Before moving to Chicago, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh began their culinary careers in New York as a way to support themselves while they looked for work as actors. It wasn’t their acting that brought the duo to stardom, however. Against odds of 10,000 to 1, they sent a tape into the Food Network and, to their surprise, became the first-ever winners of the Next Food Network Star contest, landing their own show on the cable channel. That success enabled them to grow their catering business’s small café into a full-fledged restaurant serving up brunch, lunch, and dinner.
"Our focus is on what we love, which is mid-century food and the American culture of dining, and that kind of collective memory we have . . . taking those recipes and updating them for a modern palate," Steve says. For example, they top sweet potatoes with black-thyme-pepper marshmallows and create corn dogs with rabbit sausage in red-velvet butter. Steve says that they love creating conversation at their tables, especially as guests reminisce about memories evoked by dishes such as tuna noodle casserole and their Hearty mac ‘n’ cheese. "For Dan and I, that's a major part of the dining experience," he says. "If we can get their heads moving as well as their mouths, we feel pretty successful." Their efforts have paid off. "The duo is making magic by keeping it simple," said Phil Vettel in a review on WGN. "There's at least one wow ingredient on every plate. A simple burger is brightened with triple-cream cambozola cheese, sugar-cured bacon, and garlic aioli. Bacon-wrapped shrimp arrives on a pile of wonderful white cheddar grits . . . It's fun and delicious."
Dan heads the kitchen, while Steve forges many of the signature cocktails, aiming to discourage the intimidation that often surrounds craft cocktails. He and Dan even authored a book whose 200+ drink recipes include every cocktail made at Hearty, proving that everyone can make the drinks at home. Steve's even been known to chat up tables in hopes of introducing them to a new drink. "It's amazing, the amount of people who don't think they drink gin—so I have to force them," Steve says. "Once you have a gin that is different than that gin that you drank in the 1980s that was so harsh and juniper-heavy, once you're having one of these new American gins along with just simple fresh citrus and the other spirits… you understand what the fuss is about." He's also curated an exclusively American wine list with bottles from unexpected sources—including Dr. Frank's Salmon Run rkatsiteli from the Finger Lakes in New York, which he calls "floral and highly acidic . . . Everybody loves it."
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number more than 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
On a trip to Chicago from his native Italy, young Mario Tricoci changed his life forever. The fledgling hairdresser stopped in at a prestigious salon, where he impressed the owner with his impeccable display of skill and landed himself a job. The next six decades brought strings of industry awards and the opening of his very own salon, which soon exploded into 26 locations in four states. With his styling prowess proven both to the industry and to the clients he encountered each day, the coiffeur decided to share his gift with others. In 2004, he established Tricoci University to foster a new generation of cosmetologists and spa technicians trained to thrive in the luxury-spa industry.
Throughout the Midwest, Tricoci prot?g?s study a rigorous curriculum in high-end salon and spa surroundings to learn how to create beautiful hairdos, choose skin-flattering cosmetics, and beautify nails and skin. A team of experienced industry professionals readies pupils for the beauty world with in-depth classes, and outside education arrives via video demonstrations and guest-artist lectures on Vidal Sassoon's Wedge-Bob Postulate. More advanced students get a preview of their career to come by beautifying real people during instructor-supervised treatments, which lend the stylist essential experience as the client enjoys a pampering session at a discounted rate.
Legendary Excursions’ wheelmen demonstrate the tactics necessary for navigating unpaved environments and install adrenaline-hungry guests inside a 190-horsepower, 4-speed manual-transmission Baja 1000–style off-road racing car. During the Ride Along Adventure, patrons ride shotgun as a professional driver steers them through three laps on a tricky, 6.3-mile off-road course at race-like speeds, navigating tough terrain and catching air on jumps. Experts kick-start the Taste of Baja Adventure by honing fear-conquering clients' driving skills and dressing them in racing helmets and other appropriate gear. Once suited up, racers will be formally introduced to their trusty motor-steed, learning all about its controls, safety equipment, and ticklish spots before having their picture taken with it. Adventurers then spend three laps traversing the baja track's jumps, sweeping turns and rough terrain, letting the colossal BFGoodrich tires create swirling dust formations and spew out perfectly cooked mud pies.
Jill Dailey McIntosh has always been intrigued by the human body and how it moves—so much so that she graduated in 1991 with a kinesiology degree and soon thereafter decided to open her own Pilates teaching studio. But it wasn't until years later that this curiosity would manifest itself in a single question: "How can one aggressively transform the shape of their body while still maintaining proper alignment of the spine?" Eventually Jill began to examine her diverse fitness background, pulling low-impact movements from ballet, Pilates, and even orthopedic-exercise routines to create the basis for her fitness style, The Dailey Method.
Now, more than a decade later, Dailey's fitness routine has ballooned into studios sprawled across more than 10 states and gained praise from Self, Allure, FitPregnancy, and InStyle magazines. Regardless of the location, instructors remain true to Jill's mission of offering a diverse series of exercises that focus on toning and lengthening the body while lengthening the spine and building strong core muscles.
Colleen Patrino completed her master teacher certification studies under the direction of Jill Dailey McIntosh, and she brought the technique to Naperville, founding The Dailey Method's first location in Illinois. Shortly after opening, Colleen met Michelle Waranoski—a fitness enthusiast with more than 15 years of ballet training and Pilates teacher certification—and the duo became partners, eventually expanding with a second location in Wheaton. These two studios still embrace Jill's original vision for The Dailey Method, although each location also caters to its attendees' needs with amenities such as spa-like locker rooms, onsite childcare, and horse-hitching posts in the parking lot.
Less than 90 minutes from St. Louis, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum houses the world’s largest collection of original Lincoln artifacts, complete with the Gettysburg Address. A life-size replica of Lincoln’s log cabin set back in a forest of artificial trees stands 40 feet tall just like the President’s iconic top hat. The museum also houses a re-creation of the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where the president was assassinated, and the state-of-the-art Union Theater, which projects films such as Lincoln’s Eyes, a broad overview of Lincoln’s personal and political life with a special focus on slavery. In the Ghosts of the Library exhibit, transparent phantoms of Lincoln and his contemporaries drift around powered by Holavision technology. Youngsters, supervised by parents, can try on period dress, pose for photos with life-size cutouts of young Abe, or reenact historic scenes in the Lincoln Home dollhouse located in Mrs. Lincoln’s attic, the hands-on learning center. Before heading home, patrons can browse the museum store—more than 3,500 square feet of artifact replicas and Lincoln-themed merchandise.