What a busy several days I’ve had lately!  Thursday – job interview.  Friday – job interview.  Today – I have another job interview – I know, it’s so crazy when it rains it pours!  But my super smart brother thought it might not be the best idea to discuss potential jobs on the blog until after if and when I take one, and that does make sense.  Tony was my moderator of the blog, but it’s nice that my brother is looking after me too.  Thanks Charlie!  (Go check out the weirdest thing that happened to him last week!).

One of the potential jobs that I can talk about is working with a local company that does farmers markets throughout the area and as far away as Kenosha, Wisconsin.  When I interviewed with this guy last Thursday I told him that I’d try it for a day and see if I like it – he can see me work and we could see if it was a good fit.  Kenosha is really only about an hour and 10 minutes away from where I live, so it was a nice drive up there Saturday morning.

PicMonkey Collage - EW

Not only were we selling products to customers, we also were preparing fresh veggie burger wraps – either Vegan or “Danimal” style which would include a farm fresh fried egg and cheese.  It had this delicious red pepper coulis drizzled over the top.  Everyone was raving about them!   Here is what I noticed though – the time flew by.  I never took a break, went to the bathroom, or hardly ate a thing for the 5 hours I worked the market.  I guess if you do what you like, it doesn’t feel like work! 

After we wrapped things up, I had only gone about 3,000 steps, and since it was such a nice day, I threw my stuff in the car and went on a walk around the lakefront.  Only two things were missing – sunscreen and a hat!  I had gotten 30 minutes in when I could already feel my skin start to burn and I ended up driving home.   I never really meal planned for this weekend, and couldn’t decide on what to make or cook, so we all made the decision to just order pizza and not have to think about it.  Normally Marcos pizza is good by us, but this time it tasted like crap.  And while I normally pride myself in how my dishes look and are photographed, I think this picture sums up Saturday night dinner.


Let’s just say that overeating was not even an option that night!

I thought I’d take the train to the NRA show on Sunday, but a quick look at the train schedule for a Sunday and how far out I live from the city, it soon became clear that driving was the only option.  I had two things going for me though – Sunday traffic (not bad!) and an app called SpotHero.   It was recommended on the NRA app, and because I was attending the show, I got a $5 off promo code.  So last week I clicked on the app near McCormick place, picked out a parking garage about .4 miles away, and it said it would cost $12.10 from 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.  But with my promo code, it ended up costing me only $7.10 to park in Chicago – unheard of!


I would definitely use that app again if I were driving to the city. 

Since it was my first day attending the show, I had to go to the registration area and get my badge.

PicMonkey Collage foodamental

Because of the app I could plan my day and then just hit “my schedule” to remind myself where I wanted to be at a certain time.  I knew I wanted to do the cooking demo with Kevin Hickey who owns The Duck Inn with his restaurant group in the Bridgeport area of Chicago.  Jacky, this restaurant screams us so we need to make a plan!  Chef Kevin named this restaurant after a place his great grandmother owned after she became a young widow with six kids.  All she knew was how to cook, so she opened a small diner near a train station so that people could just “duck in” to grab a bite to eat.  The theme of our hands on cooking demonstration was gourmet toast, or crostini, or bruscetta – whatever you want to call it, it’s fancy toast.

I was paired with a lovely girl whose husband was attending the show.  We collaborated our efforts to recreate the chef’s two toasts – I apologize for the crappy photography, but the lighting wasn’t that great, and I was more interested in experiencing the event rather than making sure I got the best shot.  We made a fresh fava bean and ricotta toast with fresh mint and lemon zest.  It’s the first time I’ve ever eaten fresh fava beans and they were amazing.  The second one was an olive oil, white bean, octopus, Calabria pepper and fresh thyme toast – again, equally delicious!   That segment lasted 45 minutes and was fun.  And, you know me, I just had to get a picture with Chef Kevin!


As soon as I was leaving that event, I saw my friend Brian who I’ve met twice before at the Kendall College high school culinary competitions I was a judge at.  We both saw each other about the same time, and yes, you guessed it, I had to take a picture with him too!  Am I klassy with a K or what?!  We talked for a good 10 minutes and it was nice to catch up.  The Illinois finalists are headed to San Diego in a couple weeks for the national championships.  Brian is their culinary mentor from Kendall to help lead them to victory.


My step-son Joe and his wife work for Hot Schedules in Austin, and they had a booth at the event.  I had to stop by and say hello!  I met the VP of the company and she was lovely – Lizz, she told me that you hold that whole ship together with your mad organizational and admin skills!


And as I was leaving that booth, wouldn’t you know that I ran into the Tapatio booth!  I told them how much I tag them in my Instagram pics.   They gave me a whole bottle to take home. #swag


Here’s what I noticed though.  My badge said “affiliate” on the bottom, which basically meant that I really wouldn’t be buying any dishware for my restaurant, or outdoor heaters for my bistro.  But the people who didn’t mind that and saw “food blogger” on my badge loved to talk to me about their food.  Yes please!  Of course, lot’s of cheese.  Wisconsin Cheese!



That hot buffalo cheddar curd was probably the best cheese curd I’ve ever had in my life.  Seasoned perfect, a bit of squeak, and well – delish!  Thanks Ellsworth Coop Creamery!

I had told everyone that my first goal was to get a picture with Graham Elliot.   The only problem was that I knew he spoke on Saturday, but I wasn’t there, and I had no idea if he was going to be attending any other day.  Not kidding, within 30 minutes of me being there, I saw him walking right in my direction.  It helped that his signature white framed glasses were noticeable!  I wish I would have had someone near us take the picture for us, because my arms are short, he’s tall, but I’ll take it!  Mission accomplished!


He was super nice, and I told him that I followed him on Instagram and that his kids were super cute.  Ha! 

You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for my recap of my Culinary workshop with Ming Tsai and some of my eats throughout the day.   Right now I have to head back downtown – my goal today?  To get my picture with Robert Irvine!  Wish me luck….just follow me on Instagram to see if that happens.  All I know is that these last few days have only solidified that I made the right decision on carving out a new career path for me.  And I couldn’t be happier! Open-mouthed smile