelmo Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Grand Opening: Del Frisco’s Hits Oak Street]]> Tue, 04 Dec 2012 13:01:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Del_Friscos-blurby.jpg Upscale steakhouse takes over former Esquire Theatre space.]]> <![CDATA[William H. Macy Talks Independent Film, Creativity & Shameless]]> Fri, 30 May 2014 13:26:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Stefan-Holt-William-H-Macy.jpg Academy Award-nominee and Emmy Award-winning actor talks about his new independent film, his roughly 10 years in Chicago and his talk at Chicago Ideas Week on the NBC 5 NEWS at NOON on May 30, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Beyonce Stops at Vegan Eatery During Chicago Visit]]> Sat, 14 Dec 2013 19:02:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/edt-AP506846083039_1.jpg

Beyonce had a lot on her plate Friday, including some vegan cuisine from a Chicago area restaurant.

The celeb singer secretly released a new album just as she geared up to perform in Chicago Friday night, but Bey didn’t let that get in the way of her 22-day vegan cleanse.

While making her Chicago appearance, the singer stopped at raw vegan restaurant Karyn’s Cooked on North Wells Street.

Beyonce met with raw vegan expert Karyn Calabrese during her visit to talk about the lifestyle.

Bey and her hubby of five years embarked on the 22-day vegan diet challenge Dec. 3, eliminating meat and animal products from their diets until Christmas.

Jay-Z said the decision marked the start of a “spiritual and physical cleanse” of sorts and have clearly been sticking to the decision, so far.

The stars join a long list of famous vegans including Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt and Olivia Wilde.


Photo Credit: Invision for Parkwood Entertainm]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Ranked A Top Travel City: Report]]> Tue, 29 Oct 2013 15:29:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+skyline+generic.jpg

Chicago asis being ranked as one of the best cities to travel to, proving once again that the tourism industry can't get enough of the Windy City.

Chicago came in 8th place on the Lonely Planet's top 10 cities list, which was part of its 2014 Best in Travel awards. They cited Wrigley Field, Second City and several festivals as some of the hidden gems that make Chicago a top travel destination.

"The Windy City’s cloud-scraping architecture and world-class museums take centre stage, but the real fun begins after you check off the masterpieces," the website said.

Chicago was the only U.S. city on Lonely Planet's list, with New York and Los Angeles nowhere to be found. The number one slot went to Paris, France, and other featured cities included Zurich, Switzerland and Vancouver, Canada.

Our recognition doesn't stop there, either. The Chicago hot dog was recognized on Lonely Planet's list of "hidden foodie highlights" and referred to as an "elegant snack."

Between this award and Conde Nast's ranking earlier this month, it's safe to say Chicago is becoming a serious hot spot around the world.

<![CDATA[7 Chicago Pizzas Make List of Best 101 Pies]]> Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:57:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Lou+Malnati%27s+Deep+Dish.jpg

In a new list of the 101 best pizzas in America, seven Chicago spots got its slice of the pie.

Not bad, considering TripAdvisor reviewers snubbed Windy City 'za altogether this summer.

Editors at food-and-drink website The Daily Meal asked 46 panelists to narrow down the best pizzas from a list of more than 400 from across the country. Thirty came from New York state and 12 from California.

Chicago's highest honor went to Spacca Napoli's Bufalina at No. 23 thanks to its "unique take on Neapolitan-style pizza." Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic pizza snagged the city's second showing on the list at a rather low No. 37.

"Does it say something that the first Chicago deep-dish pizzeria on this list of the 101 best pizzas in America ranks number 37?" the site points out. "Sounds like a question a New Yorker would ask. Maybe because deep-dish pizza isn’t actually pizza, but a casserole?"

Hmm ...

Gino’s East ranks No. 40 thanks to its cheese deep-dish 'za, Pizzeria Uno comes in at No. 51 and Falco's Pizza & Pasta's thin-crust sausage hangs in there at No. 61.

The Daily Meal tips its hat to "stuffed pizza" with a No. 78 ranking for Giordano's Pizza.

"Whether or not you believe anything this thick is served in Italy and claimed there to be Italian, there are now some 40 locations in Chicago (and three in Florida) serving this version of stuffed pizza."

Last but not least, Vito & Nick’s sausage pie ranks at No. 79.

As for No. 1? That honor went to Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, Conn.

Photo Credit: Lou Malnati's ]]>
<![CDATA[Beyonce, Jay Z Theater Rumors Not True: Source]]> Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:46:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP120220148080.jpg

Beyonce and Jay Z apparently aren't investing in an iconic Chicago theater after all.

Rumors lit up the internet Wednesday about the power couple purchasing the New Regal Theater, according to entertainment news site Gumbumper.

Jet Magazine
reported the South Side theater was purchased for $250,000. The FDIC confirmed the building is under contract but would not confirm on the record the celebrities were behind the deal.

A source familiar with the deal who wished to remain anonymous because of the pending sale, however, said the Beyonce and Jay Z rumor is inaccurate.

The 2,500-seat landmark theater opened in 1927 on East 79th Street as the Avalon Theater and was closed in 2003 by its previous owners after seeing the theater lose money for years.

The New Regal once hosted the likes of Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Etta James and Miles Davis.

Gumbumper says the space could once again be used for entertainment.

It's not Jay Z's first visit to the South Side. On the "Watch The Throne" album with Kanye West -- who is from the South Side of Chicago -- Jay Z raps, "Made a right on 79th, I’m coming down South Shore Drive" on the song "Gotta Have It."

When the tour hit Chicago, Jay Z and Kanye created a stir during a surprise visit to the neighborhood, shooting footage that was used when the song was played at the concert.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Michigan Ave. Mag Celebrates Five Years in Print]]> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 09:03:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mw+mag+16.jpg

Michigan Avenue Magazine celebrated five years in print, Thursday,  with an over-the-top birthday bash highlighted with a performance by Michelle Williams.

Williams, who starred on the cover of the magazine’s summer issue, joined President and Publisher Dan Uslan and Editor in Chief J.P. Anderson and many others at the event at the Langham Chicago Hotel.

The event was sponsored by BMO Harris Bank and featured cocktails by Russian Standard Vodka.

The Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter performed tunes, including “If We Had Your Eyes,” off her highly acclaimed new album.

Governor Pat Quinn’s office proclaimed the day as “Michigan Avenue Magazine Day,” honoring the publication for its commitment to Chicago’s social and cultural groups and for chronicling the best of the region and celebrating Chicago as a world-class city, according to a release from the magazine.

Michigan Avenue Magazine, which launched in 2008, is Chicago’s luxury lifestyle publication, which follows the renowned people, culture, politics and parties in a glossy, oversized format.

<![CDATA[60K Shoppers Flood New Outlet Mall's First Day]]> Fri, 02 Aug 2013 11:51:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Fashion-Outlet_02.jpg

If you're thinking of stopping by Fashion Outlets of Chicago, the new outlet mall in Rosemont, be prepared for a crowd.

An estimated 60,000-plus shoppers turned out to Thursday's grand opening, and they reportedly opened their wallets in a big way. Mall representatives said several retailers saw record-breaking opening-day sales, and Tory Burch, Gucci and Prada stores had lines that lasted up to two hours.

"We’ve been open for a just over an hour and shoppers are lined up outside of Tory Burch again!" spokeswoman Laurie Leopold said in an email.

To celebrate the opening, Leopold said stores are offering deals all weekend, including 40 percent off at J Crew, $25 off $50 purchases at Bloomingdales and more.

Before you go, know that the mall houses more than 130 stores, including Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and Forever 21. Mall officials said the stores are true outlets, not regular retailers posing as such in a different setting, so there should be deals to be had.

If you're after high-end goods, head to the second floor and eyeball posh retailers such as Gucci, Hugo Boss and Barneys New York.

The mall offers a variety of special transportation packages to get there, both from downtown Chicago and O'Hare Airport, as well as free shuttle buses from the Rosemont Blue Line.

Airport travelers have the option of checking their luggage and printing boarding passes at the Guest Services location at the mall.

Photo Credit: Marcus Riley ]]>
<![CDATA[Jay-Z To Host Post-Show Party in Chicago ]]> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 11:06:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/timberlake-jayz.jpg

Where will Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake party after their "Legends of the Summer" stop at Soldier Field?

It looks like Jay-Z's plans are a little firmer than Timberlake.

The rapper is scheduled to stop by Lumen at some point after the duo's Monday night Chicago concert.

Red Carpet check-in for the event begins at 10:30 p.m. where industry professionals, entrepreneurs, tastemakers and celebrities will attend. D'USSE Cognac cocktails made specifically for the tour will be part of the celebration.

Co-headliner Justin Timberlake’s after-party plans remain a mystery. The best guess is he will make an appearance at American Junkie, a River North restaurant hosting the “official 901Tequila owned by Justin Timberlake after party,” which will launch in Chicago after the show.

Doors open at 9 p.m. with no RSVP required for entry but there is no guarantee the singer will attend.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images for NARAS]]>
<![CDATA['Transformers 4' Holds Casting For Chicago Extras]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 09:49:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/202*120/07-t-3-dom.jpg

"Transformers 4" begins filming in Chicago this fall and the new iteration is in need of some hometown talent.

Paramount Pictures will hold casting for movie extras this Friday and Saturday, according to the Chicago Film Office, beginning at 9 a.m. at Skokie Holiday Inn, 5300 W. Touhy Ave. in Skokie.

Directors are looking for "clean-cut business types, FBI and military type" extras for the forthcoming Michael Bay film. Men and women ages 18 and older will be considered. Applicants are asked to come dressed appropriately.

Filming in the Windy City begins Aug. 18 through Sept. 27.

Chicago is no stranger to the franchise. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" fictitiously put the city under siege in 2010, taking down the city's major landmarks and tearing up most of downtown.

Bay said good things about his experience here, noting the Chicago Film Office allowed him to do things that other cities wouldn't have permitted and lauded Chicago's residents and architecture.

Photo Credit: Robert Zuckerman]]>
<![CDATA[2013 Taste of Chicago]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2013 08:57:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tasteofchicago22.jpg Chicago's famous Taste of Chicago Festival begins for the 33rd year. ]]> <![CDATA[Taste of Chicago: What To Expect]]> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 08:13:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000003641779_722x406_36684355650.jpg NBC 5's Lauren Petty talks with Sam Toia, the president of the Illinois Restaurant Association. He shares with us a selection of foods and tells Lauren what to expect at this year's festival - including food trucks and three course meals by some of Chicago's most famous chefs.]]> <![CDATA[2013 Taste of Chicago Restaurants, Food Trucks]]> Mon, 08 Jul 2013 09:51:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Taste-couple-2012.jpg

Ahead of the 33rd annual Taste of Chicago, running July 10 to July 14 in Grant Park, the city announced the 35 restaurants and 14 food trucks participating in the food fest.

“Taste of Chicago is a great long-standing tradition of summer in the city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “As our culinary reputation has grown on the national stage, this event continues to reflect the vibrant and diverse restaurant community of Chicago with old favorites and new, exciting worldwide cuisines."

Strips of 12 food and beverage tickets will be available for $8. Each restaurant will offer signature items as well as "taste" portions costing $2.50 or less.

Before and during evening concerts at the Petrillo Music Shell, attendees can purchase food from trucks parked just east of the lawn at the pavilion. The mayor's office said food trucks will start serving an hour before each concert and serve for the duration of the show.

Trucks will serve three or four regular-size portions and two "taste" portions and will accept the same food and beverage tickets as other Taste booths.

Here's the list of restaurants:

Abbey Pub & Restaurant
3420 W. Grace St.

Bacino’s of Lincoln Park
2204 N. Lincoln Ave.

Beat Kitchen
2100 W. Belmont Ave.

Billy Goat Inn
1535 W. Madison St.

BJ’s Market & Bakery
8734 S. Stony Island Ave.

Bobak Sausage Co.
5725 S. Archer Ave.

Bombay Spice Grill & Wine
450 N. Clark St.

Caffe Gelato
2034 W. Division St.

Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill
300 W. 26th St.

Churro Factory
3755 W. Armitage St.

Connie’s Pizza
2371 S. Archer Ave.

Cubby Bear Lounge, Ltd.
1059 W. Addison St.

Chicagoland Locations

Eli’s Cheesecake
6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr.

Flip Crepes
131 N. Clinton. St., Suite 12

Franco’s Ristorante
300 W. 31st St.

The Fudge Pot
1532 N. Wells St.

Gold Coast Dogs
225 S. Canal St.

4623 N. Broadway St.

Kasia’s Deli
2101 W. Chicago Ave.

Lao Ma La Chinese Restaurant
2017 S. Wells St.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
805 S. State St.

The Noodle Vietnamese
2336 S. Wentworth Ave.

Oak Street Beach Café
5700 S. Cicero Ave.

O’Briens Restaurant
1528 N. Wells St.

Original Rainbow Cone
9233 S. Western Ave.

Pazzo’s Cucina Italiana
23 E. Jackson St.

Ricobene’s on 26th St.
252 W. 26th St.

Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs
201 N. Clark St.

The Smoke Daddy
1804 W. Division St.

Star of Siam
11 E. Illinois St.

1014 W. Taylor St.

Tutto Italiano
501 S. Wells St.

Vee-Vee’s African Restaurant
6232 N. Broadway St.

Wishbone Restaurant
1001 W. Washington Blvd.

Here's a list of food trucks and corresponding concerts:

July 10, fun.
Bombay Wraps
Taquero Fusion
The Fat Shallot
The Jerk
Royal Cupcakes and Bakes
Beavers Coffee and Donuts

July 11, Robin Thicke
Taquero Fusion
Pork Chop
The Fat Shallot
Royal Cupcakes and Bakes
Beavers Coffee and Donuts

July 12, Robert Plant presents the Sensational Space Shifters
Bombay Wraps
The Salsa Truck
JB Alberto Pizza
Pork Chop
The Jerk
Chicago Cupcake
Ice Cubed

July 13, Jill Scott

Bombay Wraps
The Salsa Truck
JB Alberto Pizza
Pork Chop
Chicago Cupcake
Ice Cubed

July 14, Neon Trees

Taquero Fusion
JB Alberto Pizza
The Fat Shallot
The Jerk
Chicago Cupcake
Ice Cubed

<![CDATA[Popular Empanadas Food Truck Owners Expand Business]]> Thu, 09 May 2013 10:00:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/5411+empanadas.JPG

What does 5411 Empanadas stand for, besides tasty stuffed pockets served from a popular, 2-year-old Chicago food truck? 

"It's the international dialing code for Buenos Aires, Argentina," owner Nicolas Ibarzabal said. "That is where I am from, and that is where the empanada style we make [originates]. We make them the Argentinian way."

That means baked, not fried with a dough that is just a little bit thinner than others.

"I like the baked option rather than the fried," Ibarzabal said. "It is a little healthier and it is tastier."

Like many trucks in the city, 5411's offerings are made at a brick-and-mortar kitchen. Until last July, food trucks could not cook on board and only a few trucks recently were given permits to do so.

"We have our stand-alone store," manager Ricardo “Ric” Perez said. "We bake fresh daily, from oven at the store to this hotbox directly to the customer."

A tour of Chicago's food trucks wouldn't be complete without a stop for empanadas at 5411, but be prepared to wait in line. The truck did so well last summer that the owners opened a restaurant on Clark Street to get through the winter. Now sales are warming up with the temperature.

"We maybe have been doing it the longest," Ibarzabal said. "I think we have a unique product that you cannot find very easy, so I think that is our edge."

Their edge has become more widespread. A second storefront is in the works, and the owners started an empanadas delivery and catering company.

Ibarzabal credits their success to fans, Twitter followers and a growing food truck community.

"The best thing is every day, as soon as we stop, there are people already waiting for us," he said. "When we are leaving the shop, we tweet, 'Hey, we are on our way, we will be there 15 minutes.' It's impressive."

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Couple Meets, Marries, Opens Chicago Food Truck]]> Wed, 08 May 2013 11:32:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kye+food+truck+fat+shallot.JPG

For one Chicago couple, first came love, then came marriage, then came grilling pulled pork on a food truck.

The Fat Shallot is one of the city's newest mobile eateries, and the duo behind the food truck has a whole lotta love for each other and good eating.

Sam Barron and Sarah Weitz went to the same high school and same college, but it wasn't until they bonded over butter that things really started heating up.

"We discussed the importance of butter," Barron said, "and thought, 'Oh, this could really be something.'"

Weitz is a dietician and Barron brings the culinary chops to the relationship thanks to stints in kitchens in New Orleans and at Chicago's Everest and the revamped Pump Room.

"The idea to be able to work together and be together versus him coming home from his job at 2 in the morning, this way we could be together," Weitz said. "Sam could be creative and cook whatever he wants to and we work for ourselves."

They were married in June and now they're in business, and their gourmet sandwich truck just got the OK from the city to hit the road. Their menu includes pulled pork, salami and grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as sides such as tarragon slaw and roasted potato salad.

"Our whole concept is big hearty sandwiches," Barron said.

"I always get upset with a sandwich if I am still hungry later even if it tasted good," he said.

The truck's name is a play on one of Chicago's nicknames, The Big Onion, and though the shallot has a more subtle taste and vibe, there is nothing subtle about some of the homemade remoulades served off the truck.

<![CDATA[Stockbroker Quits Job, Opens Food Truck]]> Tue, 07 May 2013 11:15:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/daniella+salsa+truck.JPG

When it comes to heat, Dan Salls is one chef who knows how to stand it in the kitchen.

Salls quit his day job less than a year ago as a financial adviser to take his amateur cooking skills on the road and open The Salsa Truck, the first licensed mobile food preparer in Chicago.

"When I left my job we were in my apartment every night with culinary textbooks," Salls said. "This is how you make mayonnaise, this is how you bake bread. So we really started from the ground up because we wanted to cook with purpose." 

The Salsa Truck provides more than the name implies, though the menu certainly spotlights salsa. Various tacos and quesadillas, as well as soup, rice, beans and chips, are all offered curb-side.

It's the authentic kind of food Salls imagined making, and though he hopes to expand the menu, this is the cuisine he always had in mind.

"We knew we had to do something special," Salls said. "We didn't want to be the food truck that went out there and started doing twists. We try to keep it as authentic as possible."

"We do everything from scratch. Nothing comes from a can."

The food truck has been Salls' foot in the door. He plans to open his own brick-and-mortar restaurant, The Garage, in the next few weeks. The restaurant offers a sort of lunch-counter atmosphere, and he plans to let other food trucks serve some of their items on his menu.

When asked if his food business is worth leaving his job for, Salls doesn't hesitate.

"We are out here every day living our dream and making people happy, so what's wrong with that."

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Bite Me: Packing House's Milk Braised Lamb Shoulder]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:03:56 -0500 Packing House's Milk Braised Lamb Shoulder
What's in it? 7 oz portions of Pat Lafrieda lamb shoulder are cured overnight, seared and simmered with whole milk, stock, vegetables and spices for 4 hours. After the meat is left to sit overnight to reabsorb the stock, it's served with a spring pea salsa verde and potatoes emulsified with buttermilk, cream and butter.
Suggested pairing: La Couffe, which is offered on draft.
How much is it? $23
Executive Chef Amanda Barnes says: "This dish is a classic italian way to braise meat. I really haven't encountered a meat that doesn't respond well to this technique, even whole chicken! The milk adds a creamy sweetness to the dish that is accentuated with the potatoes. The potatoes are essentially a medium to suspend butter. The pea pesto is an acidic counterpoint to all that heavy richness. It's really more of a combo like if pesto...]]>
Packing House's Milk Braised Lamb Shoulder
What's in it? 7 oz portions of Pat Lafrieda lamb shoulder are cured overnight, seared and simmered with whole milk, stock, vegetables and spices for 4 hours. After the meat is left to sit overnight to reabsorb the stock, it's served with a spring pea salsa verde and potatoes emulsified with buttermilk, cream and butter.
Suggested pairing: La Couffe, which is offered on draft.
How much is it? $23
Executive Chef Amanda Barnes says: "This dish is a classic italian way to braise meat. I really haven't encountered a meat that doesn't respond well to this technique, even whole chicken! The milk adds a creamy sweetness to the dish that is accentuated with the potatoes. The potatoes are essentially a medium to suspend butter. The pea pesto is an acidic counterpoint to all that heavy richness. It's really more of a combo like if pesto and salsa verde had a baby with peas. It is also an opportunity to add another classic pairing of mint and lamb."
Packing House, 1113 W Randolph St, 312-929-4787, @packing_house ]]>
You should eat something. Here are our favorite dishes from around Chicago.]]>
<![CDATA[Tribute Held For Late Photographer Steve Starr]]> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 11:33:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Starr-Tribute_9.jpg

Late Chicago photographer Steve Starr's vision came to life in a glorious way Wednesday night.

Starr died last month of a sudden heart attack at the age of 65, but the last project he was planning was a 12-12-12 event to showcase his "Faces in the News" photographs.

The affair at The Murphy quickly shifted into a tribute to Starr's unique spirit.

The sad thing is, it's almost as if he knew he wasn't going to be here, because he spent so much time saying, 'This is how I want it to happen. This is the timing. This is the look,' so we just kind of facilitated that which he put in motion," said Starr's friend, fashion photographer Mark Roscoe.

Hundreds of friends and Starr's family, including sisters and nieces, were on hand for the celebration, which included fashion shows and musical performances.

"He was a perfectionist, and it turns out that his friends made it perfect," Starr's older sister, Bobbi Weiss said. "He would have loved it if he were here."

And even though the party stayed upbeat, there was an overwhelming feeling that something -- or someone, was missing.

"Even though this is a celebration, it's a bittersweet celebration because he should be here to see it, and that's more than a little upsetting to me," event emcee Candace Jordan said. "We'll all try to be happy and smiley, but we've lost someone that we loved to pieces."

Along with his photography work that appeared in virtually every Chicago publication over the years, Starr was a designer, collector, artist and a foremost expert on the Art Deco era.

Photo Credit: Victor Skrebneski]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Kitchen Gadget Gifts]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 19:25:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Wayne+Gadgets.JPG

For those of us who like to cook, getting kitchen gadgets as gifts during the holidays is actually a good thing.  So, every year I like to check out and share interesting and new items that will make food preparation or entertaining a little more fun and easy.  Many of the items below are available at local retailers as well as online.  Prices may also vary greatly from the listed price.

From Think Geek

Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter
Metal Pizza cutter in the form of the famous NCC-1701 Enterprise ship from Star Trek the original series.  It's an officially licensed Star Trek collectable.  It has a laser etched stainless steel blade with solid zinc-alloy chromium plated body.  $29.99

Start Trek Enterprise Oven Mitt
It's a logical Vulcan chef accessory and a logical accessory for a chef.
Protect your hand while showing off your Star Trek fandom.  It's 100% cotton outside, 100% polyester inside.  $14.99

Pie Pop Kit

Move over, cake pops.  The Pie Pop Kit is a combination of a pie and a lollipop.  It's easy enough for kids to use.   And makes a great dessert on a stick. $24.95
From Kuhn Rikon

Push Pans
Our ingenious "no-spring" version of the springform pan makes it easy to create perfect quiches, tarts, cheesecakes, layer cakes and more! Traditional spring pans not only leak, they're fussy to use.  $24.95-$34.95

From NuWave

The NuWave Induction Cooktop
This all-in-one kitchen solution has 52 temperature settings, heats up quickly and is easy to clean.  It's safer than any cooktop, lightweight and portable and has exact temperature controls.  $99 plus shipping and processing

From Mastrad

4" Ceramic Paring Knives
Mastrad's award winning Ceramic Paring Knife contains a folding protective handle. The knife has a zirconium ceramic blade that is stronger and lighter than harden steel. The knife is perfect for slicing, cutting, and chopping. $29.95

Weggy Egg Poacher
Easily cooks eggs evenly and consistently.  Features enhanced silicone material and is heat resistant up to 480 degrees F. Perfect for making eggs benedict.  Set of 2, $7.99

This mortar/grater boasts three slicers and a lid for storage.  Offers a stainless steel mortar and pestle on a bamboo holder.  Grinds herbs and spices of all kinds.  $70

From Pop Tag

The Pop Tag  for People and Pets
The Pop Tag is a unique and handy gift for the beer drinker in your life.  It is a custom keychain and bottle opener in one!  The Pop Tag is stainless steel and hand-stamped.  The perfect personalized gift!  Also comes in a version for your pooch - ID tag & bottle opener in one. $14.99  

From Margaritaville

Margaritaville Mixd Drink Maker
Holiday party guests can be their own bartender with the Margaritaville® Mixed Drink Maker featuring more than 45 recipe options created by Margaritaville® bartenders.  One press of a button makes drink recipes come to life as this first-of-its-kind innovation whips up perfectly proportioned cocktails. This consummate party starter features a digital display with engaging imagery of each drink recipe, easily navigated by the rotating drink wheel.  Find yourself at the Port of Indecision? Press the “I Feel Lucky” button and set the digital display in motion as it lands on a fantastic drink selection for fun and entertainment.  Certain to be the centerpiece of any party, set up is a breeze, just add choice liquors and mixers into each of the four reservoirs and the automatic programming does the rest. Spin the drink wheel and let the fun begin! $299

From Krups

Krups Immersion Blender
For the perfect mashed potatoes and creamy soups. Whether whipping up warm soups or iced-cold smoothies, the KRUPS Immersion Blender is powerful enough to blend, chop and puree delectable sauces, soups and dips for your holiday feast with the touch of a button.  Its durable stainless steel shaft removes with a click for easy storage, while six variable speeds are controlled on the dial on handle. The easy-to-read LCD handle display shows selected speed, surrounded by a Soft Grip Ergonomic Handle with one-touch power. The Immersion Blender comes with a measuring beaker and wall mount. $99

Krups Beer Tender
For the Party Animal!  Always a party favorite, make sure the drinks are flowing as the in laws, cousins, neighbors and friends wreak havoc on your home. KRUPS, the worldwide leader of kitchen appliances and Heineken, the leader in European Premium Imported Beer have partnered together to create the ultimate beer drinking experience at home. The BeerTender system is compatible with the Heineken, Heineken Light, and Newcastle DraughtKeg systems. The BeerTender silent cooling system provides constant and consistent cooling, and will keep it beer the ideal temperature of 41 degrees F. $149

Krups Juice Extractor
oin the juicers in a healthy lifestyle with the Krups® Juice Extractor. Stainless steel juicer makes smooth, nutritious juices. Easily select high or low setting with buttons at side.  Three-inch feed tube and 2.2L pulp container allows for insertion of larger fruits and vegetables. Stainless steel blade maximizes juice extraction from delicate fruits and tough vegetables. Safety locking arm. $149

From Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty - Pancake Maker
Easy to use and great for kids. The Hello Kitty Pancake maker makes flavorful flapjacks in the shape of the Hello Kitty character.  It's a great addition to any home or dorm room. $39.95

From Crcok-Pot.com

NFL Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry™ Slow Cookers

Football fans can support their favorite team on the field and score a touchdown in the kitchen with the brand new NFL Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry™ Slow Cookers series featuring NFL team logos.  Now, football fanatics can personalize their Crock-Pot® Slow Cooker with any of the National Football League’s team logos and artwork.  Whether fans are hot for New Orleans jambalaya, craving Chicago-style dogs, or in desperate need of Texas-style spicy BBQ wings, these new NFL Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry™ Slow Cookers are ready to rock any local game day cravings. The perfect gift for friends and family this holiday season, the limited-edition NFL Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry™ Slow Cookers are available exclusively at Crock-Pot.com while supplies last. Starting at $29.99

From Ball

Ball Fresh Tech Automatic Jelly & Jam Maker
Create personalized gifts of homemade jam or jelly for the most important people in your life in just 30 minutes, from start to finish, with the Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker!  Nothing tastes better than a homemade gift of jam made with fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, peaches and other flavorful fruit.  SmartStir™ Technology consistently stirs during the cooking process ensuring no-burn results and a bit of freedom from standing over a hot stove.  Quick start guide with recipes, dual setting buttons and a nonstick interior make this one of the easiest appliances to use and clean and a perfect gift for foodies.  $99

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

<![CDATA["Book of Mormon" Takes on Chicago]]> Tue, 11 Dec 2012 20:18:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Book-of-Mormon-chicago.jpg

One of the most popular musicals in history began an extended Chicago run on Tuesday.

"Book of Mormon" is on stage at the Bank of America Theatre from December 11 through June 2.

The musical is created by the two minds behind the "South Park" cartoon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who are known for pushing the envelope.

"Oh, it's offensive, we didn't set out to make it offensive, but we're just offensive people so it just came out a little offensive," Stone said.

The production has one nine Tony awards including "Best Musical" during its New York run. Ben Platt, who plays Elder Cunningham in the production, says he's surprised at how well the show has done.

"I love that at the same time it's both raunchy comedy and it's got all that South Park hilarity but it's also a sincere love letter to musical theatre," Platt said.

As for the raunchy themes, the creative duo never worried about offending the Mormon church.

"The church is pretty awesome and they're really good at PR, and they said exactly what they should have said, which was something like they live in the same country we do that allows us to have this religion," Parker said.

Tickets are sold out through March 3rd, but seats remain for performances through June 2.

There's still a chance at getting into one of the earlier sold-out shows. A daily pre-show drawing will make a limited number of tickets available for $25 each day.

<![CDATA[Baconfest 2013 Tickets On Sale Monday]]> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 11:48:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Baconfest_2012_30.jpg

It's time to get hog wild with first set of Baconfest 2013 tickets available December 10.

VIP tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. for the popular event, which will be held April 20 next year at the UIC Forum.

It'll cost you $200, plus a $5.99 ticket processing fee to be the first to sample everything from hearty pork sandwiches, unique desserts made with the other white meat, porky-infused liquors and more.

Around 50 Chicago chefs will be on hand to serve up the goodness. The less-crowded VIP hour gets you first crack at the goods before the regular lunch and dinner shifts start. Only 175 VIP tickets will be made available.

It will be the fifth annual year for Baconfest, which typically sells out fairly quickly.

General admission tickets ($100) will go on sale in February.

Proceeds from Baconfest benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Photo Credit: Marcus Riley ]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Holiday Mincemeat Pies]]> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 16:08:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWMeatlessMincemeat.jpg

Growing up, I was never a big fan of mincemeat, primarily because I didn't know what it was.  MInce or mincemeat used in pies was originally a combination of meat, suet, and different fruits and spices and was always popular during the holidays.  Today, mincemeat pies are primarily a combination of fruits and spices, with meat no longer being in the mix.  So, this week, my facebook friend, Ida Waterous, sent me a recipe that she had already modified a bit, including the addition of Apple Pie Moonshine.  I've tweaked Ida's recipe a bit more and think this team effort with her will make a nice addition to your holiday recipe collection.  If you don't want to use alcohol in this recipe, simply substitute apple cider.

"Meatless" Mincemeat Pie
recipe courtesy of Ida Waterous (with a few modifications)

Pie Crust
makes two pie crusts


2 1/2 cu Flour

3/4 cu Cold Butter

6 oz Cream Cheese


Cut butter into small cubes. Cut or pull cream cheese into small pieces.  Combine all three ingredients. Using your fingers, mix to form a dough (you can also put ingredients in a large food processor and process until dough forms a ball). Knead for about 30 seconds.  Split dough into two equal parts and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. 



3/4 cups raisins, coarsely chopped
3/4 cu dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
4 apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
1/2 orange, seeded chopped with rind
1/2 lemon, seeded and chopped with rind
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tbl All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cu Apple Pie Moonshine (you can substitue bourbon or replace with more apple cider)
1/2 cu Apple Cider
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground clove
1 lg Egg, beaten


Combine raisins, cranberries, apples, orange, lemon and apple cider vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool and thicken.  If you have time to let the ingredients rest overnight, the flavor and consistency will be better.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out one crust large enough to line your pie pan and allow edges to lay over the sides by at least 1/2".  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the filing into the crust leaving behind any excess liquid. Reserve the liquid. Spread the ingredients evenly in the pa. Place the top crust over the pie and crimp the edges together. Cut steam vents in the top.  If you have extra crust, roll it out and cut additional shapes, like leaves, and decorate the top of the crust.  Brush egg over the surface of the top crust.  Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Cool to room temperature.  Serve with a bit of the reserved liquid, either a room temperature or heated a bit. 

Thanks again to Ida for sharing this recipe.  If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Charlie Trotter Auctions Items From Restaurant]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 10:32:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/charlie-trotter_cooking.jpg

You may never be able to cook like Charlie Trotter, but now you have a chance to use some of his gear.

An auction will be held Wednesday to sell items from the renowned chef's restaurant, which closed for good in August after 25 years in business.

Auction items range from kitchen gadgets and appliances to the artwork on the wall of the restaurant. A sample of the items include:

  • One-of-a-Kind Bernardaud China
  • Jenn-Air Appliances
  • Full Collection of Copper Pots and Pans
  • Large Collection of Modern Contemporary Artwork
  • Photography from Tim Turner and Paul Elledge
  • Pastry Convection Slicer

An advanced viewing of the auction items was held Dec. 11 at 816 W. Armitage, which is also where the auction will take place, along with concurrent online bidding at bidspotter.com.

A recent Christie's auction of Trotter's rare wines fetched nearly $1 million.

<![CDATA[Jamar Rogers: Life After "The Voice"]]> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 11:35:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/JamarRogers.jpg Jamar Rogers has been quite busy since he was voted off the hit NBC show. He's writing a book, writing for Insider.com and recently appeared on a Christmas special. LeeAnn Trotter reports on what keeps him going.]]> <![CDATA[Judge Orders Pitchfork to Turn Over Chief Keef Video]]> Mon, 17 Dec 2012 11:49:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chief_keef.jpg

The company that runs the popular Pitchfork Music Festival has until the middle of next week to turn over the complete footage recorded of teen rapper Chief Keef holding a rifle.

Pitchfork TV several months ago decided against using any of the footage, shot for a feature on the rapper, but prosecutors want the video to see if the teen violated his probation by holding the weapon.

Judge Carl Anthony Walker made his ruling Wednesday, saying prosecutors had successfully argued they had no other way of seeing the footage, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Chief Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart, was convicted last year of pointing a gun at a Chicago police officer, and as part of his probation is banned from holding or using weapons.

Pitchfork Media must surrender the footage by next Wednesday, Dec. 12. Walker said he would make a decision as to whether Cozart violated his probation the following Monday, one day before the rapper makes his debut on a national label with his CD "Finally Rich."

Cozart came under fire in September for joking on Twitter about the shooting death of an 18-year-old rival rapper, Joseph "Lil JoJo" Coleman. He later claimed his Twitter account was hacked.

Police have been looking into whether Chief Keef or anyone he knows had anything to do with Coleman's death.

<![CDATA[White House Holiday Decorations ]]> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 15:14:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/Michelle-Obama-Christmas.jpg With the holiday season just around the corner, Christmas trees and piles of present decorate the White House. Take a look at some of its best decorations.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Your #Chicagogram Photos: November 2012]]> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 10:43:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/11instathumb2012.jpg Check out your Instagram from all over the city tagged #chicagogram.]]> <![CDATA[VH1 Bumps Off "Mob Wives Chicago"]]> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 09:55:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Mob_wives_chicago_2.jpg

"Mob Wives Chicago" has been iced.

The VH1 reality show featured five women married or related to reputed mobsters in Chicago.

A spokesman confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that the show will not be coming back for a second season after an 11-episode run.

Cast member Pia Rizza told the newspaper that the Sunday night summer time slot and competition with the Olympics were factors in the low ratings.

The show was a spinoff of "Mob Wives," which followed the lives of five New York women with husbands connected to the Mafia.

The Chicago show faced some opposition from an Italian-American group that objected to the Mafia stereotypes, and businesses that would not cooperate with the show.

Photo Credit: Chicago Sun-Times]]>
<![CDATA[City Releases Summer Festival Dates]]> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 12:27:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Taste-couple-2012.jpg

Even though a measurable snowfall has yet to hit the ground this season, Chicagoans can already start dreaming about warm weather activities.

The city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has released the dates for 2013 festivals.

Taste of Chicago will be held July 10-14, replicating this year's recipe of a shortened festival and avoiding the Fourth of July weekend.

Other highlights include the return of the Millennium Park Music Series late May through mid September, the Chicago Blues Festival on June 6-9 and the Chicago Air and Water Show on August 17-18.

Click here for the full list of city-sponsored events.

<![CDATA[H&M, Z Gallerie, Ulta Moving To South Loop]]> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 12:57:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Shops-roosevelt-collection.jpg

Consider it one more positive sign that the South Loop is bouncing back.

The Shops at Roosevelt Collection, a 340,000 square foot property at Roosevelt and Wells has signed up its first round of retail tenants.

According to Crain's, the newcomers include clothing stores H&M, Republic of Couture, White House | Black Market and Francesca's Collection, home goods retailer Z Gallerie, restaurants BlackFinn American Grill and Chica Loco and specialty stores Ulta Salon and Fleet Feet Sports.

The development fell victim to the economic downturn in 2007 and was sold to a new owner.

An ICON theatre has been the most visible tenant since the development opened.

The shopping center offers 340,000 square feet of retail space, which is now a little more than 50 percent filled, according to Crain's.

<![CDATA[Mike Tyson Headed to Chicago Stage]]> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 13:02:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mike-tyson-spike-lee.jpg

Mike Tyson has been bitten by the acting bug.

After a limited Broadway engagement, the former heavyweight champion is bringing taking his one-man show "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" on the road. The production hits Chicago on February 15-17 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

The play, directed by Spike Lee and written by Tyson's third wife, Kiki Tyson, ranges from his poor upbringing in Brooklyn, to many of his big moments in and out of the ring, such as his tumultuous marriage to actress Robin Givens and the infamous biting of Evander Holyfield's ear in a 1997 match.

The play will hit more than 36 cities across the country.

Tyson's acting credits include a popular role in The Hangover movies.

Pre-sale tickets are already available.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Own Your Own Restaurant For NYE]]> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 16:31:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Fish-bar-interior.jpg

A Lakeview restaurant is taking a unique approach to attracting New Year's Eve customers.

Fish Bar is offering up the entire restaurant to the highest bidder who wants to ring in the new year with up to 50 of their closest friends.

The auction is live on eBay with a starting bid of $5,000 and ends at midnight November 30.

The winner takes over the restaurant from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and gets access to the sound system, a choice between two seafood-heavy menus and a beer, wine and spirits open bar.

And in case the price seems a bit too steep, consider last year's auction was sold for the minimum $5,000. That's $100 a head, a relative deal when you consider the price of most New Year's Eve parties.

Now all you have to do is find 49 friends.

<![CDATA[Black Friday: Good for Buzz, Not for Predicting Sales]]> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 11:39:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/93446410_10.jpg

There is perhaps no more glaring exhibition of American consumerism than Black Friday: shoppers spending their long Thanksgiving weekends camped outside big-box stores for the chance to fight through crowds for the latest gadgets and toys.

Retailers invest a lot of hope in that day, because it can be used to build momentum for the six-week holiday shopping season, their most profitable time of year.

But Black Friday isn’t the economic bellwether that it used to be. The thrifty financial landscape, and the growth of online shopping, have arguably diminished the event’s impact, even as it grows in popularity, with more stores opening on Thanksgiving or offering sales weeks earlier.

“Everyone’s going to hype it, and there are a lot of deals out there, and some people make it an experience in itself, but I don’t think it’s as much of a leading indicator of the holiday season,” said Dennis Jacobe, chief economist for Gallup, the research and polling firm.

The biggest reason, Jacobe said, is that while the recession has abated, consumer caution has not. His studies show that that more Americans say they’re confident in the economy, but they aren’t as willing to exercise that faith by opening their wallets. That includes upper-income shoppers, who may be growing anxious about the looming fiscal cliff’s impact on their taxes. The lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy could be a factor as well.

Many researchers have reported modest spending in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.

In other words, the crowds that turn out for door-buster deals this weekend can’t necessarily be expected to remain enthusiastic.

From an economic researcher’s perspective, Black Friday is more sport than science. Analysts say that sales figures during this brief period are less a function of the broader fiscal climate than of the effort retailers go to in drawing people to their stores.

Because that effort grows every year, Black Friday—and the rest of the weekend—typically performs well, said Allen Sinai, chief economist and strategist at Decision Economics Inc. The zeal usually fades a bit, then picks up again in the days right before Christmas.

Sinai also recalled a couple occasions when a Black Friday turned out to be “a dud,” but sales rallied later in the holiday season.

That record, he said, was why he didn’t “place a lot of stock” in Black Friday as an accurate gauge of holiday-season shopping.

Tell an economist you're trying to get accurate data on Black Friday sales, and the response will often be “good luck.” Many organizations—retail trade groups, market researchers, polling firms—try it, but methods, and margins of error, vary. U.S. Commerce Department statisticians don’t break down economic data that narrowly.

Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research at Fusion IQ, takes to his popular blog every year to bemoan the “wildly optimistic” surveys that the media quotes at the end of Black Friday weekend.

Without fail, he says, the reports exaggerate consumer enthusiasm. He pointed to last year’s National Retail Foundation’s claim that sales had spiked by 16 percent – which, if true, would have been a record-breaking sum. There was no apparent attempt to check the data later on, but economists generally agree that consumer spending increased by less than 6 percent over the entire 2011 holiday season.

The NRF has predicted a slight decrease in the number of Black Friday shoppers this year.

“You should be reluctant to draw too big a conclusion from one day,” Ritholtz said. “As we’ve seen, it never lives up to the hype. In fact, part of the reason there’s so much hype and false signals is there are so many people trying to get a read into that one day, far more than what you should typically be willing to see in one day. This is an economy, not an event.”

His prediction, shared by many other researchers, is that no matter how frenetic Black Friday turns out to be, holiday season spending will enjoy a modest uptick this year. Bain & Co., for example, predicted a 3.5 percent increase in spending, compared to a 3.7 percent increase in 2011 and 3.8 percent the year before. Gallup has predicted a "good, though not great" performance.

The biggest variable, many say, is the fiscal cliff, the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and automatic spending reductions that will go into effect Dec. 31 unless President Barack Obama can reach some kind of deal with Congress. If there is no solution before Christmas, consumers may get nervous, and hold back on holiday spending, some economists say.

Lawmakers are expected to get back to work on the issue after Thanksgiving weekend.

“Uncertainty is even greater than usual at this point,” said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics for Moody’s Analytics. “Whatever sales are like this weekend, it doesn’t really help to address that uncertainty."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Black Friday Guide: How to Get the Best Deals]]> Thu, 22 Nov 2012 09:47:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/black+friday+target.jpg

Black Friday — it's the mother of all shopping days. A day when millions of people wielding billions of dollars scratch and claw for the biggest bargains. So what's the best plan of attack?

"My advice is to skip it entirely," says Jody Rohlena, senior editor at Shop Smart magazine.

Black Friday has been such a staggering marketing success that it's spawned Black Thursday, Cyber Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday… the list goes on. The upside, as Rohlena sees it, is there's no need to focus all your energy, time and money on one day.

"We're gonna see really good markdowns all the way up to the Holidays, and guess what — when retailers have inventory that they're trying to unload, they're going to keep setting up new sales, so there can be advantages waiting," says Rohlena.

But whether you brave the crowds of Black Friday or not, you still need to be prepared. Even if you're a dedicated brick-and-mortar shopper, the Internet is your best starting point. There's a host of websites — BFAds.net, BlackFriday.com and SlickDeals.net — dedicated to tracking the best deals out there, as well as store hours.

"Take a look at those ads beforehand and really find out if they're great deals or not," advises Rohlena. "You can do quick searches at PriceGrabber.com, for example. Don’t assume because it's in a Black Friday circular that it's a great deal."

To help assuage your fears of overpaying, Rohlena says the big news this holiday season is in the realm of price matching. At a lot of stores, if you buy something and then find it cheaper someplace else, they'll refund you the difference.

If big box stores and national chains aren't your thing, Rohlena is a big fan of Small Business Saturday.

"People may think that prices are higher in those smaller independent retail stores — they may not necessarily be," he said. "And there's an advantage: If you ask for a better deal, you might be dealing directly with the owner, they have a lot more leeway to give you a better price. If you ask nicely, of course.

"If you go on AmericanExpress.com, you can register you card, if you use your AmEx to shop on Small Business Saturday at a participating retailer, they will give you a $25 credit. Spend $25, get the credit back on your bill — there's another really good reason to participate: free money."

If there's something you just have to have in-hand, Rohlena suggests a reconnaissance mission: going to the store a few days early to find out where your prey will be on display, the nearest entrance and the exact hour it will be available.

Among the other Internet tools available to the modern bargain hunter is the Black Friday Survival Guide app, which has a newsfeed, lets you search each store by category or each category by item, tells you exactly when each sale begins, provides competitor prices and lets you build a shopping list you can email to a loved one.

If the thought of the traffic and the crowds makes your chest tighten, the Internet is here to help but still requires a good plan. Rohlena recommends CyberMonday.com, CyberMonday2012.com, FreeShipping.org to see who's got free shipping and @cybermonday at Twitter.

With all of the new shopping tools at our disposal, why wade into the insanity of Black Friday at all?

"For those of us who really want to make sure we're giving a nice gift to someone we care about, I think it's important to be able to compare things physically, if you know what I mean, as opposed to virtually, online," says Dr. Tina Lowrey, professor of marketing at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and editor of "Brick & Mortar Shopping in the 21st Century."

"And for a lot of people, I think they enjoy being around other people that are in the holiday spirit, it's sort of an infectious kind of social gathering to be around… the communal nature of going out and being with other people who are out for the same reason."

Rohlena is unmoved.

"I know too much," he said. "I'm not going anywhere on Black Friday."

<![CDATA[Chicago's "Boss" Gets Fired]]> Tue, 20 Nov 2012 14:52:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/228*120/kelsey+grammer+boss.jpg

Turns out there is an entity strong enough to take down Chicago's fictional Mayor Tom Kane.

Starz announced Tuesday that it is canceling "Boss" after two seasons.

The show was set in Chicago and featured Kelsey Grammer portraying the iron-fisted mayor of the city.

The cable network did not offer a reason for canceling the show, but low ratings are likely to blame.

Deadline.com reports that negotiations are in the works for a two-hour movie that would wrap up the remaining story lines.

The cancellation is a blow for several Chicagoans who worked as extras on the show and in the behind-the-scenes production.

<![CDATA[Chicago Lights Its Christmas Tree]]> Tue, 20 Nov 2012 18:52:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago-2012-tree.jpg

The holiday spirit came to Daley Plaza Tuesday night.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel lit Chicago's 64-foot Colorado spruce from Prospect Heights at 5 p.m.

The tree, donated by Barbara Theiszmann, was one of 25 submitted to the city. Mary Slowik, of the Department of Cultural Affairs said the tree had to be at least 55 feet tall, had to be a spruce or a fir and had to have a nice shape. This one fit all three and more.

"It's going to be missed," Theiszmann told the city, "but I'm glad it's going to be downtown."

The night's free festivities started at 4:30 p.m. with Santa and the cast of "A Christmas Carol." The Christkindlmarket also opened Tuesday.

The tree remains in the plaza until January.

<![CDATA[Oprah Tweets Her Love for Microsoft -- Via iPad]]> Tue, 20 Nov 2012 09:57:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/oprah15.jpg

Oprah Winfrey just loves Microsoft's new Surface tablet -- even though she appears to still be using an iPad.

Winfrey sent out an enthusiatic tweet Sunday about the Surface, including it in her list of "favorite things for the holidays, but the social media sphere is buzzing over the fact that the tweet was sent out on an iPad.

Ironic? Most definitely, although it's hard to imagine Oprah physically doing her own tweeting when any one of her many assistants would likely be glad to take care of the typing.

Winfrey says she's already bought 12 of the Microsoft items as Christmas items.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McCormick Tribune Ice Rink Open Through Mid-March]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 17:51:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/skates_generic.jpg

If you've been in denial that the winter season is upon us, this latest development should shake you out of it.

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park officially opened Friday.

Use of the rink is free, but skate rentals will cost you $10.

City officials said the rink draws more than 100,000 skaters annually. Click here for a schedule and holiday hours.

The rink remains open through mid-March.

Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Italian Meatloaf For Turkey Day]]> Mon, 19 Nov 2012 12:28:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWTurkeyMeatloaf.jpg

If you're looking for an alternative to preparing a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, this recipe just might be the answer.  This turkey meatloaf, Italian style, is flavored with ground turkey, mortadella, mushrooms and fresh herbs and wrapped in prosciutto.  It's easy to prepare, makes a beautiful presentation, and can be made a few days ahead.  In fact, it also freezes well so you can make it as far in advance as you like.  The basic recipe was given to me by my friends Giovanni Lugli and Ivo Carlesso.  I've tweaked it just a bit and added instructions for making a tasty gravy from the pan drippings. 

Turkey Meatloaf with Mortadella and Portobello Mushrooms
Idea from Ivo Carlesso and Giovanni Lugli


1 lb Ground Turkey
1/2 lb Ground Mortadella
8 oz Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cu Onions, minced
1/2 cu Baby Portobello Mushrooms, minced
2 cloves Garlic, smashed and minced
1 tsp Fresh Sage, minced
1 tsp Fresh Thyme, minced
2 tsp Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
1 lg Egg, slightly beaten
3 oz Prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 tsp Fresh Rosemary, stripped from the stem


2 tsp Baby Portobello Mushrooms, very finely minced
2 tsp Onion, very finely minced
1 tbl All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cu Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp Black Pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  

In a large bowl, combine turkey, mortadella, ricotta, onions, mushrooms, garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, and egg.  Mix thoroughly and transfer to a 9"x12" baking dish.  Shape into a loaf roughly 9" long and about 4 1/2" wide.  Starting at one end of the loaf, layer the prosciutto on top, slightly overlapping the slices.  Tuck the ends under the loaf.  Sprinkle the rosemary on top of the prosciutto.

Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 60-75 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F in the thickest part.  Remove from the oven and transfer the meatloaf to a serving platter or cutting board.  Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Transfer about 1/3 cup of the juices and drippings that remain in the baking dish to a small saucepan.  Add onions and mushrooms and sauté over medium low heat for 5-7 minutes or until onions and mushrooms are tender.  Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine.  Continue stirring for about 3 minutes.  Very slowly, whisk in about 1/2 cup of chicken stock.  Continue whisking until mixture is smooth.  Add remaining stock and pepper and bring mixture to a boil.  Boil for about 10 minutes until mixture is significantly reduced and the resulting gravy is of your desired consistency.  At this point you can either strain the gravy to make it smooth or use it as is with the tiny bits of mushrooms and onion.

Thanks to my friends Giovanni and Ivo for the idea.  It's a great dish.  If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

<![CDATA[Mickey, Minnie Light Up Mag Mile]]> Sat, 17 Nov 2012 23:36:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Mag+Mile+Lights+Fest+2.jpg

Lights, camera, Mag Mile!

More than a million people traveled to Chicago on Saturday to see the 21st annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

The parade began at 5:30 p.m. Grand marshals Mickey and Minnie Mouse were joined by fellow Disney characters to host the magical evening as they lit up the mile and make their way south to the Fireworks Spectacular finale, which began at 7 p.m.

Santa Claus, Chicago sports stars, Garrett Popcorn Shop's popcorn and a float made entirely of candy were just a few sights seen during the 40-float procession.

The show doesn't stop there. Festival attendees can shop extended hours at participating stores after the parade as well as peruse other offers and events from area shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions.

With less than an hour to go before the Magnificent Mile lit up like a Christmas tree, thousands of spectators gathered along Michigan Avenue to stake their spot.

Getting downtown for the event was no picnic and heavy traffic was expected for the event. The DuSable Bridge closed around 3:30 p.m. and Michigan Avenue closed to vehicle traffic from Oak Street to Wacker Drive at 4:30 p.m.

The festival kicked off at 11 a.m. along Michigan Avenue and includes a full day of events, including the namesake illumination of more than one million lights on 200 trees and a fireworks spectacular.

Many who made the trip downtown early started the day off by participating in holiday-themed activities on Lights Festival Lane (Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue) and wandering through booths offering gifts and goodies from Chicago vendors.

Check out The Magnificent Mile's website for full details and information for full information.

<![CDATA[Graham Elliot, L2O Gain Michelin Stars]]> Wed, 14 Nov 2012 12:27:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Graham_Elliot_new.jpg

It's Oscar day for Chicago restaurants. Details of the Michelin Chicago 2013 dining guide were officially released on Wednesday.

Alinea keeps its three-star status in the guide, but the staff at graham elliot and L20 are celebrating after moving up to a 2 star rating.

Three new restaurants joined a total of 19 restaurants with 1 star, including Acadia, Goosefoot and Mexique.

A total of 433 restaurants featuring 44 different cuisines are covered in the guide, which includes categories such as the Bib Gourmand category for restaurants that offer good quality.

The Michelin guide is available for purchase via print and ebook and an iPhone app will be available later this month.