Chefs Pina and Ed of Pina's Culinary Experience bestow their edible expertise on studious suppersmiths week after week in their elephantine kitchen and Mediterranean-style dining room. This year's third-quarter and fourth-quarter syllabi feature the ever-popular tapas class (Wednesday, July 13 and Friday, July 22), which fills up quickly as pupils crowd to assemble a jigsaw puzzle of small plates such as andalusian shrimp fritters and moules marinara. Chefs learn the secrets of cooking quick meals with ingredients easily at hand on Wednesday, August 24 and Wednesday, August 31, fixing under-30-minute delicacies that far surpass slapping together a sandwich or microwaving some ice cream. Students over age 21 are welcome to bring their own wine or alcohol to complement the feast of munchable masterpieces held at the end of each session, and all will be sent home with doggie bags of any leftovers in the hopes of inspiring pets to finally start cooking for themselves.
La Blondina Bakery's confection-crafting owner, Agnieszka Klepacki, pleases palates of all persuasions with café-style lunches and delectable desserts. Tarts tickle tongue buds with a choice of blueberry, pear, or almond filling ($14 for 8”; $16 for 9”; $18 for 10”), and chocolate-chip cookies ($1.50) and cupcakes ($1.50) furnish guests with bite-sized snacks for bribing hyperactive children or bosses. In addition to sweets, the expert bakers handcraft artisan breads from scratch, filling the store with the alluring scent of french bread ($2.49) and beer bread ($2.49). Sandwiches quell more substantial appetites with toothsome toppings such as roasted veggies, turkey, and italian meats ($4.95).
Atmosphere is an essential part of fine dining. Crowds frequent five-star restaurants not only for their food, but also for the mood created by their d?cor. That's why in-home chef service Cooks For Your Kitchen brings a posh atmosphere to their patrons' homes in addition to their cooking utensils and groceries. Linens, china, silverware, and stemware decorate tabletops, where candles flicker and fresh flowers waft fragrances that please loved ones or pet bumblebees. Four-course dinners revolve around entrees such as chicken lemonata or lobster in creamy champagne sauce, and finish with rich desserts such as cr?me br?l?e or tiramisu. All aspects of each meal are made fresh on the spot and can be altered to accommodate vegetarian diets or food allergies. Alternatively, chefs can entertain groups with a dinner party, cooking lessons, and movie nights, where chefs show up to homes with a DVD and movie-night snacks, such as flatbread pizzas and root-beer floats.
Before they were moms with six children between them, Simply Homemade owners Cindy and Stephanie were food-industry professionals, studying nutrition and food-product development. Now, they've combined both experiences to create a company that supplies healthy, handcrafted meals to busy families. Working off of a monthly menu of 22 entrees, the duo whips up mouthwatering pastas, burgers, and kebabs chock-full of whole grains, hand-trimmed chicken, and natural beef from Heartland Meats. Then, they either preassemble meals for customers to pick up or set up ingredients for customers to assemble themselves onsite. The latter option, which takes about two hours, makes it easier for customers to tailor dinners to a child's love of mushrooms or a dog's disdain for cilantro.
The only thing better than tailgating with friends is tailgating with professional football players. At Corporate Tailgate, partygoers have the chance to toast and mingle with former Chicago Bears players during celebratory pre-game festivities held in the sprawling Adler Planetarium lot. As attendees trade game stats and toss around football-shaped watermelons, they can also savor chef-made meals and dance to tunes spun by a live DJ.