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Giving back at After School Matter’s Summer Teen Cuisine Event

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Giving back at After School Matter’s Summer Teen Cuisine Event

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Being part of the Chicago community means investing and giving back. When we’re not creating memorable culinary experiences for our clients, we dedicate time and resources to organizations that align with our company mission and values, as part of our corporate social responsibility program.

This year, our focus is on education and continuing to support After School Matters, a non-profit organization that provides life-changing, after-school and summer program opportunities to nearly 16,000 Chicago high school teens each year. One such program is their Advanced Culinary Program, which pairs budding tastemakers and chefs-to- be with local chefs for a series of lunches during the summer, served on the third-floor terrace of Gallery 37 Center for the Arts.

Last year, Chef Randal Jacobs lead students through the culinary steps of menu design, recipe execution and service for a Blue-Plate- inspired lunch. This year, students have been introduced to a variety of cuisines from the menus of favorite local restaurants including Black Bull, El Che and Allium at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.

We’re partnering with After School Matters outside of the kitchen, too. Three of our employees served as mentors to students in the spring 2017 Corporate Mentorship Program. We’re also looking into partnering with teens in the future on a community service project.

It was a pleasure get to try last week’s American BBQ menu provided by Pork Shoppe BBQ for the kick-off luncheon. Check out pictures from the day and if you are as inspired by this program as we are, we highly recommend you attend one of the upcoming Teen Cuisine lunches taking place every Friday through August 4th and the final lunch taking place on Thursday, April 10th. Purchase individual tickets or get a group together and purchase a table to help support these amazing teenagers.

Keep Your Dishes Warm During the Winter

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Winter Food Storage

Whether you love going on winter picnics, or will be traveling a long distance to a potluck in cold weather, it’s important to know how to keep food warm when it’s cold outside.

Here are some great tips for when you’ll be eating outside or traveling with food in the winter months.

How to Keep Food Warm Outdoors

Planning a fun outdoor winter picnic or excursion? You’ll want to pack foods that can be completely assembled in advance, are easy to eat, and – of course – will warm you up. Follow these tips for keeping warm foods warm when you’re outdoors:

Bring foods that you can carry in a travel container, such as a Thermos™. Not only is a Thermos™ extremely portable and easy to eat from, but it also helps keep food warm for quite some time. Chili, macaroni and cheese, and tomato soup are all great foods that will warm you up inside and are ideal for this type of container.

Also use a Thermos™ to carry warm beverages like hot apple cider, hot chocolate, tea, or coffee.

Foil-wrapped foods are also ideal for taking on an outdoor winter outing. Prepare and cook the food at home, wrap the food well in aluminum foil to keep it warm, and toss it in your bag. It’s that simple! Some ideas for foil-wrapped foods are burritos and baked potatoes.

How to Keep Food Warm When Traveling in the Winter

So you’ve made a delicious, crowd-pleasing dish that everyone at the potluck party is going to love. But how are you going to keep your dish warm on a long drive when it’s cold out? Follow these tips, including one for how to keep food warm in a cooler, and your food will still be warm when you arrive!

Just as wrapping food with aluminum foil is great for keeping food warm outdoors, it also works well to keep your pre-cooked food warm and insulated when you’re traveling a distance.

Bring a slow cooker meal. Foods cooked in a slow cooker will remain warm a few hours after this appliance has been unplugged.

Small items that require heat, like dips and soups, can be easily stored in soup canisters. The insulated metal in these containers can keep liquids warm for up to five hours.

 Grab your cooler. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? But the same cooler you use to keep food cold in the summer can also be used to keep food warm in the winter. Wondering just how to keep food hot in a cooler? According to The Daily South, you’ll need to:

  • Wrap solid bricks in heavy-duty foil. Heat them in your oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Line the bottom of the cooler with newspaper or brown paper shopping bags. Place the bricks on top of the lining so they cover the entire bottom of the cooler.
  • Place your food on top of the bricks and then pack the top with insulation.

There you have it. Some really useful tips for keeping food warm in the winter. Now you have no excuse to stay inside. Start planning your next winter adventure now – one that includes bringing food, of course!

 

What’s on Your Plate for 2017?

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2017 Chicago Food Trends

Chicago is known for its superb culinary scene, boasting top-notch restaurants, caterers, and chefs. This city is comprised of many innovative and creative leaders in the food industry who set new culinary trends.

Let’s take a look at some of the exciting culinary trends that we can expect to see in Chicago this year.

  1. Restaurant Gardens

Fresh ingredients are in high demand and that demand will only continue to increase. For this reason, some restaurants in Chicago have their own vegetable and herb gardens so they can easily and efficiently use only the freshest ingredients in their dishes. Choose Chicago lists some of the local restaurants that have embraced the farm-to-table trend.

  1. Breakfast Gets a Texture Overhaul

In 2017, breakfast foods with a different texture than the traditional ones are expected to become menu staples for this important meal. These new items won’t have the “smooth” texture like eggs and cooked cereal, but a crunchier one, with items like fried chicken and crispy chorizo appearing on breakfast menus. Our restaurant in the Loop, tesori trattoria & bar, is debuting its new brunch menu on Saturday, February 25. Check out their crispy Chicken Milanese with poached egg, fontina fonduta, arugula, and a touch of lemon.

  1. Beer Cocktails

Several restaurants throughout Chicago are mixing popular beers with hard liquor to create some unique and delicious beer cocktails. These are the perfect beverages for when you’re in the mood for some brew with a lively twist!

  1. Goat Dishes

Yes, you read that correctly. According to Food Business News, goat may be the next big protein in restaurants across the United States. Goat is leaner than most meats – including chicken. Chicago’s own Girl and the Goat serves up a few goat dishes, including Goat Carpaccio, Goat Empanadas, and Goat Ribs.

  1. Gluten-Free Menus

With more and more people adopting a gluten-free lifestyle, restaurants have realized the importance of offering customers gluten-free options. Of course, Chicago restaurants take gluten-free to the next level and ensure that these dishes are packed with flavor, keeping their customers coming back for more.

The latest restaurant trends are also popping up in the catering scene. If you’re looking for catering in Chicago for your next corporate or social event, we’d love to show you how we can harness the flavors of your favorite Chicago restaurant dishes at your next gathering Contact us today so we can help bring your catering vision to life.

Make One of Your Favorite President’s Go-To Dishes

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President's Day Meals

With President’s Day coming up, many of us will have a nice, long weekend to spend with family and friends. Why not have some fun and celebrate by making a go-to dish of one of your favorite presidents?

To inspire you, we’ve gathered some interesting information about the favorite foods of some of our past presidents.

  •      President William Howard Taft Feasted on a huge breakfast every day that usually consisted of a twelve-ounce steak, two oranges, and a lot of buttered toast.

  •      President John F. Kennedy – Kennedy just about always had soup for lunch, with chowder being a favorite since it was tied to his New England background. Try this recipe for Bay Scallop Chowder.

  •      President Ronald Reagan – Known for his love of desserts and high-calorie American fare, Reagan enjoyed dining on steak, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate mousse (when his wife was out of town!). Cook up some mac and cheese, grill some steak, or make monkey bread, which is a Reagan family tradition. This Chai Spiced Monkey Bread recipe is especially yummy at this time of year.

  •      President Theodore Roosevelt – Fried chicken. But not just any fried chicken. It had to be served with white gravy soaked into the meat. Check out this Chicken Fried Steak with Sage Gravy
 recipe.

  •      President Thomas Jefferson – Waffles. Not the frozen kind that you throw in the toaster, of course. After trying waffles for the first time while in Holland, he was hooked and even bought a waffle iron! You’ll need to get out your waffle maker and try Aretha Frankenstein’s Waffles of Insane Greatness.

  •      President George W. Bush – Huevos Rancheros were his choice for a post-church lunch on most Sundays.

  •      President Barack Obama – Chili. This is definitely a great dish for this time of year. Try this recipe for Just Good Chili.

  •      President Richard Nixon – He loved his wife’s meatloaf and it was on the family dinner menu about once a month.

If your favorite president’s dish doesn’t appeal to you, then try another one that is more suitable to your tastes. Just have some fun in the kitchen and then enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Need party catering in Chicago for an upcoming event? Contact us to discuss your event and we’ll be happy to help!

Then vs. Now: Planning a Non-Traditional Wedding

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If you want to have a non-traditional wedding, you’re probably thinking about ways that you can make your wedding fit your (and your future spouse’s) personality, style, beliefs, and budget. Thankfully, there are plenty of fun, trendy, unique, and new ways that people are choosing to celebrate their marriage, and the examples highlighted in this infographic from Blue Plate Chicago can serve as inspiration for your own nuptials (forgive the outdated word). Happy planning!

Planning A Non-Traditional Wedding

Like this Infographic? Feel free to copy this code and put it on your own site.