A Chicago Thing

Cocktails w/ Chicago Bears' Rashied Davis & Teammates for Education at Rockit!

Fans of the Bears, helping the community, Education, great food & drink, meeting amazing people... This event is for you!!!  Chicago Bears' Rashied Davis has supported my philanthropic events for art, theatre, feeding poor.. for years.. and I am honored to help him get the word out about how his huge heart has taken it to the next level by hosting his own huge party for a wonderful cause on Tuesday May 17th from 6-8p at Rockit Bar & Grill (22 W. Hubbard)!

This amazing event will support Rashied Davis Charities' efforts to "teach students how to overcome obstacles to success through inspiration, preparation and discipline." They help empower the fundamentals of reading, writing and speech to underserved kids teaching them how to apply tools to problem solve, communicate properly and just be an all around contributing member of society. I'm fully on board w/their mission, I have often talked about how communication leads to relationship building which leads to personal growth and opportunities.. And I'm always behind a fun time to help accomplish all of that!

So join us May 17th!  You can mingle with a bunch of Chicago Bears like Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Anthony Adams, Jerry Azumah, Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox... different local celebrities, media, and all around fun supporters from everywhere who just care like you... cocktails, appetizers, silent auction & more... Get your tickets now: http://rashieddavischarities.org/homepage.aspx and I'll see you there!

"Bangkok Food Tours" Company inspired as tourists in Chicago!

Many who follow me on Twitter & Facebook ask me how I navigated my culinary research and development tour through South East Asia last month so I thought I would feature one of the companies that helped me out in this lil fun video. "Bangkok Food Tours!" They actually began interacting with me on Twitter long before we met in person just expressing appreciation for the foodporn I tend to share often (haha, see people like it)!

I let them know I was coming through Thailand after Cambodia & Laos, they offered to take me around the local eating scene in Bangkok, and bam- it was awesome- loved it- shared all on my Blog/Twitter/Facebook... And everyone freaked out! Click here if missed pics! Also of interest, this quick video I shot on the fly also reveals that this young dynamic duo, passionate about food & their culture, found inspiration to start their company after a food tour trip they caught in Chicago! Yup, they even took a class in Chicago on how to set up a great food tour company and brought it home to start a Thai phenomenon!

Please share this video celebrating how our worlds connect through social media, food & culture... And get out there and visit them!!! For more info checkout www.BangkokFoodTours.com, and follow them on Twitter & Facebook! Oh, and here's just an example of some of the dishes at some of the restaurants I tried on a quick but hearty couple hour walking/eating tour with them while in Bangkok last month:

  1. Chareon Wieng - Traditional Roasted Duck Served on Rice
  2. Muslim Restaurant - Curry on Egg, Beef Satay
  3. Café de Laos - freshy stream fish wrapped in betel leat, fried squid stuff with minced pork
  4. Yen Ta Po Wat Kak - Authentic Thai Yen Ta Po noodle
  5. Kallaprapruk - Original Curry Served on Roti, Thai-Style Coconut Ice-cream

Loved it!!!!!

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Chicago Actor Joe Mantegna Honored with a Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame

Big congrats to my good buddy, and Chicago native, Joe Mantegna who will be forever immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this Friday April 29th! I've not only had the pleasure of interviewing Joe about his deep love for Chicago in this Olympic video above, but through dinner with him & his wife, visits to his set, time with his fam, phone calls, tweets (haha)... I have not only come to understand that he is an outstanding actor, producer, and writer... But I have found him to be one of the most interesting, honorable, sweet, smart, passionate, cool... human beings I've ever met.. And I mean that.

Newer fans may know Joe Mantegna from starring in the hit TV show Criminal Minds, but Joe has had roles in over 100 films and tv shows in his 40 years of show business, notably Godfather III, The Rat Pack, the voice of Fat Tony in the Simpsons, Three Amigos, Up Close & Personal, and Forget Paris. Mantegna received Emmy Award nominations in The Last Don, The Rat Pack, and The Starter Wife.

My fav stories are when Joe tells me about his theater background. He made his Broadway debut in Stephen Schwartz's Working. He was awarded a Tony and Joseph Jefferson for his performance as a cynical real-estate agent in David Mamet's (who will be doing Joe's induction during the ceremony) play Glengarry Glen Ross. He went on to star in many more productions including A Life in the Theater, The Disappearance of the Jews, and Speed the Plow. Mantegna also co-wrote the Emmy Award Winning Bleacher Bums, which was inspired from his countless days spent at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs play which was then turned into a made-for-TV- movie in 2002. Joe , you are truly a Chicago Thing... And we appreciate you!!!!!!!!!

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Lollapalooza 2011 Lineup Announced!

As you know we throw the hottest parties in the city for Lollapalooza. In the past we've done performances by Katy Perry, Kanye West, Perry Farrell, Mickey Avalon, Snow Patrol, Kenna, Mike Posner & many more! We will be releasing our party info soon, but in the meantime wanted to share the lineup for the 20th anniversary of Lollapalooza...

Eminem Foo Fighters Coldplay Muse My Morning Jacket Deadmau5 A Perfect Circle Cee Lo Green Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley & Nas The Cars Ween Bright Eyes Arctic Monkeys Big Audio Dynamite Deftones Beirut Explosions in the Sky Death From Above 1979 Ratatat Crystal Castles Flogging Molly Atmosphere Cold War Kids Lykke Li Cage the Elephant OK Go Local Natives The Kills White Lies Portugal.The Man Two Door Cinema Club Ellie Goulding Delta Spirit Beats Antique The Mountain Goats Sleigh Bells Manchester Orchestra Smith Westerns Best Coast Grace Potter & the Nocturnals The Drums Black Lips Fitz & The Tantrums The Pains of Being Pure at Heart City and Colour Cults Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses Noah & The Whale Sam Adams J. Roddy Walton And The Business Tinie Tempah Lissie Dom The Vaccines Foster the People Titus Andronicus Mayer Hawthorne & the County Chico Trujillo The Naked and Famous Phantogram Rival Schools Friendly Fires Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Reptar Maps & Atlases Fences Tennis An Horse Young The Giant Los Bunkers Imelda May Grouplove Wye Oak The Joy Formidable Lord Huron Disappears Walk the Moon Gold Motel Iration Ryan Leslie TAB the Band Skylar Grey Christina Perri Black Cards The Pretty Reckless Boy & Bear Patrick Stump Kids These Days Young Man The Kingston Springs Lia Ices The Chain Gang of 1974 Ximena Sariñana Typhoon Electric Touch Kerli Ruby Jane Julia Easterlin DJ Mel

Perry Stage:

Girl Talk Pretty Lights KiD CuDi The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 1977 Afrojack Modeselektor Skrillex PerryEtty vs Chris Cox Chuckie The Glitch Mob Busy P Joachim Garraud Super Mash Bros. Jay Electronica 12th Planet Daedulus Feed Me Jackmaster Collie Buddz Savoy Kyle Lucas & Captain Midnite Ana Tijoux Midnight Conspiracy L1ght Lady D

Lineup courtesy of lollapalooza.com

Harley Helping Hands for Cancer at Galleria Marchetti

Thanks to all who connect with me on Twitter and Facebook about amazing events around town- especially about foundations and organizations focused on raising funds and awareness for good causes, like the following event to fight cancer..

Harley Helping Hands was established in 2009 and inspired by Kit Harley who lost a 3 year battle against brain cancer last year. It was his courageous fight that was the driving force to create HHH and this Friday, April 29th, can be your opportunity to join the fight. Harley Helping Hands 2nd Annual Spring Fundraiser is taking place at Galleria Marchetti - 825 W Erie from 7-11pm. There will be dinner, dancing and a great silent auction to boot - featuring sports, electronics travel, spa, shopping goodies and more. To learn more about HHH and to attend this event - check out www.harleyhelpinghands.com.

Meet Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods!"

From dung beetles and rotten fish to fertilized duck eggs and brain tacos, we've watched Andrew Zimmern freak us out eating unthinkable things we didn't even know existed on Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods!" But let me tell you from a personal relationship, he is far more than just able to shock & excite. He's worldly, intelligent, entertaining, magnetic, funny and well versed in all things culinary & culture- and I really think you should meet him while he is in town next week!

So you know, I also am an Andrew fan in part because he is a huge fan of Chicago, calling us "America's Greatest Food City" when I interviewed him for the olympics, and recently came to chicago to do a show just on us, actually inviting me to join him when eating & filming from chicago's southside (See video above). Also, how cool of a friend is he to invite a Chicagoan like me to come with him to eat & film in Namibia - will never forget it.

Anyway, I can't say enough about him, but that you should check him out next Thursday, April 28th, when he's speaking at Harper College in Palatine, IL. If you can. He'll be talking about how foods can be key to a culture's sustainability & more! Click here for tickets & info, or call (847) 925-6100.

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Chicago's First Annual Red Dress Party to create awareness & visibility for dedicated research and care of HIV Patients!

Hey all- Amanda Weir here, Billy's intern, posting this story on an amazing Charity event next week:

April is the month of red! Chicago's First Annual Red Dress Party is a national event that draws over 800 to create awareness and visibility for dedicated research and care of HIV patients. The Chicago Red is honored to have the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Equality Project as the official beneficiaries-BUT! There is one requirement- ALL MUST WEAR RED! Everyone is encouraged to attend wearing a red dress- men are invited to join in the fun!

AFC was founded in 1985 by activists and physicians to develop and improve services, fund and coordinate prevention, care, advocacy projects and champion, compassionate policies. Equality Project was founded in 2008 to create social interactions that focus on advocacy. In 2009, they relocated to Chicago. EQPR is proud to have helped organizations and individuals including Equal Rights Washington, Gay City Health Project and State Senator Ed Murray.

The Red Dress Party takes place April 16, 2011 from 8:30 p.m.- 2:00 am at 525 W Monroe Street. Tickets for VIP Exclusives are $1000, VIP- $150 and General Admission are $80

More info here

Former Bravo Houswife Dina Manzo's Project Ladybug in Chicago for the first time!

Hey all- Feeny Fernandez here, posting this story about a great charity event this Thursday.

There are so many people out there who are affected by cancer yet are the strongest fighters out there. One of them is Chicago mother Laura Lutarewych and her daughter, Atia.

Laura was diagnosed with stage IIIb melanoma in 2005, which is just before the fourth and final (and terminal) stage of skin cancer. She had her daughter, Atia, a few years after her diagnosis, and at 17 months old Atia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Just this past December, Laura launched Atia's Project Ladybug Fund at Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago. Project ladybug is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving financial and emotional support to families to help ease the struggle of childhood cancer that was founded by Dina Manzo, a former star on Bravo's The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

To help kick off the launch of Atia's Project Ladybug Fund, Laura, Dina, and Project Ladybug will be hosting the first ever Ladybug Bash this Thursday, April 7th, from 7-11pm at the Grossinger City Autoplex on 1530 N Dayton. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased here.

Chicago's Ladybug Bash will be the first fundraiser of its kind. The theme is treads and threads, so there will be a showcase of Chicago fashion (with a presentation by design house Akira, an art gallery, ballroom dance demos, delicious food tasting from over 15 of Chicago's top restaurants, and a mancave/"pit stop" with interactive games, technology, and music. AND the first 500 people to purchase tickets get Ladybug Bash swag!

If you can't make it to this fun event, you can donate to Project Ladybug here.


Just as I landed in South East Asia, the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan (where I was supposed to land shortly after). Upon seeing the immediate destruction on twitter, I knew I needed to somehow help the victims upon my return, where I figured I could do the most good. Simultaneously, an overwhelming amount of requests from my kind & generous facebook & twitter friends asked that I put together an impactful event that they too can join, so that we can all help the victims of this tragedy together.

As I made my way home, I strategized with my Sunda business partner Aeron Lancero who took immediate initiative working with the Japanese Consulate on our behalf, along with many other Asian American Community organizations, to form an "Alliance" with our Sunda & Rockit Ranch team, to create an event that would benefit one of the top charities in the U.S., that donates 100% of its proceeds directly to the cause. The organization we chose is Direct Relief International, our event will be held on Friday, April 15th at Sunda, and we will feature a cocktail reception with passed hors d'oeuvres followed by a four-course seated dinner with live performances by JASC Tsukasa Japanese Taiko drummers, Classical Japanese dance and Japanese folk music.

Hopefully you can tell we are going all out to make a major contribution here. To do so, we need to all be a part of this alliance and do whatever we each can, as best we can. Tickets to our event are available here. Most important, whether attending or not, if you could be good enough to spread this info (full press release below) to all the people, sites, press, bloggers, twitter & facebook friends, family, office mates... Anyone else you can think of, you too will be helping all greatly. Thank you so much!

For Immediate Release:

ASIAN COMMUNITY FORMS ALLIANCE WITH ROCKIT RANCH PRODUCTIONS TO HOST 'HELP JAPAN FUNDRAISER' AT SUNDA 100 % of Proceeds support Direct Relief International, a relief fund for victims of the recent national tragedies in Japan

CHICAGO -Sunda, located at 110 West Illinois Street, will host a fundraising dinner for Direct Relief International, directly benefitting the recent earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. Direct Relief International, one of the top rated charities in the United States, is currently coordinating support for relief and recovery efforts in high-level emergency consultations with Japanese organizations, business leaders, and government officials.

The event, to be held on Friday, April 15th, will feature a cocktail reception with passed hors d'oeuvres starting at 6:00pm followed by a four-course seated dinner. Dinner will be accompanied by live performances that include JASC Tsukasa Japanese Taiko drummers, Classical Japanese dance by Fujima Shunojo and Fujima Yoshinojo, and Japanese Minyo (folk music) by Yoko Noge with shamisen accompaniment by Tatsu Aoki. Also during dinner, members of the associated groups and Direct Relief will be showcasing their current efforts to provide relief to the people of Japan.

The cost per ticket is $150 but will also be accepting in kind donations and sponsorships. Tickets can be purchased at sundachicago.com. In addition, there will be a silent auction of an array of gifts donated by many members of the Chicago community. 100% of all proceeds will go to the relief fund that aids efforts to help Japan recover from the natural disaster.

Organizations of the alliance to 'Help Japan' include JACL (Japanese American Citizens League), JASC (Japanese American Service Committee) and The FAN (Filipino American Network). Event Co-Hosts include KABA (Korean American Bar Association), IABA (Indian American Bar Association), AABA (Asian American Bar Association) and OCA (Organization of Chinese Americans).

For more information or reservations contact Jamie Weil via email at Jamie@rockitranch.com or via telephone at 310-270-3054.

About Sunda

Chicago'scomfortably stylish New Asian restaurant serving contemporary interpretations of traditional dishes from Japan, China and the Southeast Asian Island region,is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight and on Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Valet parking is available during all hours of operation. For more information or reservations, please call (312) 644-0500 or visit www.sundachicago.com.

About Direct Relief International

Direct Relief International is California's largest medical relief organization, active in all 50 states and 70 countries. It works with more than 1,000 health clinics across the U.S. to assist in emergencies and an ongoing basis, providing them with free medications for people in need. Direct Relief is among the largest medical suppliers to Haiti in response to the 2010 earthquake. For more information, please go to www.directrelief.org.

About Rockit Ranch Productions

Rockit Ranch Productions is Chicago's premier restaurant and entertainment development company, specializing in the creation, marketing and management of some of the city's top venues including the New Asian restaurant Sunda, as well as the The Underground and the ever-popular Rockit Bar & Grill (with locations in River North and Wrigleyville). For more information, please go to http://www.rockitranch.com/.


About Japanese American Citizens League

"The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is the nation's oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, with 112 chapters across the United States and a chapter in Japan. The JACL's ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry."

Direct Relief International has collaboratedwith the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) to support relief and recovery efforts in Japan through the formation of the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund. 100% of funds donated to the Japan Relief and RecoveryFund, which will be managed by Direct Relief International, will be dedicated exclusively to relief and recovery efforts in Japan. For more information, please go to www.jaclchicago.org.

About Japanese American Service Committee

Established in 1946, the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) is currently providing support groups and counseling for individuals traumatized by the devastation in Japan. The JASC also provides a vast array of psychosocial programs with special expertise in culturally and linguistically-sensitive services not widely available in other traditional care settings. In addition, the JASC offers programs, classes and events that not only preserve the culture, history and legacy of Japanese Americans, but also keeps them living, developing and relevant in today's contemporary culture. For more information, go to www.jasc-chicago.org.

About The Filipino American Network (FAN)

The FAN is a Chicago-based cultural education networking 501( c ) 3 organization focused on engaging and reconnecting Filipino-Americans with their Philippine culture and traditions through events and opportunities that include monthly mixers and our annual events such asAdobofest, The Chicago Filipino-American Film Festival, Senior Gift Basket Drive and the Passport to the Philippines at the Children's museum at Navy Pier. For more information, please go to www.fan-chicago.org

Billy Dec cambodia, vietnam, laos, thailand & hong kong 2011 travel / food pictures!

I'm back from exploring South East Asia! After so much amazing feedback from my pictures on Twitter & Facebook, I wanted to accommodate requests to share my pics here as well- enjoy! Not only will you see that I returned again to do a tremendous amount of new food research & development, but you will more so feel how blown away I was by the amazing the people, nature, temples, beauty, animals, culture, & experiences!

I encourage you all to please visit that area of the world as soon as possible while some of what moved me most remains relatively untouched. And please share this link, these pictures,.. with your friends & family so they too can see what its all about! Big shoutout to Kipling & Clark for their excellent planning help! Along with all the amazing hotels, accommodations & tours that you will see noted in the pictures here

And for all those who have missed out on my adventures, and want to be connected with me for all that is to come, click and follow me here: www.facebook.com/BillyDec & www.twitter.com/BillyDec

View my pictures here!


Remember when I hosted that amazing 2000 person event for President Obama in 2008? Well, we are kicking off a new campaign, and we want you to join us again! Please join me as I Co-Chair a wonderful Chicago event with President Obama at a fundraising kickoff for supporters like you! Be there on April 14, 2011 at 7p, at Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom (600 E. Grand Ave.)! For tix and info: http://tinyurl.com/Obama2012Chi

I will send you updates as I receive them on www.facebook.com/BillyDec & www.twitter.com/BillyDec (so click & follow me!)

Artists Central Exchange: Chicago's Local Artist Co-Op & Community Center

Hey everyone! This is Feeny Fernandez here from Billy's office. I want to tell you guys about this awesome organization and space in Chicago that we had the opportunity to visit a few days ago!

Whether you're in downtown or Uptown, you can see that part of what makes up Chicago is its amazing art and artists. One organization in Chicago is helping give local artists a place to come together: the Artist Central Exchange (A.C.E.). We got to meet with John Burks, the A.C.E.'s creative director, and check out the space. The first time we met John was actually back in January when we were filming Billy's 2 Year Anniversary for aChicagoThing.com party invite video. He didn't make the cut in the video (sorry, John!), but we did him one even better: sharing with you all about the A.C.E.!

The Artist Central Exchange an artists co-op and community events center, John let us check out the space they have in Uptown/Andersonville for artists to showcase their work -- even the floor is artwork! Check out the video above to see pictures of their hand-painted purple brick floor!

The A.C.E.'s mission is to "provide the community with a forum to express their minds and creativity in an open and free manner" by providing gallery space for local artists to showcase and sell their art and a space for performance art and art classes. Classes aren't only for adults either; the A.C.E. hosts two youth classes as well (youth classes start April 30th and you can register here).

They also have two upcoming monthly events that start this April. Detroit Nation starts Saturday, April 9th and will line the walls of the A.C.E. with art and energy from Detroit and Michigan expats who are dedicated to improving the flow of funds, ideas, and energy between native Detroiters living all over the country. The Prop-IGVP Event starts Friday, April 15th, and will showcase that we CAN use and interact with media responsibly and in a way that reflects the better parts of humanity.

If you're interested in working with the A.C.E. or know someone who is, you can contact John at john@artcx.com or check out their website www.artcx.com or on Twitter @ACEChicago.

Check out Amy's interview with John about how the A.C.E. came about, his thoughts on the art among Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, and even get a peek at some of the A.C.E. artists' work!

Interview with Jerry Bryant of JBTV!

Hey all! Amy Shah here from Billy's office sharing this story on JBTV. A few month back, Rockit Wrigley hosted a panel of social media experts including Jerry Bryant, the founder of JBTV. Our interactive marketing coordinator, Tim Toomey, had the chance to interview the dynamic Jerry Bryant- check it out!

Since 1984, JBTV, the music TV show based out of Chicago has been featuring exclusive interviews, music videos, and live performances and is Chicago's longest-running music television show.

As the host of the show, Jerry has aired over 3,600 weekly one-hour episodes that have helped local bands reach national level as well as featuring already well-known artists. Some notable musicians making appearances on the show include Fall Out Boy, the Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day & Pearl Jam.

With over 4,000 hours of original content and an audience of 11 million, it's no wonder the show has won multiple Emmy awards & two Billboard Music Video Awards for "Best Local/Regional Alternative Modern Rock Show."

JBTV airs new episodes weekly. Check out their site for more info!

Loul Deng Foundation : "Game and Give"

Hi aChicagoThing readers! Lesley De Leon, from Billy Dec's office here. I'd like to take this opportunity to share a very cool event : How cool is it that The Bulls are currently in first place? And speaking of the Bulls, how would you like to try your hand at an Xbox tournament with some of the Bulls players? Loul Deng is hosting "Game and Give" Charity Xbox tournament on Sunday April 3rd, at Joy of the Game in Deerfield from 12-4pm. Come out and show your video game skills in the FIFA Soccer 2011 or NBA 2K11, all for a good cause.


Even if you're not a video game player, there are plenty of other fun activities with interactive games, music by DJ Sye Young, local restaurant fare, a silent auction, an appearance by Benny the Bull, special musical guest, and photo opportunities with Luol Deng and his teammates. It will be a great day for Bulls fans and video game lovers of all ages! For more information - http://luoldengfoundation.eventbrite.com/


The Loul Deng Foundation strives to provide hope to all the refugee's returning to Southern Sudan through education and sports/recreation. Each year the Luol Deng Foundation hosts many great events to give back to children in the Chicago area, but the main goal for the future is to build 5 schools and 10 sport courts in Luol's native country, Sudan Africa. He is passionate about giving back to the boys and girls of Sudan. Learn more at http://theluoldengfoundation.org/

March Madness Benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago

Good morning readers! Katie Rose here again - March Madness is finally here and what would this month be without a party at Rockit to celebrate and give thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago. Big Brothers Big Sisters has become a cornerstone of community service to help youth mentoring programs. They have made more than 20,000 one-to-one mentoring matches since 1967, with around 3 million hours of contact between "Bigs" ( mentors) and "Littles" (mentees).

Come celebrate on Sunday, March 27 from 4-6 p.m at Rockit Bar and Grill (22 W. Hubbard) with cocktails, appetizers and a variety of raffle prizes including one night stay at The Wit Hotel, Signed basketballs from Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, East Bank Club membership, Akira certificates, tickets to Cubs and Joeffrey Ballet and dozens of other goodies!

Ticket prices are $35 for individuals, 5 ticket pack for $125 or 8 ticket VIP booth for $400 for more information visit www.bbbschgo.org.

Interview with Natalie Slater of Bake & Destroy!

Hi all! This is Amy Shah from Billy's office posting this story while he is gone traveling in Asia (check out his awesome pics documenting his travels on facebook & twitter!). I thought it would be cool to share this story about Natalie Slater of Bake & Destroy. I met Natalie a few months back when Rockit Wrigley hosted a Rocker Tweetup with experts in social media and what it takes to incorporate rock & roll in your business.

Natalie caught my attention as soon as I read her motto: "The world is your cupcake dudes! So make it rad!" I was so interested to hear her story & learned that Natalie has a love for two things: baking and punk/metal music. What I admire most about Natalie is that she breaks through any stereotypes & follows her passion to create something totally unique & true to who she is. Natalie's blog, Bake & Destroy, hosts numerous, highly creative recipes (inspired from punk/metal music), an online shop (w/ awesome vintage pieces & bake and destroy items), and gives readers an insight to her personal life & organizations she is passionate about. She doesn't usually sell any of her baked goods- she has a 9-5 job, is the mother of an adorable boy Teno (who she recently started a completely different blog on, Teno Destructo), and a loving wife- but instead uses her blog as a forum to communicate with her fans & encourage them to create recipes that are their own. In addition to hosting her blog, she has been a judge on the Food Network's pilot for Cupcake Wars, a regular on Chicago Tonight & has been featured in many magazines.

Natalie has used the power of social media to connect with her fans & enhance her brand while staying true to her passions- check out my interview above with Natalie to learn more about her brand & advice she has for new bloggers- she truly is rad!

AND, make sure to pick up a copy of Bust on March 29th- Natalie's whoopie pie recipe will be featured in the food issue!

Read Natalie's Blog: www.BakeandDestroy.net

Follow Natalie on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BakeandDestroy

Become a Fan on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BakeandDestroyFans

Ebert Presents "At The Movies"

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How school, classes, learning helped me & the Chicago Get MotivatED Challenge!!

I'm sitting at O'hare waiting for my flight to Asia (follow me on twitter & facebook to see what I do there!) realizing that recently I've been asked a lot of questions about how I got to this point, and how education, going back to school, taking classes, learning in general, has helped me along the way.

Well, long story short it's meant everything, but I don't want to go on about my life here (if really interested in my backstory here's a couple articles http://bit.ly/dXhtgL & http://bit.ly/gRxW5u), but I'd love to highlight a chicago education related program I just heard about that I think is super cool & will make a huge impact in many other lives!!!

It's about what the Get Schooled Foundation with AT&T, def jam raptor, and viacom is up to with the Get SchoolED challenge to get 25 schools in 11 cities across the u.s. (6 in Chicago!) to improve the attendance rates at their school. The schools in Chicago that are taking part are Chicago Academy High School, Collins Academy High School, Eric Solorio Academy High School, Kenwood Academy, Orr Academy High School, and Wendell Phillips Academy High School.

The school that shows the greatest improvement in their attendance rates over the five week period of February 14th to March 18th will receive college scholarship dollars for students, free access for every student for one year of official sat online courses, a new college-counseling library from the college board, and a visit to their school from a get schooled celebrity education ambassador! Get schooled has worked with celebrities like Trey Songs, Jesse McCartney, and Big Boi.

So how can we help? we can like the get schooled Facebook page and give shout outs to the schools in Chicago, have students submit a performance to the def Jam Rapstar video contest, or share a story about what or who motivated you to stay in school (you will see what motivated me in the articles above, I too need to share here). the challenge ends march 18th, so get your stories, votes, and students' submissions in!

You can find more information about the get schooled challenge here.

Laughing Hearts Comedy Night at stage 773 chicago!

After my improv performance at the iO a few weeks ago I've kind of been obsessed with chicago's world renowned & thriving improv and comedy scene! Today I'm keeping the laughter going with another amazing comedy event called "laughing hearts comedy night" tomorrow/wednesday, march 9 at 6:30p at stage 773 (1225 w belmont ave). Even better, 100% of the ticket proceeds go to the american heart association!

This event was shared with me by a facebook friend patricia true agos (thank you!), who's walked the chicago heart walk for the last seven years for her mom. her mom was the first person in her hometown to have open heart surgery... at the age of 15! doctors told her she would be unlikely to have children, but patricia is the youngest of five kids. her mom volunteered at the american heart association and coordinated many events on behalf of the aha and more charities until she passed away of heart attack in 2003. since 2004, patricia has raised nearly $13,000 but wanted to do something more. as a graduate of the second city conservatory, she loves to laugh and make people laugh, and with those passions "laughing hearts comedy night" was born.

performers include pastor dave of the best church of god, off off broadzway, the union, the tim & micah project, henrietta pussycat, and more. there's also gonna be a silent auction with awesome items like chelsea handler autographed books, blackhawks pucks signed by jonathan toews and patrick kane, an adult class at the second city training center, tickets to several chicago theaters, and so much more. check out her site for tix & info, and go! it's good for the heart!

American Idol Contestant Chris Medina Represents Chicago Well!

You're Going to Hollywood!- That's what fellow Chicagoan Chris Medina (26) was told this season on American Idol after he sang The Script's "Breakeven." Chris blew up on the show when he also shared an emotional story of devastation about his fiancé who was put in a coma w/ severe injuries after a brutal car accident. He literally had Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson in tears when his fiancé, Juliana Ramos was brought into the audition room in her wheelchair, as Chris professed his love and commitment to stay w/her.

Chris was most recently passed up to advance on the show, but his story, character & heart made the world take note & care, and for that I believe he is a wonderful representation of our city & I wish him & Juliana all the best!

Chris wrote "What Has Become Of Me" during his visitation at Christ Hospital following her car accident. His band, The Able Body recorded a full version. Click here to donate to the Juliana Recovery Fund/Laurus Foundation. The Laurus Foundation was introduced to help advance the lives of individuals with disabilities by facilitating, collaborating, and partnering with other organizations to provide long-term solutions to meet lifetime needs.

From Improv to The Harvard Club of Chicago

Thank you to all who came to see me at improv olympic last night (see pic)! It was such a rush- the artists w/me on stage were so amazingly funny & talented- do not miss the next show I do there- or just go anytime as they always have mind blowing shows, and its a chicago institution to enjoy & support! Next up, tomorrow I speak to my fellow alumni at the harvard club of chicago!

The harvard club of chicago was founded in 1857, and is the oldest operating harvard club in the world. It's purpose is to promote the university, encourage social interaction & networking, and to make a contribution to chicago by giving out $30,000/yr in college scholarships, over $10,000/yr to community services, and much more.

What am I going to talk about having probably the lowest iq in the room? No idea... Guess i'll just have to Improv! For more info & to buy tixs click here!

Chicago Blackhawks Appreciation Night at Rockit Wrigley for my Social Media Friends!

Remember when I shared these personal pics (that got 250,000 views in 24hrs) the night I was w/the Blackhawks when they came home w/the Stanley Cup?! The team came straight to Rockit first, threw me in their bus, we hit the town, and we ended the celebration w/the most memorable party ever at The Underground at 4am- just hours before the celebratory parade downtown! It is all so obvious that Chicago loves their sports teams and we were beyond thrilled to celebrate w/the Blackhawks and the champion cup they so rightfully earned- and I just want to continue the celebration and invite all of my Facebook and Twitter friends to Rockit Wrigley this Thursday, Feb 24th for a Chicago Blackhawks Appreciation Party! Starting at 7pm let's all cheer on the Hawks as they take on the Predators....I'll have ticket giveaways, food, drinks and Blackhawks.. Will be fun!

This is how you RSVP....

Twitter Peeps : Tweet me this exact line - "Hey @BillyDec, I want to go to your Blackhawks Appreciation Night! http://bit.ly/dMJ1FW"

Facebook friends : Write this exact line on my wall - "Hey Billy Dec, I want to go to your Blackhawks Appreciation Night! http://bit.ly/dMJ1FW"

"Rock The Vote" Chicago Mayoral Debate After-Party Hosted by Billy Dec w/ Live Performance by American Idol Winner Lee DeWyze

Join me for the Rock The Vote Nights party, after the big mayoral debate, this Thursday night (2/17) 8-10p, at Rockit! Chicagoan & American Idol winner Lee DeWyze is coming home to perform live, candidates should be by to mingle, will be a fun way to continue the important message that we need more & more younger people to get out their vote!

I've always been a big supporter of the Rock The Vote campaign, after hosting a huge party for them during Lollapalooza this past summer w/ Lady Gaga tour team DJ Lady Starlight and Semi Precious Weapons. Rock The Vote states that their mission is "to engage and build political power for young people in our country." They set out to educate our youth and give them the knowledge and confidence to become involved and fight for what they believe in. I dig that.

RSVP here!

Come to my 1st night on stage at Chicago's infamous iO Improv Olympic!

Ever try something that you never thought you could do? This Monday night, I'm jumping on the infamous improv olympic (iO) stage where people I have loved like Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Mike Myers, Jack McBrayer, Rachel Dratch, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers.. Just to name a few, all got their start! Ya, I'm kind of freaking out- not gonna to lie.. Want to come see it?!?!

I just started classes under iO co-founder/owner Charna Halpern and absolutely love & recommend it! When I'm on stage this Monday night, my role will be to deliver monologues off the top of my head, at which time some of the best improvisers in the world will hopefully be inspired enough to improvise fun scenes off my stories! Its called the "armando diaz experience" (invented by iO alumns Adam McKay, David Koechner & Armando Diaz), iO's longest running show and a Chicago comedy landmark. It starts at 8:30p but I suggest you hit their bar & get seats early! Tix: Here or call 773.880.0199!

iO is located at 3541 N. Clark St. and was founded in 1981 with legendary director and improv luminary del close. Charna and del shared the same vision and passion for the improv scene and together developed the now-popular Harold (an improvised longform comedy), changing the face of improvisational comedy. Shoutout to all at iO for putting Chicago on the map for being THE world renowned city to study, experiment, and work on the craft and creativity of improv & comedy!

Guess who all is headed to the 53rd grammy awards!

Billy Dec at the 2010 Grammys from A Chicago Thing on Vimeo.

I'm off to los angeles in the morning because its grammy time again- this Sunday the 13th! Here is a quick video of me on the red carpet last year after my twitter followers wanted more than just my tweetpics. How many people can you recognize?!? And who are your favs this year?

My favs as always will definitely include a lot of chicagoans! Here are a few to watch out for! best rap solo performance: kanye west (duh). best traditional r&b vocal performance; best contemporary r&b album: r.kelly. best contemporary r&b gospel album: aaron sledge. best classical album, best choral performance: chicago symphony chorus. best classical album, best orchestral performance, best choral performance: chicago symphony orchestra. best jazz vocal album: freddy cole. best contemporary blues album: buddy guy. best traditional blues album; best contemporary blues album: willie "big eyes" smith.

get a full list of grammy nominations here and a full list of chicago nominees here. And speaking of music, particularly the blues which I love, don't forget to check out my live blues party on saturday, february 19th for my 1st 10,000 twitter followers... That you can come to if you click http://bit.ly/e34PMN details!

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Get tickled pink to support y-me and fight breast cancer!

Who wants to walk the pink carpet with me at an amazing event to be featured on wgn news tonight at 9p! the 6th annual "tickled pink" event that is all over the news tonight will actually take place this friday, february 11 from 7-10pm at the underground and would love to see you stop by!

Tickled pink has raised about $150,000 for the y-me national breast cancer organization since it started in february 2004 when its founder, jodi fyfe, lost her cousin to breast cancer. with a couple of close friends and colleagues and the determination to help contribute to y-me, the organization that helped her cousin, jodi started tickled pink chicago! i actually met her when I did a segment for metromix tv and covered and supported the first tickled pink party.

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My shot on fox's "Chicago code" and a chance to help people in need!

Did you catch the premiere of "chicago code" on fox last night?! What did you think?! I'm psyched to see my part on the season finale- here's aquick behind the scenes video of me in my trailer, on set, kicking it w/the leads between our takes (where they manhandle me) & more! 

if you are already a big fan like i am, i also wanted to share the inside scoop on the "chicago code" premiere after-party tomorrow night for much of the crew, cast, extras, production...  after we all get a private preview on what's to come at 8p.. we all head to rockit on hubbard for a post party just after 9p that you are welcome to come to if you are a superfan... just hit me on facebook or twitter and let me know you want to come asap!

i also really want to give a big shoutout to simon casting who not only gave me a shot at an audition for "chicago code" (which took me 3 trys to land after falling short twice),but for their philanthropic efforts to help people in need as they host their 4th annual blood drive on Monday, February 14, from 10am-4pm! Pls call 312-202-0124 to give a little!

It's important to give because every 2 seconds someone in America is in need of blood, but only 5% of healthy donors choose to donate blood? This fact is especially astonishing because one donation helps saves 3 lives...

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headed to the superbowl w/chicago's mike ditka, bill & giuliana rancic, gatorade & more!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Serena Williams - SuperBowl 2010-Dallas.jpg

Updated 2/8/11 : "One tweet from Serena Williams & our pic (above) gets 24,000 views in 24hrs! Blow my mind. Thx @Gatorade Superbowl Suite!" (A tweet I sent yesterday on my way home to Chi!)

When I got asked to go to this superbowl with my friends from gatorade, it was a no brainer heck yes because I thought (1) its the superbowl, (2) the bears might make it, & (3) dallas would for sure would be a ton warmer than chicago! Well, atleast I got #1 right! All kidding aside, I am super psyched- not only will I be able to share pics with you on facebook & twitter of the game (click on those links if not following me yet), but I get to drive a race car(?), attend some crazy parties & gifting suites, hang w/great friends and be a part of a supercool charity event I know will be a blast!

Coach ditka, "Apprentice" winner (and fellow chicagoan) Bill Rancic and his wife Giuliana of e! are all cohosting (along w/Carmen Electra and Aubrey O'Day) this great event called the best party in texas! Im attending because it will benefit organizations that I have supported in the past like ditka's gridiron greats, the ronald mcdonald house, habitat for humanity & more! For tix & info go to: http://www.superbowldallas.org/tickets.php join us!

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Billy Dec TV / WEB / FILM / HOSTING / ACTING reel (2011)

Just updated my reel for 2011 in case wanted to see it.. Enjoy!

Think you have a great idea for a movie?

After writing, shooting & airing our lil "short movie" / avatar invite this week, the tough challenges of it all really took me by surprise, and made me respect the industry all the more. It also made me take note of this seminar I thought I'd share. Its by la producer & highly sought-after screenwriting teacher/"pitch doctor" barri evans who will be hosting an intensive screenwriting seminar from feb 2-4. from what i hear, her seminars are amazing and really help-

barri evins always wanted to be a storyteller, and after finding out that she couldn't do it as a ballerina, she realized she could tell stories through film. she's helped set up pitches at Warner Brothers, Universal Studios, Disney, HBO, and more, and she's also worked with actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and auto racing enthusiast paul newman on a few political commercials. barri's currently working on a few projects with spider-man actor tobey maguire and a novel adaptation for lifetime. she heads a nonprofit organization called from the heart which promotes literacy and fosters a love of reading in children living below the poverty line.

i love that her dream and purpose is to help others achieve theirs and that she's sharing her successes to help aspiring screenwriters achieve their own. so all you aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters out there, if you're interested in attending her screenwriting seminar, you can get more info and register by emailing barri@bigbigideas.com!

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