Flip Crêpes got its start on the Chicago Farmers Markets circuit in 2003, slinging its warm and sweet or savory treats to steadily growing flocks of customers. Eventually, the company outgrew its humble beginnings and expanded to a location inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center, where customers stop in for the crowd-pleasing crepes alongside a burgeoning roster of sandwiches and paninis. Four distinct menus address any and all cravings the day might present, including selections that tackle breakfast munchies with eggs and bacon, a passion for the savory with toasted options, salad cravings with fresh and crisp selections, and sweet teeth with desserts chock-full of Nutella, strawberries, and dulce de leche. The tender crepes will only wrap their eggy arms around healthy, high-quality ingredients, so the chefs avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other undesirable foodstuffs.
Pied Piper Parties & Playschool provides enriching play for children of all ages with active classes and themed events. Using her experience working at a Montessori preschool, Stephanie Williams oversees the youth playschool and camp, while colleague chef Janelle Rinehart leads hands-on cooking classes that introduce nutrition and discuss where dinner comes from and why it can never go back. Youth playschool helps children 5 months–3 years gain social skills with four progressive classes filled with music, art projects, and story time. In cooking classes, youths up to 10 years old prepare sweet and savory treats with supervised use of cooking equipment. Two-hour parties celebrate kids with custom themes ranging from dinosaurs to princesses, and include games, cake, and take-home gift bags.
Sometimes finicky eaters can become fascinated by food when they have a hand in making it themselves. The Kids' Table's proprietor Elena Marre discovered this with her own sons when they started helping her prepare meals. Eventually she took this idea and created her own family cooking school geared toward children aged 2–16.
During classes, kids prep produce at tot-sized countertops and sinks. They whisk together ingredients with tools calibrated to their little hands as they learn to appreciate varied flavors and textures apart from “plain” and “unslimey.” Parents can get in on the action by working alongside their tots during classes or by signing up to learn how to make baby food, create family meals, or please picky eaters.
Chef Naveen Sachar elucidates the fine art of Indian-fare preparation during a live BYOB cooking demonstration at Naveen’s Cuisine. Customers who opt for the demonstration-and-dinner night, held bimonthly, quickly find themselves enthralled by Naveen’s zest for northern-Indian delicacies as he chops and combines meats and vegetables before simmering them into sumptuous and spicy dishes. To enlighten and entertain his audience, the chef proffers extensive knowledge of Indian cuisine, cooking techniques, and terrifying anecdotes of mutinous kitchens throughout the demonstration. When the steaming entrees—be they masala, masoor dal, or murgh curry—announce their readiness by filling the room with their tantalizing aromas, patrons sit down to partake of a multiple-course dinner with their new comrades, allowing bottled drinks brought from home to lubricate conversation about the demonstration, their favorite dishes, and whether their esteemed chef might have an equally talented bachelor brother.
I Wish Lessons’ professionally guided classes convene in various venues throughout Chicago, Boston, DC, and Detroit, uniting and educating like-minded learners in vibrant social settings. The company’s hundreds of teachers have educated countless learners while introducing them to new friends and planning private events, including birthday parties and baby showers. Classes broach a multitude of engaging, lighthearted subjects, such as beer and bacon pairing, scotch tasting, cupcake decorating, and sushi rolling.
During her rotations as a pastry chef in culinary school, Uzma Sharif caught the eye of her head chef by drizzling chocolate with the same technique she used to decorate hands with henna. “You’re going to be a great success with that someday,” he predicted. The roots of her talents as a chocolatier go back even deeper, however. In Pakistan, her pastry-chef grandfather was well known for his delicate pink macaroons, and her mother and seven aunts each inherited their father’s baking skills. In January 2011, Uzma followed in her family members' footsteps, founding her own shop to purvey her hand-crafted chocolate creations as Chocolat Uzma Sharif.
These confections brim with unexpected ingredients, such as candied rose petals, Kashmiri chai, and cardamom, or glow with floral colors, such as the pinks and blues on the ombre butterflies that are Uzma's current favorite. The chocolatier handpicks the ingredients that go into her sweet creations, choosing all-natural, organic options when possible. Focused on perfecting a small selection of goods, she makes her chocolates in small batches and packages them in eco-friendly boxes she’s designed herself.
During chocolate classes at her Pilsen kitchen, Uzma teaches students about the origins of raw chocolate and the science behind making a bar with the right sheen and snap. Uzma also shares methods for choosing good chocolate from store shelves, starting with deciphering the percentages on the label and asking it whether it’s been naughty or nice.