Mindy Segal, a five-time nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef award, crafts contemporary American cuisine at her combination restaurant, dessert bar, and pastry shop. The restaurant’s foodsmiths aggressively pursue the best practices in cooking and plating, organizing ingredients in ways that accentuate texture, temperature, and taste. Fresh groceries sourced from farmers and Peter Rabbit’s knapsack become salads, such as beets with mixed greens, or sandwiches, such as the cheddar melt on pumpernickel. Entrees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner incorporate French ingredients and preparations while maintaining New-World flair. The restaurant’s namesake beverage—hot chocolate—comes in eight different styles, each crowned in housemade marshmallows and christened with steamed milk or coffee.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
In case of a zombie apocalypse, a few simple principles could be a survivor's salvation: Be prepared, be paranoid, and above all, run. Participants in the Infected Zombie 5K Trail Run get a chance to practice, and can play either living or dead as they navigate a woodland arena infested with walking, crawling, running, and climbing zombies. Some courses may challenge runners with additional obstacles, such as climbing walls, tire fields, and haystacks. Meanwhile, the zombies attempt to satisfy their hunger for fast food by surprising the runners and snatching flags off of their waists. Whether they've been caught, the living make up with the dead at the after-party, which features unlimited beer, award ceremonies, and live music.
Tressa Thomas has a résumé most performers would envy. She launched her career on stage with dozens of performances throughout Chicago as both a solo singer and band member. She landed a role in Robert Townsend’s film about 1960s R&B music, The Five Heartbeats, which led to a duet with the legendary Patti LaBelle on the film’s soundtrack.
This was all before Thomas turned 13.
Since then, her momentum hasn’t slowed—it’s just swerved in a few new directions. The Columbia College grad was cast in other movies (including Flatliners and Message in a Bottle), produced three independent shorts, and worked on a fourth that came just short of an Academy Award nomination. In the midst of her cinematic endeavors, she also pursued plus-sized modeling, eventually appearing in Ebony, Jet, the LA Times, and other national publications.
Given that she first started singing publicly at age three, when most children can’t yet tell the difference between music and the sound the vacuum cleaner makes, Thomas has never had an issue with confidence. But she realized that as a successful African-American, plus-sized female performer, she was a rarity. And so she decided to share her confidence with other women. She founded ThYck Troupe, a group that started modestly as a “modeling interest club” and grew into a nonprofit organization that creates performance opportunities for other plus-sized women.
Today, ThYck Troupe has gained the support of Secretary of State Jesse White and Governor Pat Quinn in its mission to enrich the Chicago arts community. In addition to mentoring young women and promoting size acceptance, the troupe produces an original web series, organizes fashion shows, and showcases performers in theatrical and musical productions. The company members represent nearly every medium of the creative arts—there are singers and dancers, poets and songwriters, models and actresses, journalists and radio personalities. With the Thyck and Fit Initiative, they broadcast a message of health as well as confidence, giving full-figured women and men the tools they need to achieve good exercise and nutrition habits at any size.
Spotlighted by local and national press including TimeOut Chicago, the Wall Street Journal, and Michigan Avenue Magazine, Randolph Street Market's collection of over 75 merchants shows off antique furnishings and vintage wearables from all over the world. Vintage dealers from across the country—including local favorites D. Brett Benson and Man in the Moon—stuff market stalls with men's and women's clothing, estate jewelry, and even vintage fashion magazines. Treasure hunters can investigate indoor booths to fill their closets with items from designers such as Hermes, Pucci, and Dior. In addition to apparel, Randolph Street Market also features hospitality areas brimming with gourmet chocolates, as well as cuisine and drinks from local eateries.