The Great American Cooking Expo presents "It's Just a Taste: Food and Wine Festival" brings together celebrity chefs, culinary trendsetters, and food and wine connoisseurs for two days of eating, drinking, and education. The event fills Arlington Park Racecourse’s 50,000 square feet with delicious aromas generated by more than 100 exhibitors, who alternate between demonstrating advanced techniques and providing tasty morsels and wine samples for the crowds. While professionals show off the methods that produce exceptional flavors, more than 25 premium beverage manufacturers offer up the perfect wines to pair. They provide more than 125 wines to sample, along with ample spirits and cordials.
The event’s organizers hope to provide more than fleeting culinary satisfaction. They also organize stations to help generate menu ideas, teach specific recipes, or inspire visitors to find the perfect gift for a culinary-inclined friend, whether it’s a set of new pots or a kidnapped celebrity chef.
Eric and Markay Suevel have run the eponymous Suevel Studios—a full-service glass studio that creates custom pieces and hosts classes—for more than 30 years. Both proprietors have practiced the art for decades, but their partnership marries two distinct approaches. Eric learned the craft at a young age from his uncle, and Markay possesses a liturgical perspective as an ordained minister with a master’s in divinity. They cut and fuse alongside a team of worldly and learned glassworkers, all of whom bring their own specific expertise to the table, whether doing restoration work or mosaics. The studio's stained-glass work lights up churches, homes, and restaurants as well as their students’ faces after they complete one of 25 classes. There, apprentices acquire the skills required to decorate household windows or liven up bland, translucent reading glasses.
Since opening its doors in 1998, Language Stars has introduced more than 30,000 children to foreign languages with small-group classes and full-immersion activities. Through a selective process, Language Stars recruits ambitious teachers from more than 20 countries who share a common goal of revolutionizing how and when American children learn foreign languages. Parents and Tots Classes are available for children between 1–3 years old, and Kids Only classes are available for children 3–5, 5–8 and 8–10 years old. Absorbent little minds soak up Spanish, Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic with the help of their FunImmersion approach, learning naturally through games, songs, activities and art projects to help kids finally understand their foreign-exchange imaginary friends.
For more than 30 years, the ladies at Women's Workout & Wellness have cultivated a supportive environment in which women can focus on health, fitness, and wellness. Whether grooving through Zumba sessions, pushing weight sleds, performing lifts, or sweating, students find plenty of challenges in the center’s classes. Staffers gauge fitness level by analyzing BMI and testing cardio, strength, flexibility, and the ability to karate-chop airborne cucumbers. Experts also lend advice on nutritional intake and help clients set personalized goals. Before and after sweat sessions, ladies can suit up and cool down in the spacious showers and locker rooms at each location. Daycare is available at some locations for a nominal fee.
Any martial-arts education involves hard knocks and tough falls, but U.S. Elite Martial Arts & Fitness Center cushions the blows with its 4,000 square feet of matted floors. Atop them, trainees exchange blows in boxing and muay thai kickboxing classes. Brazilian jujitsu, wrestling, and judo fighters perform takedowns as elegant as they are brutal, following up with holds and joint locks that immobilize an opponent’s body. The center also trains children in self-defense, tying their lessons into school to raise grades and impart nonviolent antibullying techniques, such as calling a playground summit.
From within Ding Dong Dang’s variously sized private rooms, drifts the sounds of singers living out vocal dreams previously unleashed exclusively in the safety of the car or shower. As crooners belt out popular songs or fill in forgotten lyrics with their social security numbers, the bar concocts drinks to lubricate parched windpipes, drawing heavily upon the dulcet notes of a Korean liquor called soju. Against the soundtrack of newly proud singing and clinking glasses, dishes clatter against tables, laden with Asian options including breaded pork donkatsu, crisp popcorn chicken, and pingsu, a dessert that combines red beans, fruit, and ice.