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.
Anointed as one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2005, Moveable Feast's Deeply Fudgey brownies smother biters' bicuspids in moist, rich dark chocolate. The shop's husband-and-wife duo invented the recipe after hundreds of experiments, some of which resulted in mutant turtle-brownie hybrids who still slowly crawl the earth, surprising children at birthday parties and periodically bathing themselves in cups of milk.
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 décor. 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 crème brûlée 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.
True Italian meals require the entire family. So to make corralling kin easier, Sir Nick's Pizza prepares and delivers their Italian and American dishes straight to dining rooms. The chefs can stock deliveries with grinders topped with meatballs, family-sized portions of meat ravioli, and the house's pizzas. They customize pies with up to three ingredients, or serve specialty varieties such as the SOB with sausage, onion, and bacon atop a barbecue sauce. Chefs also fry a range of vegetables into dippable appetizers, creating fried potato skins, breaded mushrooms, and jalapeno poppers. They cap off their primary fare by making traditional Italian desserts such as cannoli or American favorites such as chocolate chip cheesecake—the first dessert to be argued over on the moon.
Behind John Dough Bakery's brick façade, a display case flush with pastries and shelves stacked with bread loaves volunteer ocular and aromatic reasons to sit and nosh. A lunchtime menu contains classic American sandwiches accompanied by pickle spears and kicked up with components such as fresh goat cheese. Half-soup, half-salad fusions sate indecisive eaters and Harvey Dents, and bite-size confections covered in chocolate or drizzled in icing satisfy sweet tooths.