Once a month Elysabeth Alfano of Fear no ART Chicago hosts a “Dinner Party” at City Winery Chicago. At each dinner party, Elysabeth invites three Chicago or national celebs, usually creative-types, to a dinner created by a guest chef and attended by a live audience. The show is live-streamed on the “Splash” section of the SunTimes.com and on WindyCityTimes.com; tickets are only $40 for large tastings of the chef’s appetizer and entrées, a wine pairing from City Winery, Voss Artesian Water from Norway and Vosges Chocolate. Viewers can participate in the show via Twitter by asking guests questions and winning prizes if their tweet is asked on stage!
At the dinner party I attended, Chef Sean Pharr of NoMi Kitchen cooked for Lin Brehmer, the longtime WXRT radio personality since 1991, Nick Bowling founding artistic director of Timeline Theatre, and Candace Jordan, society blogger and well known Chicago socialite. The show opened with Hubbard Street 2 performing a modern dance number that captivated the audience and set the stage for a great night.
All of the "Dinner Party" guests were very chatty and engaging; I loved hearing all the great Chicago gossip and cultural news currently happening around the city. Soon after the dinner party began our appetizers started arriving at the tables…duck confit rillettes with French prune mustard and country toast. The duck confit was prepared with duck fat, shallots, parsley, chives, salt & pepper and was absolutely delicious. The duck was packed tightly while still keeping the pieces discernible. I loved that the grilled bread and the French prune mustard spread made it a full appetizer portion, which was a pleasant surprise.
One of my favorite parts of the evening was hearing Lin and Candace talk about their favorite and not so favorite celebrities they’ve interacted with over the years. They had some really great stories and juicy nuggets that the celebrity's publicists probably wished they could defend! I love that the audience got to participate as well via Twitter. Via Twitter, I asked Chef Sean when he realized that food/cooking could be its own form of art. He replied by saying his moment was when he was cooking under another Chef at a pizzeria. One evening he was out foraging for kale in the parking lot to put together in these beautiful salads, and at that moment he realized he was part of something uniquely artistic.
You could certainly tell he put a lot of thought and presentation into his food when our entrées arrived. Pork shoulder cotechino, good mother stallard beans, collard greens and Chef Grandma’s chow-chow. The entrée portion looked beautiful and the pork shoulder fell apart as soon as it touched my fork. My favorite part of the entrée portion was probably the beans, they were meaty, filling and delicious. The chow-chow, added a little bit of sweet and sour to the dish as well which really brought everything together.
Overall my first experience at the dinner party was fantastic. I had a chance to eat good food, see a live show, and hang out with new friends. This is an event I would attend again, and in my opinion would make a fantastic date. The price is definitely right for what could be considered a two-course meal with a wine pairing, and the chance to hear from Chicago or national celebrities as well.
This month the dinner party returns to City Winery Chicago on September 16th where NBC’s “Chicago Fire” and “Sex and the City” star, David Eigenberg, Artistic Director of The Goodman Theatre, Robert Falls and Second City’s Katie Rich join Elysabeth for dinner. The opening act is pop singer Yemi Marie. Chef Jason Vincent, voted one of Food and Wines best chefs for 2013, makes dinner for not only the stars but the audience too. Don't miss out!