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A Recipe For Disaster – Lives Up To The Name

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Its not everyday a well-known chef headlines a new play, so it was with great interest I attended the new immersive comedy, A Recipe For Disaster! This Windy City Playhouse production has taken over an entire floor of the recently reopened Petterino’s restaurant, dubbing the performance space “The Playhouse at Petterino’s”. This multi-sensory experience offers the acting debut of renowned celebrity chef and James Beard Award-winner, Rick Bayless. Not only is he the star, but he is also credited as a playwright and the creator of the sample bite-size tastings delivered to the audience throughout the production. The snacks were divine, it’s the play that left a poor taste in my mouth.

Aspiring to be a slap-stick romp, the jokes are as flat as day-old warm champagne. It took a writing team of five people to pen this chaotic mess of a script; Rick Bayless, Carl Menninger, Amy Rubenstein, Deann Bayless and Kevin Sullivan, but the sum of their combined efforts left me wanting more. A lot more. Directed by David H. Bell, this immersive production crumbled under the weight of its own ambitions. When the action takes place mere inches away from the audience members, you cannot hide behind the usual smoke and mirrors of a larger stage. The one dimensional characters aren’t satisfying enough to sustain this silliness for a full 90 minutes.

The action is centered around “Influencer Night’ at the fictitious upscale restaurant, The Contumacious Pig. Joining Bayless on this galley themed misadventure is a team of vapid nincompoops. Artistic Director, Amy Rubenstein is Shelly, the hostess and manager who begins the production on the phone in the lobby chatting with her mother, and then quickly has to put out an unending series of metaphorical fires, including juggling repeated kitchen mishaps, customer complaints, a missing pig as the main course, a surprise and unscheduled visit from a health inspector and a pointless back-story love affair with Bayless himself, that went absolutely nowhere. Scott Duff plays hapless Health Inspector Clyde, as a pratfalling, insecure, dolt. Duff is a regular on the comedy and improv circuit in the Windy City and deserves better.

Marcus Jackson is Boris, the standby server with a hidden agenda. I won’t spoil that here, but I must say he was punished with one of the worst hairpieces I have ever seen. From my high-top table seating, I was inches away from the worst hairline on a man since John Travolta’s sharpie black, Oscar night toupee. I understand costumer Uriel Gomez had a shoe-string costume budget, but this party supply store rug was an embarrassment. Rounding out the cast, Darian Teneas as Kiki, a self-important, self-indulgent, tediously pretentious vegan social media influencer and her plus one, Desiree Staples as Loreen, a man hungry kleptomaniac on the prowl for a beau, a full set of glasses and cutlery, all stolen from the restaurant.

The two standouts in this mess are Daniel Trinidad as Felix, a kitchen assistant who is also an aerialist, juggler and acrobat. This production should consider itself lucky to find this talented newcomer, a gifted  physical comedian who delivered legitimately sincere laughter inducing moments. Juggling oversized kitchen knives with confident ease. The most solid acting came from Sam Linda, as sous chef assistant, Iggy. Making his Windy City debut with this production, Linda is real find. His character keeps the kitchen running, far from smoothly, but he finished the show with his pride and dignity still intact, which is far more than I can say for the rest of the cast.

For those wanting an entire experience, there is a VIP package available to purchase which includes a pre-show charcuterie board and cocktails. During the show’s run, there are edible treats served to the audience. Amuses include crispy pita with homemade hummus, za’atar-roasted tomatoes and oil-cured olives as well as roasted dates with smoky gorgonzola dolce with cilantro passed as appetizers. To wash these delicacies down, a signature cocktail called a Chicago Paloma, with Espolon blano tequila, fresh grapefruit and lime juice with Malort over ice. Wild Mushroom Veloute with fresh thyme, sherry and Aleppo peppers helps this absurd farce of mistaken identity, a drugged chef, kitchen sabotage, and more go down a bit smoother. By the time the dessert is served, a Chocolate Fantasy of moist chocolate cake with avocado chocolate mousse and tequila-mascerated mango, everyone will be ready for this to wrap up. As an fyi, non-alcoholic cocktails are also available during the show upon request. Accommodations for dietary restrictions are also available, just make certain to contact the box office before showtime. It is also requested audience members not touch the performers or take photos during the production, the latter a rule repeatedly and consistently violated the night I attended.

As of March 23, 2022, proof of vaccination is required to attend, but the wearing of masks is optional. The evening I attended, everyone but my plus one and myself opted to not wear a mask at all at any point during the production. With Covid-19 on the uptick again and Broadway shows like Macbeth, Plaza Suite, A Strange Loop and Paradise Squarecancelling and postponing shows because their leads are testing positive, I wish everyone involved here good health and good luck.

Seeing the show

Windy City Playhouse’s A Recipe For Disaster! is currently playing at The Club Level of The Playhouse at Petterino’s

Stephen S. Best is currently a freelance writer for the Times Square Chronicles, covering the performing arts scene in the greater Chicagoland area. He has been a theater aficionado for years, attending his first live production, Annie, at the tender age of six. After graduating from Purdue University, Stephen honed his skills attending live theater, concerts and art installations in New York and Chicago. Stephen's keen eye and thorough appreciation for both theater patrons' time and entertainment dollar makes him a valuable asset and his recommendations key. Stephen currently lives in downtown Chicago.

Food and Drink

Lifevine Brings a Sparkle to Your Holiday Party

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Lifevine is a wine that is oh so fine this holiday season for all the right reasons.

If you are looking for an alternative for drinking this holiday season look no further than these incredible bottles that will forever find a place in your home.

The wine brand with zero sugar is a wine lovers dream. All in the brand’s portfolio is excellent in every single sip and it feels oh so good to know it is one of the first wines to list both serving facts and ingredients on the bottle. They believe in providing you the transparency you deserve so that you can make the best choices about what you put in your body.

As the company states, “We set out to produce a wine to fit your active lifestyle. We wanted a wine that offered excellent taste, purity, zero sugar* and full transparency. That is why we created Lifevine. We are committed to the highest level of transparency because we believe you should know what’s in your wine. Beyond zero sugar*, we want our wine to be free of harmful toxins and pesticides, without compromising quality or flavor. For this reason, we lab test all of our wines and submit them to a 3rd party standards organization to certify and award for things like organic and purity.”

Your holiday parties are set to buzz with delight with such an amazing alternative that tastes great and will not make you feel guilty the next day.

Varietals include Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and more. Lifevine is lab tested for purity, certified pesticide free and committed to label transparency.

Here is to your perfect holiday with Lifevine.

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Entertainment

Park Terrace Hotel, Hotel Chocolat and Ofreh

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Park Terrace Hotel

Hotel Chocolat kicked-off the holidays and unveil the Velvetiser‘s pop-up for the season.

Velvetiser’

Apple Pie Hot Chocolat from Velvetiser’

We miss the fireworks at the Bryant Park Christmas Tree lighting ceremony but we did watch Ofreh sing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Click here to hear her husband Andy Karl singing “Sleigh Bells”.

Healthy snacks and drinks abounded.

Rice paper stuffed with vegetables

Reconnecting with Diva Gals Daily Samantha Bessudo Drucker

Diva Gals Daily Maureen Martin

Diva Gals Daily Delaina Dixon with Hot Chocolat

A salted caramel rum old fashion

From the balcony of the Park Terrace Hotel

From the balcony of the Park Terrace Hotel

From the balcony of the Park Terrace Hotel

There was plenty of holiday cheer, a holiday sing-along and plenty of European style hot chocolate, festive cocktails and bites. What a way to start the season.

 

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Food and Drink

Did You Know You Can Have Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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Did you know Tiffany & Co. has the Blue Box Café on the fourth floor nestled within The Landmark, store Tiffany’s 5th Avenue. Inspired by the iconic Tiffany’s heritage, Daniel Boulud, opened a charmingly elegant café that offers three signature culinary experiences for elevated daytime dining.

You can order Breakfast at Tiffany’s | $59. This includes a plain Croissant, Oranais and apricot danish, Madeleine a french butter cake, Parfait Framboise Hampton’s granola, raspberry coulis, Pineapple Rosace with kiwi, lychee, pomegranate, vanilla, lime, Egg In A Shell scrambled egg and caviar. To drink a glass of Golightly, carrot, orange, pineapple, mango and ginger.

There is also Holly’s Favorites | $34. This includes a Croissant, Jam, Fresh Fruit Juice and cafe or Chocolat Chaud.

Tea At Tiffany’s| $98. This includes

Tea Sandwiches

egg & watercress
cucumber, dill & cream cheese
smoked salmon “bagel”
chicken curry & mango chutney
corned beef, mustard & pickles

Scones: traditional scones, jam and double cream

Cookies: canelé, madeleine and coconut rocher

Pastries

spiced cranberry eton mess
dulce de leche éclair
apple tatin
dark chocolate & orange cube

Your Choice of Belloc Tea: assortments of black, oolong, green, matcha, white, and herbal teas

and a glass of Champagne.

Hervé Rafflin, Brut NV | 30
La Caravelle, Rosé Brut | 35
Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Brut | 70

There is also a Seasonal Menu which has Caviar, soup, salads, quiche, Salmon, baked eggplant, lobster salad, duck terrine, pasta, black angus cheddar cheeseburger, brioche potato bun, french fries and an assortment of desserts.

Have I made you hungry yet? Well head to Tiffany’s for the perfect upscale holiday treat. Maybe, just maybe you’ll also be able to get some shopping in as well.

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Broadway

Events For December

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Food and Drink

Join Us For A Great Thanksgiving Dinner

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The Consulate, is a well known French brasserie on the Upper West Side at 519 Columbus Avenue and at 44 West 56th Street. The decor is a place of warmth and sophistication, that welcomes you the moment you walk in. Founder Metodija Mihajlov and his twin brother Kiril, are as charming as their establishment. When you meet them, you can see the love and care they put into everything. Going to The Consulate is a treat for all your senses, so when my friend Margarita got called to Florida to take care of her mother, Elisabeta and I decided eating out was the thing to do. Immediately I went to The Consulate’s menu and my mind was made up.

Thanksgiving prix fixe dinner $78 includes a choice from each category.

Appetizers

Roasted Honey Squash Soup: Amaretto Crunch, Creme Fraiche

Grilled Quail: Cardamon Balsamic glaze

Main

Dessert

Apple Tart: Vanilla Ice Cream

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