EXPLORE THE NORWEGIAN FJORDS AND MOUNTAINS ON AN ELECTRIC SUPERCAR ROAD TRIP

Weeklong program is an eco-sensitive, road-tripping adventure in a Porsche.

If you’re a fan of adventure and luxury cars, this new supercar driving program is for you.  Adding the glide of a luxury electric car, you’ll travel through Norwegian fjords and the Sunnmore Alps on a supercar road trip, enjoying empty open roads and breathtaking scenery behind the wheel of an electric Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.  The route is pre-programmed; you do the driving.

Driving the roads along mountain passes, bridges and labyrinthine tunnels will amp up the adrenaline of any driving enthusiast. And this time, it’s done in the most sustainable, exhilarating fashion–in an electric supercar of the highest renown.

The seven-day Drive the Fjords supercar adventure–available on June 12; August  7; and September 4, 11, 18 — has been created by specialist travel company Off the Map Travel to showcase  Norway’s National Tourist Routes in the Fjords, an exciting adventure of extreme roads that are renowned as some of the best in terms of views, engineering, and. Should you decide to go for the ultimate splurge, a private version of the program is also available.

Pre-Programmed Routes Through Mountains and Fjords

Delivering a racetrack experience along the edge of the fjords, the emission-free electric supercar Porsche comes equipped with pre-programmed routes that journey through Norway’s stunning fjords and mountains.

The Porsche has room to hold everything needed for the six-day trip. An engineering marvel, it smoothly handles the winding mountain and forest routes that have inspired Norwegian folklore. Set the car on cruise control, feel the power, and take in the ever-changing scenery outside.

Enjoy a night in the art nouveau town of Alesund, where a boat ride among the fjords provides an extra sense of adventure. A night in a traditional Sami tent deep in the pine forests plus all hotel accommodations along the route support the program’s sustainability emphasis. All provide eco-toiletries in the rooms, locally sourced produce in the restaurants, and use only electric or hybrid vehicles. Onsite chargers are provided for your vehicle.

“We created this program for guests to travel through the stunning Norwegian fjords in a stylish and comfortable manner without impacting the environment,” said Jonny Cooper, founder of Off the Map Travel.

PhotoCredit_BrandonScottHerrell.

Inclusions

The adventure aspect of the trip is paramount. Travelers will journey along the spectacular Atlantic Road known as “the road across the sea” with its imposing seven bridges and network of tunnels, travel deep into the magnificent mountains to the Troll Wall, the largest rock wall in Europe; take a ferry into the gaping Geiranger fjord; journey up a gondola for the views of the North Atlantic; and experience the fjords from the sky in a private helicopter.

The cutting-edge electric supercar achieves 283 miles on a charge and has a built-in “charging planner” that calculates the optimum route based on your charge status.

The menu each day features the region’s best local cuisine including seafood from hyper-local purveyors.

The seven-day, six-night drive the fjords itinerary is priced from £7899 per person ($9747 USD at the time of this writing) including all meals and accomodations, based on double occupancy; with accommodations in Brosundet, Storfjord and Union Oye; transfers; all activities; and use of the electric Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo. Flights are additional.

Full itinerary:

PhotoCredit_ThomasEkstrøm

Day 1: 

Arrive in Alesund. From the window of your aircraft, you’ll see the crystal clear fjords and jagged peaks of the Sunnmore Alps.

Transfer from the airport to the art nouveau town of Alesund to check into Hotel Brosundet. Once settled, you will board a boat and head out into the fjords to Flatsea lighthouse. Enjoy a delicious lunch in the lighthouse and make use of the jacuzzi and sauna before heading back to your hotel for dinner in Apotekergata No. 5.

Day 2: 

In the morning, check out and meet your driver who will take you to Hotel Storfjord in the town of Storfjord. Enjoy a welcome cocktail at the Lavvu, a traditional Sami tent set deep in the pine forests surrounding the hotel. Take in your surroundings and learn about some of the highlights of the trip ahead. Spend the rest of the evening relaxing and maybe head to the spa.

Day 3: 

After breakfast it’s time to start your personal driving adventure along the North Atlantic Drive, described as  one of the most scenic drives in the world. It’s also the perfect challenge. According to Dangerous Roads, “driving along this road is like teetering on the edge of the sea.”

There are eight bridges on the Atlanterhavsveien (Atlantic Road) but the most dramatic–as well as a marvel of engineering–is the  Storseisundet Bridge which at times it appears to just drop off completely into the surrounding waters. the road travels from island to island, whales and seals can often be sighted near the shore and birds soar overhead. The Storfjord Hotel provides a picnic basket brimming with local cheese, meats, berries and sparkling wine so find a place to enjoy the breath-taking scenery and look for whales and seals and soaring birds. Take note on your way back, of the rugged Sunmore peaks dotting the horizon and the beautiful colors of the sunset on the water.

Savor the realization that this will be your playground for the next few days as your adventure takes you deeper and deeper into this land of fjords.

Day 4: 

Head to the mountains of Romsdal. The first stop will be at the Troll Wall, the highest rock wall in Europe. Enjoy pastries packed by the kitchen and continue deeper into the mountains where the Trollstigen will appear with a winding road up to the summit. This is one of the most magnificent vantage points in Norway. Descend into the Valdel Valley which will lead you back to the fjords.

A ferry to Stranda offers a glimpse of things to come as the fjords get narrower and deeper. Pause at the view point between the tunnels and stare directly into the gaping chasm of the Geiranger fjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site The final destination is Union Oye – an historic royal oasis that opened in 1891 and is nestled at the end of the valley.

Check in and enjoy a delicious dinner. Relax and enjoy an after dinner drink at the Palmehagen, the hotel’s enchanting bar known for its vintage cocktails.

Day 5: 

After a night’s rest and breakfast that includes locally sourced foods, continue on along the winding roads heading west along the coastline to Stryn, Here, take Loen Skylift from Fjord Norway to Mt. Hoven where you can enjoy lunch and the panoramic views of Mt. Skåla and Lake Lovatnet to the east and Jostedalsbreen Glacier and Olden to the south.

Photo Credit Marius Beck Dahle

Then hit the road again, moving inland to the fjord hamlet of Geiranger. Board the ferry, sit back and enjoy a cruise through the grandest fjord of them all with waterfalls cascading off the mountains. Disembark at Hellesylt and drive to Union Oye.

Day 6:

 A visit to the Sunmore region celebrates the seafood heritage of the region including a visit to an island off the west coast for a five-course seafood dinner. On the return journey, skirt Storfjord as you arrive back for your final meal.

Day 7: 

For the final morning you’ll say farewell to you luxe Porsche supercar and take to the skies for an aerial tour of the roads you’ve traveled. This trip provides an immersive experience aboard the helicopter as it weaves in and out of the fjords high above the mountain peaks. At the end, a private driver will transport you to Alesund Vigra Airport for your departure.

Photo credit-Marius-Beck-Dahle

OFF THE MAP TRAVEL

The team at Off the Map Travel works with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of our planet. Specializing in Soft Adventure OTMT creates tailor-made holiday itineraries offering authentic experiences not offered by many larger travel companies.  For more information on Off the Map Travel itineraries visit www.offthemap.travel; call 1-646-701-0041; email info@offthemap.travel  or join in the conversation on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube or Pinterest

West Baden Springs Resort: Southern Indiana’s calming oasis

By Special Guest Blogger Kathy Witt.

It is fitting that West Baden Springs Hotel, a magnificent domed resort built in 1902 in the manner of the grand spas of Europe, sits along an Indiana Historic Pathways route. The roads tell the story of Indiana and the country, beginning with the hoofs of the bison and moving through time to the wheels of the stagecoach, the tracks laid by the railroads and the cars meandering along today in search of a historic resort that looks more Bavaria than America’s Crossroads.

Located in the southern part of the state, West Baden Springs’ own story begins in the mid-nineteenth century with a stretch of marshland, a hidden natural spring and one man’s dream to create a holiday destination that would ultimately overshadow the prestigious French Lick Springs Resort, built in 1845 and located just a mile down the road.

It is a story of intense rivalry between two visionary hoteliers, devastating fires and full-scale renovations and expansions that brought each resort to national prominence as luxurious health resorts. Both properties took advantage of their location amidst the natural mineral springs of the area, promoting the springs for their medicinal value and successfully marketing the “curative” water as Pluto (French Lick) and Sprudel (West Baden).

Today, the hotels are part of French Lick Resort, a classic, family-friendly destination with three golf courses, two spas and plenty of activities and entertainment to fill a long weekend. While the onsite casino, bowling alley, arcade and children’s activities give French Lick Springs a kickier vibe, West Baden Springs is a calming oasis that retains its Old World charm with European architecture, fairytale towers and a bricked entrance road that rolls out alongside the hotel’s formal gardens.

Favorite pastimes at West Baden Springs are lounging, dining, sipping cocktails and enjoying afternoon tea in the enormous atrium, a light and airy gathering space, once known as a Pompeian Court, with comfy, cushy seating scattered throughout. It is topped by the free-spanning dome, a steel and glass marvel measuring 195 feet in diameter and 130 feet in height and the reason the hotel was branded the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened.

Guests naturally gravitate to this stunning space, where they can see remnants of the mosaic terrazzo tile flooring that, when originally installed in 1916, consisted of two million squares of marble, plus a fireplace that looks like a piece of art and passageways that spoke off to various parts of the hotel, including registration, dining and the pool and spa.

The hotel’s six stories and their 243 guestrooms and suites encircle the atrium, with about 40 of these inviting retreats featuring a balcony that opens up to an incredible view of the dome and everything beneath it. Like the atrium itself, the balcony rooms are a perfect nook for relaxing and listening to the piano player as his fingers travel through a playlist of familiar melodies each evening.

Relaxation

Also relaxing is a visit to the spa, designed using historic photographs to capture the resort’s original two-level natatorium layout. Like the resort itself, the spa combines that Old World sensibility with European elegance to create a tranquil retreat. The spa offers a number of different treatments, including massages, facials and body scrubs.

Hidden History

Hidden off the registration area is the library, a hushed spot that brings to mind Agatha Christie novels, brandy snifters and hound dogs dozing by the fire with its plump chairs, dark paneling and classic rolling library ladder. Another one: The museum gallery tucked off a first floor corridor. It is a history lesson, arranged in glass cases and on the walls, of West Baden Springs as seen through its early hotel décor and dishware, promotional posters and vintage pictures.

Acitivities & Events

West Baden Springs Hotel offers numerous activities – onsite shopping, historic and horse-drawn carriage tours, strolling the formal gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and indoor hot tub, fitness center access, horseback riding, golfing and a variety of scheduled events and concerts.

It also inspires slowing down, relishing being in the moment and appreciating all the stories told through the architecture, activities and traditions of one of the country’s most beautiful and historic resorts.

Plan Your Travels

The AAA Four Diamond West Baden Springs Hotel is a National Landmark Hotel and member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts. Its 243 luxury guest rooms and suites are each individually decorated. The room rate comes with a number of complimentary items: valet and self-parking, resort-wide shuttle service, two bottles of water daily and Wi-Fi/Internet. It is also a pet-friendly hotel. Note that daily housekeeping and nightly turn-down service are currently suspended.

A trolley, running seven days a week, takes guests back and forth between West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs hotels. At West Baden, the depot is located adjacent to the gardens; at French Lick, it is near the casino.

Information and reservations: 888-936-9360, www.FrenchLick.com/hotels/WestBaden.

Packages

The resort offers a number of special packages (www.FrenchLick.com/hotels/packages for details), including these:

  • Mother’s Day (May 7 and 8) – includes overnight accommodations at West Baden Springs on Saturday or Sunday and Mother’s Day Brunch for two in the Atrium on May 8, featuring omelet, waffle and carving stations, chilled seafood bar and more.
  • Romance – includes resort accommodations, red rose on check-in, bottle of house wine and special welcome gift, plus a $105 French Lick Resort dining credit.
  • Happy Birthday – includes resort accommodations, welcome gift, birthday cake, $20 in ice cream credit and a $75 dining credit.

About Kathy Witt

Kathy Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer who writes a monthly syndicated travel column for Tribune News Service, is a regular contributor to Kentucky Living, Georgia and Travel Goods magazines and RealFoodTraveler.com as well as other outlets like County. She is the author of several books, including Cincinnati Scavenger (Fall 2022) Secret Cincinnati and The Secret of the Belles, and is working on another travel-themed book for Fall 2023 release. Kathy is a member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Her writing has led to many cherished experiences and memories, including glacier walking in the foothills of Denali; being a Guardian on an Honor Flight from Louisville, KY to Washington D.C.; interviewing Dolly Parton several times; sailing with Oprah with Holland America Cruises; riding BOLT!, the roller coaster aboard Carnival’s Mardi Gras; and attending the 70th Anniversary Re-Premiere of Gone With the Wind, hosted by the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum, where she got to enjoy the company of actress Ann Rutherford (“Carreen O’Hara”) and the “Three Beaus” – Mickey Kuhn, Patrick Curtis and Greg Giese.

The Unofficial Bridgerton Cookbook

         Didn’t receive an invitation to dinner at Lady Granville’s nor to Lady Danbury’s party? They must be lost in the mail. And no, you didn’t enjoy the bonbons at the Grand Buffet. That’s because no one asked you to attend. How infuriating not to be able to taste all those luscious foods while mixing with dukes and lords at fancy parties like on Bridgerton, the award winning costume series on Netflix series.

         Unfortunately I have some bad news for you. Odds are almost 100% you’ll never get an invitation to any of the grand homes in Grosvenor Square like those you see on Bridgerton. Without an invitation, there goes you chance of snagging a duke or a duchess, but as for the food, well you can still dine like the characters on the show.

         That’s because Lex Taylor has written The Unofficial Bridgerton Cookbook: From The Viscount’s Mushroom Miniatures and The Royal Wedding Oysters to Debutante Punch and The Duke’s Favorite … 100 Dazzling Recipes Inspired by Bridgerton (Adams Media; $21.99). It’s a very pretty book with lots of photos and drawings, all to make you want to put on your best tiara and low cut ballroom gown (or if you’re a man, your cutaway tuxedo and top hat) and dine on Taylor’s recipes for Spice Trade Biscuits and Lady Varley’s Special Chicken. Unfortunately though you’ll have to cook the dishes yourself as well and clean up afterwards. How unfair not to have a butler.

         The cookbook’s release is perfectly timed as the show’s second season is starting and trailers for the series already show this year’s brooding handsome hero and the lovely young ladies whose mothers have told them to make sure they snag a lord or higher. That’s because Bridgerton is set in 1813 during England’s Regency period when marrying up was the equivalent of a woman earning a college degree today.

         Taylor created and adapted recipes that could have graced the tables of the Bridgertons and other families in the series. And that’s surprising given Taylor is the type of guy who’s spent a lot of time fishing and hunting with the Inuit of Baffin Island, foraging for food in the Hudson Valley, immersing himself in cultures that rely on ancestral knowledge for survival, and hanging out in the Sahara and the Atacama deserts and the jungles of Central America and West Africa. His previous book, Grill Fire: 100+ Recipes & Techniques for Mastering the Flame shows, among other things, how to turn your backyard grill into a Brazilian churrascaria and the way to make your own chicken wing racks. He is, he says, “a wilderness- survival-outdoor-chef and barbecue guy.”

         “I never expected that the editors would choose my proposal,” Taylor told me on the phone as I assume, he was on his way to fish with the Inuit, not to a high tea.

         “I was a hundred percent certain that there were a large number of Bridgerton fans who had already published several books with Simon and Schuster and one of them would write the book,” he continues.

         But obviously it worked out differently. Was that a mistake on Simon & Schuster’s part?

         Not at all. Choosing Taylor actually makes a lot of sense. How he lives, is in ways, reflective of life during the Regency. He’s been asked to join the Explorer’s Club because of his extensive travels with their focus on the indigenous people and he loves delving into exploration and research. Indeed, inspired by trips to New Orleans, he won Esquire magazine competition’s “The Next Great Burger” for his meat patty creation using such ingredients as caramelized pears, a saffron aioli, and deep fried beignet bun. He also appeared on “Chopped” and the Food Network and was a judge on “Beat Bobby Flay.”

         2022 may sounds like a different world than London during the Regency which was from 1811 to 1820. But Taylor sees the similarities.

         “The Regency was a time when many of the ships that traveled for English companies were bringing back exotic ingredients and people were completely fascinated by the foods and spices they brought back with them,” he says, noting that he likes to cook wild and crazy stuff as well and stages large dinners in the Hudson Valley region after successful foraging trips. “It’s so me. The food of that time is like what I do—curing and pickling, collaborating with people who fish and hunt and cook with fire and who try new things.”

         Taylor didn’t want his cookbook to be a half-hearted spin-off. That was one of several goals he had when writing—to riff off the foods eaten on the show, ensure the ingredients were readily available and the recipes easy to make. He also wanted to approach the project with a sense of humor. Take his inclusion of lavender as an ingredient.

         “Not only is lavender a beautiful plant that was used for table decorations, but it was also used during the Regency as a perfume and a medicine because it was thought to help with romance and love,” he writes about the lavender drink he created. “Both men and women used considerable amounts of perfume, as bathing was not a major part of their hygienic practice.”

Rumor-Stirring Blueberry Lavender Fizz

SERVES 1

  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
  • 1 tablespoon blueberry jam
  • 1⁄2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 ounce lime juice
  • 1⁄2 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 large egg white, pasteurized
  • 8–12 ounces cooled sparkling water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Muddle lavender in a cocktail shaker.

Add remaining ingredients except sparkling water and lemon zest. Shake vigorously until texture changes to a foam, about 10 seconds.

Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Shake 15 seconds or until cocktail is well chilled.

Strain into a Collins glass. Top with sparkling water and garnish with lemon zest.

Lady Featherington’s Society Sponge Cake

For the macerated berries:

  • 1 pound fresh berries, sliced, (dry after rinsing)
  • 1/4 cup Moscato or other sweet wine
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or amber honey

For the sponge cake:

  • 8 cold large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola or other neutral oil
  • 1/3 cup pulp-free orange juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup fresh berries
  • 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

Place all the ingredients for the macerated berries in a large bowl and stir gently, cover and refrigerate 24 hours or until the berries are softened. Next line to make sponge cake Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs and large bowl until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. Turn mixer speed to low and slowly add oil and juice.

On lowest speed, mix in flour and baking powder until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer immediately to a wire cooling rack, releasing from pan to cool upside down for about one hour.

Flip over so the rounded part is on top and cut into two equal rounds. Spoon macerated berries evenly over one cake round and top with the second cake round. Top with fresh berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

         The above recipes are from The Unofficial Bridgerton Cookbook by Lex Taylor. Copyright © 2021 by Alexei Taylor. Photographs by Harper Point Photography. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

THE 2022 JAMES BEARD AWARD RESTAURANT AND CHEF SEMIFINALISTS

The James Beard Award Semifinalists today announced their 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists in advance of the returning James Beard Awards® presented by Capital One. Winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees, in addition to honorees for Leadership, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Humanitarian of the Year Awards will be revealed on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Scottsdale, AZ. Nominees for the James Beard Foundation Media Awards will be released on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in New York City.

Mabel Gray

The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards were established in 1991 and is one of five separate recognition programs of the Awards. James Beard Awards policies and procedures can be viewed at jamesbeard.org/awards/policies

Check out the 2022 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists below.

Outstanding Restaurateur  

  • Ashok Bajaj, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group (Rasika, Bindaas, Annabelle, and others), Washington, D.C. 
  • Kim Bartmann, Bartmann Group, Minneapolis 
  • Chris Bianco, Tratto, Pane Bianco, and Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix 
  • Jason and Sue Chin, Good Salt Restaurant Group, Orlando, FL 
  • Brandon Chrostowski, EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute, Cleveland 
  • Larry and Jessica Delgado, Delgado Collective, McAllen, TX 
  • Ravi DeRossi, Overthrow Hospitality, NYC 
  • Greg Dulan, Dulan’s Soul Food Restaurant, Los Angeles 
  • Kevin Gillespie, Red Beard Restaurants (Gunshow, Ole Reliable, and Revival), Atlanta 
  • Andrew Le, The Pig and the Lady and Piggy Smalls, Honolulu 
  • Marc Meyer, Vicki Freeman, and Chris Paraskevaides, Bowery Group (Shuka, Shukette, Vic’s, and others) NYC 
  • Joe Muench, Black Shoe Hospitality, Milwaukee 
  • Willy Ng, Koi Palace, Dragon Beaux, and Palette Tea House, San Francisco 
  • Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom, Langbaan, Hat Yai, Eem, and others, Portland, OR 
  • Todd Richards and Joshua Lee, The Soulful Company (Lake & Oak), Atlanta 
  • J.D. Simpson and Roger Yopp, SavannahBlue, Detroit 
  • Deborah Snow and Barbara White, Blue Heron Restaurant & Catering, Sunderland, MA 
  • Chris Williams, Lucille’s Hospitality Group, Houston 
  • Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, a.kitchen + bar, High Street Philly, and others), Philadelphia 
  • Edwin Zoe, Zoe Ma Ma and Chimera Ramen, Boulder and Denver, CO 

Outstanding Chef  

  • Reem Assil, Reem’s, Oakland and San Francisco, CA 
  • Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, GA 
  • Andrew Black, Grey Sweater, Oklahoma City 
  • Peter Chang, Peter Chang, VA and MD 
  • Austin Covert, Rosewild, Fargo, ND 
  • Christopher Gross, Christopher’s, Phoenix 
  • Stephen Jones, The Larder + The Delta, Phoenix 
  • Ji Hye Kim, Miss Kim, Ann Arbor, MI 
  • Kyle Knall, Birch, Milwaukee 
  • Emiliano Marentes, ELEMI, El Paso, TX 
  • Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles 
  • Keiji Nakazawa, Sushi Sho, Honolulu 
  • Josh Niernberg, Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction, CO 
  • Alex Raij and Eder Montero, La Vara, NYC 
  • Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, Don Angie, NYC 
  • Michael Schwartz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami 
  • Douglass Williams, MIDA, Boston 
  • Cindy Wolf, Charleston, Baltimore 
  • Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle 

 Outstanding Restaurant 

Parachute
  • Brennan’s, New Orleans 
  • Butcher & Bee, Charleston, SC 
  • Chai Pani, Asheville, NC 
  • Cora Cora, West Hartford, CT 
  • Di Fara Pizza, NYC 
  • El Burén de Lula, Loíza, PR 
  • Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia 
  • Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm, Boulder, UT 
  • La Morada, NYC 
  • Living Kitchen Farm & Dairy, Depew, OK 
  • Métier, Washington, D.C. 
  • Mixtli, San Antonio, TX 
  • Parachute, Chicago 
  • Paragary’s, Sacramento, CA 
  • Post & Beam, Los Angeles 
  • Odd Duck, Milwaukee 
  • Oriole, Chicago 
  • ShinBay, Scottsdale, AZ 
  • Sushi Izakaya Gaku, Honolulu 
  • The Walrus and the Carpenter, Seattle 

 

Emerging Chef

  • Manuel “Manny” Barella, Bellota, Denver 
  • Angel Barreto, Anju, Washington, D.C. 
  • Kristi Brown, Communion, Seattle 
  • Rochelle Daniel, Atria, Flagstaff, AZ 
  • Calvin Eng, Bonnie’s, NYC 
  • Casey Felton, Bahn Oui, Los Angeles 
  • Shenarri Freeman, Cadence, NYC 
  • Ben Grupe, Tempus, St. Louis 
  • Donald Hawk, Valentine, Phoenix 
  • Cleophus Hethington, Benne on Eagle, Asheville, NC 
  • Brian Hirata, Na‘’au, Hilo, HI 
  • Serigne Mbaye, Dakar Nola, New Orleans 
  • Thuy Pham, Mama Đút, Portland, OR 
  • Mia Orino and Carlo Gan, Kamayan ATL, Atlanta 
  • Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria, Austin 
  • Amanda Shulman, Her Place Supper Club, Philadelphia 
  • Amanda Turner, Olamaie, Austin 
  • Chris Viaud, Greenleaf, Milford, NH 
  • Crystal Wahpepah, Wahpepah’s Kitchen, Oakland, CA 
  • David Yoshimura, Nisei, San Francisco 

Best New Restaurant 

Café Mamajuana, Burlington, VT 
  • ABACÁ, San Francisco 
  • Angry Egret Dinette, Los Angeles 
  • Bacanora, Phoenix 
  • BARDA, Detroit 
  • Café Mamajuana, Burlington, VT 
  • Casian Seafood, Lafayette, CO 
  • Dhamaka, NYC 
  • Fritai, New Orleans 
  • Gage & Tollner, NYC 
  • Horn BBQ, Oakland, CA 
  • Kasama, Chicago 
  • Kimika, NYC 
  • Laser Wolf, Philadelphia 
  • Leeward, Portland, ME 
  • Lengua Madre, New Orleans 
  • MACHETE, Greensboro, NC 
  • Matia Kitchen & Bar, Orcas Island, WA 
  • The Marble Table, Billings, MT 
  • Nani’s Piri Piri Chicken, Asheville, NC 
  • NiHao, Baltimore 
  • Owamni, Minneapolis 
  • Oyster Oyster, Washington, D.C. 
  • Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House, San Leon, TX 
  • República, Portland, OR 
  • Roots Southern Table, Farmers Branch, TX 
  • Sooper Secret Izakaya, Honolulu 
  • Union Hmong Kitchen, Minneapolis 
  • Ursula, NYC 
  • Zacatlán Restaurant, Santa Fe 
  • Zitz Sum, Coral Gables, FL 

Outstanding Pastry Chef 

Chacónne Patisserie
  • Antonio Bachour, Bachour, Coral Gables and Doral, FL 
  • Nicolas Blouin, Destination Kohler, Kohler, WI 
  • Warda Bouguettaya, Warda Pâtisserie, Detroit 
  • Mark Chacón, Chacónne Patisserie, Phoenix 
  • Angela Cicala, Cicala at the Divine Lorraine, Philadelphia 
  • Kate Fisher Hamm, Leeward, Portland, ME 
  • Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant, Honolulu 
  • Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles 
  • Claudia Martinez, Miller Union, Atlanta 
  • Elise Mensing, Brasserie by Niche, St. Louis 
  • Camari Mick, The Musket Room, NYC 
  • Ruben Ortega, Xochi, Houston 
  • Shannah Primiano, Porto, Chicago 
  • Rabii Saber, Four Seasons, Orlando, FL 
  • Caroline Schiff, Gage & Tollner, NYC  
  • Anne Specker, Kinship, Washington, D.C. 
  • Krystle Swenson, The Social Haus, Greenough, MT 
  • Sofia Tejeda, Mixtli, San Antonio, TX 
  • Jen Yee, Hopkins and Company, Atlanta 

Outstanding Baker 

  • David Cáceres, La Panadería, San Antonio, TX 
  • Maya-Camille Broussard, Justice of the Pies, Chicago 
  • Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME 
  • Susannah Gebhart, Old World Levain (OWL) Bakery, Asheville, NC 
  • Marissa and Mark Gencarelli, Yoli Tortilleria, Kansas City, MO 
  • Joseph, Archalous, and Caroline Geragosian, Old Sasoon Bakery, Pasadena, CA 
  • Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, AZ 
  • Aaron Hall, The Local Crumb, Mount Vernon, IA 
  • Mike Hirao, Nisshodo Candy Store, Honolulu 
  • Clement Hsu, Katherine Campecino-Wong, and James Wong, Breadbelly, San Francisco 
  • Nobutoshi “Nobu” Mizushima and Yuko Kawashiwo, Ihatov Bread and Coffee, Albuquerque, NM 
  • Evette Rahman, Sister Honey’s, Orlando, FL 
  • Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks, Second Daughter Baking Co., Philadelphia 
  • Caroline Schweitzer and Lauren Heemstra, Wild Crumb, Bozeman, MT 
  • Khatera Shams, Sunshine Spice Bakery & Cafe, Boise, ID 
  • Zak Stern, Zak the Baker, Miami 
  • Elaine Townsend, Café Mochiko, Cincinnati, OH 
  • Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop, Richardson, TX 
  • Louis Volle, Lodi, NYC 
  • Pamela Vuong, The Flour Box, Seattle 

Outstanding Hospitality (Presented by American Airlines)

  • BaoBao Dumpling House, Portland, ME 
  • Bar del Corso, Seattle 
  • Binkley’s, Phoenix 
  • Coquine, Portland, OR 
  • Cúrate, Asheville, NC 
  • House of Prime Rib, San Francisco 
  • Hugo’s, Houston 
  • Johnny’s Restaurant, Homewood, AL 
  • José, Dallas 
  • Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, Hudson, NY 
  • Mudgie’s Deli and Wine Shop, Detroit 
  • Phoenicia, Birmingham, MI 
  • The Preacher’s Son, Bentonville, AR 
  • Sanford, Milwaukee 
  • Spuntino, Denver 
  • Steve and Cookie’s, Margate, NJ 
  • Sylvia’s Restaurant, NYC 
  • Ticonderoga Club, Atlanta 
  • Tutka Bay Lodge, Homer, AK 
  • Valter’s Osteria, Salt Lake City 

 

Outstanding Wine Program

Kai
  • a.kitchen + bar, Philadelphia 
  • The Four Horsemen, NYC 
  • Frenchette, NYC 
  • Golden Age Wine, Mountain Brook, AL 
  • High Street Wine Co., San Antonio, TX 
  • Hiyu Wine Farm, Hood River, OR 
  • Kai, Phoenix 
  • L’Etoile, Madison, WI 
  • The Little Nell, Aspen, CO 
  • Lucky Palace, Bossier City, LA 
  • Lyla Lila, Atlanta 
  • Madam, Birmingham, MI 
  • Maydan, Washington, D.C. 
  • Polo Grill, Tulsa, OK 
  • The Punchdown, Oakland, CA 
  • Rainbow Ranch Lodge, Gallatin Gateway, MT 
  • Rebel Rebel, Somerville, MA 
  • Sachet, Dallas 
  • Tomo, Seattle 
  • Vicia, St. Louis 

Outstanding Bar Program

Nobody’s Darling

  • Alley Twenty Six, Durham, NC 
  • Attaboy, Nashville 
  • Avenue Pub, New Orleans 
  • Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu 
  • barmini by José Andrés, Washington, D.C. 
  • Cafe La Trova, Miami 
  • Chapel Tavern, Reno, NV 
  • Friends and Family, Oakland, CA 
  • Genever, Los Angeles 
  • Goodkind, Milwaukee 
  • The Jewel Box, Portland, ME 
  • Julep, Houston 
  • La Factoría, San Juan, PR 
  • Las Almas Rotas, Dallas 
  • Llama San, NYC 
  • Nobody’s Darling, Chicago 
  • Shelby, Detroit 
  • Valkyrie, Tulsa, OK 
  • Vicia, St. Louis 
  • Water Witch, Salt Lake City

Best Chefs (Presented by Capital One):

Best Chef: California 

Mr. Jui’s

  • Chris Barnum-Dann, Localis, Sacramento, CA 
  • Sylvan Mishima Brackett, Rintaro, San Francisco 
  • Val M. Cantu, Californios, San Francisco 
  • Keith Corbin, Alta Adams, Los Angeles 
  • Srijith Gopinathan, Ettan, Palo Alto, CA 
  • Tony Ho, Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant, Rosemead, CA 
  • Judept Irra, Tamales Elena y Antojitos, Bell Gardens, CA 
  • Nobody’s Darling, Chicago San Francisco 
  • Matthew Kammerer, The Harbor House Inn, Elk, CA 
  • Bryant Ng, Cassia, Santa Monica, CA 
  • Heena Patel, Besharam, San Francisco 
  • Natalia Pereira, Woodspoon, Los Angeles 
  • Melissa Perello, Octavia, San Francisco 
  • Minh Phan, Phenakite, Los Angeles 
  • Justin Pichetrungsi, Anajak Thai, Los Angeles 
  • Carlos Salgado, Taco María, Costa Mesa, CA 
  • Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong, Jitlada, Los Angeles 
  • James Syhabout, Commis, Oakland, CA 
  • Pim Techamuanvivit, Nari, San Francisco 
  • Anthony Wells, Juniper and Ivy, San Diego

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH) 

  • Omar Anani, Saffron De Twah, Detroit 
  • Rodolfo Cuadros, Amaru and Bloom Plant Based Kitchen, Chicago 
  • Diana Dávila Boldin, Mi Tocaya Antojería, Chicago 
  • Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Chicago 
  • Jason Hammel, Lula Cafe, Chicago 
  • Anthony Lombardo, SheWolf, Detroit 
  • Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere, Baobab Fare, Detroit 
  • Thomas Melvin, Vida, Indianapolis 
  • Dave Park, Jeong, Chicago 
  • Michael Ransom, ima, Detroit 
  • Darnell Reed, Luella’s Southern Kitchen, Chicago 
  • James Rigato, Mabel Gray, Hazel Park, MI 
  • Jose Salazar, Salazar, Cincinnati, OH 
  • Noah Sandoval, Oriole, Chicago 
  • Ahmad Sanji, AlTayeb, Dearborn, MI 
  • John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, Smyth, Chicago 
  • Jill Vedaa, Salt+, Lakewood, OH 
  • Sarah Welch, Marrow, Detroit 
  • Erick Williams, Virtue Restaurant & Bar, Chicago 
  • Kate Williams, Karl’s, Detroit 

  

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

  • Anthony Andiario, Andiario, West Chester, PA 
  • Joey Baldino, Zeppoli, Collingswood, NJ 
  • Angel Barreto, Anju, Washington, D.C. 
  • Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington, D.C. 
  • Adam Diltz, Elwood, Philadelphia 
  • Antimo DiMeo, Bardea Food & Drink, Wilmington, DE 
  • Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, Canal House Station, Milford, NJ 
  • Matt Hill, Ruthie’s All-Day, Arlington, VA 
  • Bill Hoffman, The House of William & Merry, Hockessin, DE 
  • Jesse Ito, Royal Izakaya, Philadelphia 
  • Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, Apteka, Pittsburgh 
  • Wei Lu, China Chalet, Florham Park, NJ 
  • Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia 
  • Peter Prime, Cane, Washington, D.C. 
  • Carlos Raba, Clavel Mezcaleria, Baltimore 
  • Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C. 
  • Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon, Kalaya Thai Kitchen, Philadelphia 
  • Yuan Tang, Rooster & Owl, Washington, D.C. 
  • Wei Zhu, Chengdu Gourmet, Pittsburgh 
  • Bethany Zozula, 40 North at Alphabet City, Pittsburgh 

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)  

  • Dane Baldwin, The Diplomat, Milwaukee 
  • Karen Bell, Bavette La Boucherie, Milwaukee 
  • Daniel Bonanno, A Pig in a Fur Coat, Madison, WI 
  • Rob Connoley, Bulrush, St. Louis 
  • Jorge Guzmán, Petite León, Minneapolis 
  • Michael Haskett, M.B. Haskett Delicatessen, Sioux Falls, SD 
  • Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, EsterEv, Milwaukee 
  • Mary Kastman, Driftless Cafe, Viroqua, WI 
  • Anthony Kueper, Dolce, Omaha, NE 
  • Gregory León, Amilinda, Milwaukee 
  • Rachel McGill, DISH Restaurant, Lincoln, NE 
  • Ryan Nitschke, Luna Fargo, Fargo, ND 
  • Craig Rivard, Little Fox, St. Louis 
  • Kevin Scharpf, Brazen Open Kitchen | Bar, Dubuque, IA 
  • Sean Sherman, Owamni, Minneapolis 
  • Erik Skaar, Vann, Spring Park, MN 
  • Evy Swoboda, Brasserie by Niche, St. Louis 
  • Carl Thorne-Thomsen, Story., Prairie Village, KS 
  • Yia Vang, Union Hmong Kitchen, Minneapolis 
  • Ben Welch, Botanica, Wildwood, MO 

Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY) 

  • Saibeen Acord, Saibeen’s Kitchen, Great Falls, MT 
  • Salvador Alamilla, Amano, Caldwell, ID 
  • Dan Ansotegui, Ansots, Boise, ID 
  • Jose Avila, El Borrego Negro, Denver 
  • Mike Blocher, Nick Fahs, and David Barboza, Table X, Salt Lake City 
  • Cody Cheetham, Tavernetta, Denver 
  • Logen Crew and Paul Chamberlain, SLC Eatery, Salt Lake City 
  • Caroline Glover, Annette, Aurora, CO 
  • Briar Handly, Handle, Park City, UT 
  • Suchada Johnson, Teton Thai, Teton Village, WY 
  • Kris Komori, KIN, Boise, ID 
  • Chris Lockhart, PREROGATIvE Kitchen, Red Lodge, MT 
  • Chris McDonald, Cowfish, Lander, WY 
  • Mawa McQueen, Mawa’s Kitchen, Aspen, CO 
  • Brian Menges, The 2nd Street Bistro, Livingston, MT 
  • Paul Naugle, Izakaya Three Fish, Bozeman, MT 
  • Dana Rodriguez, Work & Class, Denver 
  • Eric Skokan, Black Cat Farm Table Bistro, Boulder, CO 
  • Luis Young, Penrose Room, Colorado Springs, CO 
  • Dave Wells, The Tasting Room at Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa, Pray, MT 

Best Chef: New York State  

Under the Volcano
  • Einat Admony, Balaboosta, NYC 
  • Mary Attea, The Musket Room, NYC 
  • Albert and Malenda Bartley, Top Taste, Kingston, NY 
  • Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy, NYC 
  • Nick Curtola, The Four Horsemen, NYC  
  • Eric Gao, O Mandarin, Hartsdale and Hicksville, NY 
  • JJ Johnson, FIELDTRIP, NYC 
  • Gabe McMackin, Troutbeck, Amenia, NY 
  • Helen Nguyen, Saigon Social, NYC 
  • Ayesha Nurdjaja, Shuka, NYC 
  • Chintan Pandya, Dhamaka, NYC 
  • Kyo Pang, Kopitiam, NYC 
  • Junghyun Park, Atomix, NYC 
  • Carla Perez-Gallardo and Hannah Black, Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, Hudson, NY 
  • Erik Ramirez, Llama Inn, NYC 
  • Romeo Regalli, Ras Plant Based, NYC 
  • Irwin Sánchez, Under the Volcano, NYC 
  • Bryce Shuman, Sweetbriar, NYC 
  • Hillary Sterling, Ci Siamo, NYC 
  • Dale Talde, Goosefeather, Tarrytown, NY 

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT) 

Annette

  • Bowman Brown, Elda, Biddeford, ME 
  • Vien Dobui, CÔNG TỬ BỘT, Portland, ME 
  • Patricia Estorino, Gustazo Cuban Kitchen & Bar, Waltham and Cambridge, MA 
  • Tiffani Faison, Orfano, Boston 
  • Jeff Fournier, Thompson House Eatery, Jackson, NH 
  • Daniel Gursha, Ledger, Salem, MA 
  • Tico Huynh, Yvonne’s, Cambridge, MA 
  • Ben Jackson, Magnus on Water, Biddeford, ME 
  • Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta, Brassica Kitchen + Cafe, Boston 
  • Christian Kruse, Black Flannel Brewing Company, Essex Junction, VT 
  • Brian Lewis, The Cottage, Westport, CT 
  • Courtney Loreg, Woodford Food and Beverage, Portland, ME 
  • Macarena Ludena, Cora Cora, West Hartford, CT 
  • Nisachon Morgan, Saap, Randolph, VT 
  • Cassie Piuma, Sarma, Somerville, MA 
  • William Rietzel, COAST, Watch Hill, RI 
  • Damian Sansonetti, Chaval, Portland, ME 
  • John DaSilva, Chickadee, Boston 
  • David Schrier, Jessica Pollard and David Clegg, Daily Operation, Easthampton, MA 
  • David Vargas, Vida Cantina, Portsmouth, NH

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA)  

  • Nathan Bentley, Altura Bistro, Anchorage, AK 
  • Nick Coffey, Ursa Minor, Lopez Island, WA 
  • Erasto Jackson, Lil Red’s Takeout and Catering, Seattle 
  • Jonathan Jones, Epilogue Kitchen & Cocktails, Salem, OR 
  • Liz Kenyon, Rupee Bar, Seattle 
  • Carlo Lamagna, Magna Kusina, Portland, OR 
  • Robynne Maii, Fête, Honolulu 
  • Melissa Miranda, Musang, Seattle 
  • David Nichols, Eight Row, Seattle 
  • Vince Nguyen, Berlu, Portland, OR 
  • Brandon Pettit, Delancey, Seattle 
  • Thomas Pisha-Duffly, Oma’s Hideaway, Portland, OR 
  • Mark Pomaski, Moon & Turtle, Hilo, HI 
  • Beau Schooler, In Bocca Al Lupo, Juneau, AK 
  • Sheldon Simeon, Tin Roof, Kahului, HI 
  • Mutsuko Soma, Kamonegi, Seattle 
  • Robert Urquidi, Ethel’s Grill, Honolulu 
  • Jojo Vasquez, Fond, Lahaina, HI 
  • Aaron Verzosa, Archipelago, Seattle 
  • Chad White, Zona Blanca, Spokane, WA 

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV) 

Curate
  • Katie Button, Cúrate, Asheville, NC 
  • Greg Collier, Leah & Louise, Charlotte, NC 
  • Mike Costello and Amy Dawson, Lost Creek Farm, Lost Creek, WV 
  • Oscar Diaz, The Cortez, Raleigh, NC 
  • Sunny Gerhart, St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar, Raleigh, NC 
  • Jake Howell, Peninsula, Nashville 
  • Philip Krajeck, Rolf and Daughters, Nashville 
  • Cheetie Kumar, Garland, Raleigh, NC 
  • Anthony Lamas, Seviche, Louisville, KY 
  • Jason Liang, Brush Sushi Izakaya, Decatur, GA 
  • Ouita Michel, Holly Hill Inn, Midway, Lexington, and Versailles, KY 
  • Ricky Moore, SALTBOX Seafood Joint, Durham, NC 
  • Orlando Pagán, Wild Common, Charleston, SC 
  • Craig Richards, Lyla Lila, Atlanta 
  • Alison Settle, Barn8, Goshen, KY 
  • Peyton Smith, Mission Pizza Napoletana, Winston-Salem, NC 
  • Stephanie Tyson, Sweet Potatoes, Winston-Salem, NC 
  • Aaron Vandemark, Panciuto, Hillsborough, NC 
  • Joey Ward, Southern Belle and Georgia Boy, Atlanta 
  • Mailea Weger, Lou, Nashville 

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)  

  • Blake Aguillard and Trey Smith, Saint-Germain, New Orleans 
  • Michael Beltran, Ariete, Coconut Grove, FL 
  • Valerie, Nando, and Fernando Chang, Itamae, Miami 
  • Clay Conley, Buccan, Palm Beach, FL 
  • Adam Evans, Automatic Seafood and Oysters, Birmingham, AL 
  • Jeremy Ford, Stubborn Seed, Miami 
  • Hao Gong, LUVI Restaurant, New Orleans 
  • Francis Guzmán, Vianda, San Juan, PR 
  • Timothy Hontzas, Johnny’s Restaurant, Homewood, AL 
  • Melissa M. Martin, Mosquito Supper Club, New Orleans 
  • Matthew McClure, The Hive, Bentonville, AR 
  • Abel Mendoza, Estela, Rincón, PR 
  • Henry Moso, Kabooki Sushi, Orlando, FL 
  • Michael Nelson, GW Fins, New Orleans 
  • Niven Patel, Ghee Indian Kitchen, Kendall, FL 
  • Alex Perry, Vestige, Ocean Springs, MS 
  • Michael Pirolo, Macchialina, Miami 
  • Allison Richard, High Hat Cafe, New Orleans 
  • Rafael Rios, Yeyo’s, Bentonville, AR 
  • Isaac Toups, Toups’ Meatery, New Orleans 

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)  

  • Matthew Amberg, Oren, Tulsa, OK 
  • Wanda J. Armstrong, Evelyn’s, Tulsa, OK 
  • Indri Bahar, Rendang & Co. Indonesian Bistro, Tulsa, OK 
  • Troy Cannan, LuLou’s Restaurant, Reno, NV 
  • Kwok Chen, Kwok’s Bistro, Reno, NV 
  • Andrew Donovan, Basque, Tulsa, OK 
  • Lori Hashimoto, Hana Japanese Eatery, Phoenix 
  • Zach Hutton, Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails, Oklahoma City, OK 
  • Gina Marinelli, La Strega and Harlo, Las Vegas 
  • John Martinez, Tito & Pep, Tucson, AZ 
  • Maria Mazon, BOCA Tacos y Tequila, Tuscon, AZ 
  • Ahmed Obo, Jambo Cafe, Santa Fe 
  • Fernando Olea, Sazón, Santa Fe 
  • Martín Rios, Restaurant Martín, Santa Fe 
  • Salazar Brothers, La Guelaguetza, Albuquerque, NM 
  • Giovanni Scorzo, Andreoli Italian Grocer, Scottsdale, AZ 
  • Eben Shillingford, Sisserou’s, Tulsa, OK 
  • Jamie Tran, The Black Sheep, Las Vegas 
  • Hongrui Xin, Big Dan Shanxi Taste, Las Vegas 
  • Marie Yniguez, Bocadillos, Albuquerque, NM 

Best Chef: Texas 

Cured
  • Alex Au-Yeung, Phat Eatery, Katy, TX 
  • Damien Brockway, Distant Relatives, Austin 
  • Aaron Bludorn, Bludorn, Houston 
  • Sylvia Casares, Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen, Houston 
  • Tiffany Derry, Roots Southern Table, Farmers Branch, TX 
  • Christine Ha and Tony J. Nguyen, Xin Chào, Houston 
  • Quy Hoang, Blood Bros. BBQ, Bellaire, TX 
  • Kaiser Lashkari, Himalaya Restaurant, Houston 
  • Matt McCallister, Homewood, Dallas 
  • Steven McHugh, Cured, San Antonio, TX 
  • Misti Norris, Petra & the Beast, Dallas 
  • Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman, José, Dallas 
  • Esaul Ramos Jr., 2M Smokehouse, San Antonio, TX 
  • Felipe Riccio, MARCH, Houston 
  • Regino Rojas, Revolver Taco Lounge, Dallas 
  • John Russ, Clementine, San Antonio, TX 
  • Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co., Seguin, TX 
  • Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo, Austin 
  • Finn Walter, The Nicolett, Lubbock, TX 
  • Koji Yoshida, EBESU Robata & Sushi, Plano, TX 

Valentine’s Day Destination: Vegas Romance

       Always a popular place for romance, Las Vegas has been the destination for those in love and wanting to get married since 1939. That’s why it was called the “Marriage Capital of the World.” Indeed, in a recent online issue, Brides.com rated Caesars as the best overall venue for weddings. The reasons? Their numerous and include offering both indoor and outdoor venues for hosting intimate and large weddings, giving clients the option of choosing customizable all-inclusive packages, and available room blocks with discounted rates at all Caesars Entertainment properties.

Shania Twain residence opening night Zaps Theater Planet Hollywood Dec 6 2019 Photos By Denise Truscello

         So whether you’re looking for a romantic destination or a place to tie the knot, consider these Valentine Day romantic options available at Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas.

          Bugsy & Myer’s Steakhouse at the Flamingo Hotel: With an authentic old-school romance vibe,   this steakhouse, located at the Flamingo Las Vegas, is the perfect dinner spot this Valentine’s Day.          The restaurant will serve a prix fixe menu, priced at $198 per couple. This price includes an  appetizer, entrée, two sides, dessert, and a sparkling wine toast.

Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck at Paris Hotel

Paris, France is known as the city of love. However, for many, leaving the country is off the table. At 46 stories high, the Eiffel Tower located at Paris Las Vegas, is the next best thing. Taking a trip to this iconic replica is the perfect romantic activity for Valentine’s Day. To purchase tickets, please visit here.

Sweet Spa Specials from Caesars Palace

Located at Caesars Palace, the Qua Baths & Spa are offering remarkable Valentine’s Day specials for you and your partnerThese specials include the Sweet Strawberry Crush Massage ($690 per couple for 80 minutes) and the Hugs and Kisses Facial ($250 per person for 50 minutes). Relax and unwind throughout the whole month of February- to book please visit here.

Treatment Room singles 019

Shania Twain live at Planet Hollywood

Couples can sing and dance the night away at Shania Twain’s “Let’s Go!” Las Vegas Residency. Held in the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Shania is planning to surprise her concertgoers with something special for the holiday! Valentine’s Day performances include dates, February 11th, 12th, and 14th. To purchase tickets please visit: here.

Get Hitched at Caesars Palace

There is nothing more iconic than getting married in Vegas! Starting at $3,000, Caesars Palace offers a wedding package at one of the largest chapels on the Las Vegas strip! This package includes Three nights in a Premium Room at Caesars Palace, VIP hotel registration for the wedding couple and much more! For more information and to book, please visit here.

The Broadmoor: A Romantic and Culinary Getaway for Valentine’s Day

 Consider this when planning your Valentine’s Day getaway. In a study conducted by relationship expert Dr. John Gray, over 70% of surveyed couples reported that they enjoyed cooking together and were more satisfied in all areas in their lives compared to couples that didn’t. That’s why the The Broadmoor, located in Colorado Springs just launched a very good romantic reason to stay at this iconic luxury resort.

Besides the wonderful historic ambience–the hotel formally opened in 1918–the resort’s award winning chefs will be on hand to create hands-on culinary classes, movie-themed dinners, and a stunning luxury engagement package. Other features of the package include a jewelry consultations, private car services to and from the airport, romantic dinners for two and more — perfect for a proposal in the mountains.

A popular wedding destination and perfect proposal spot in the mountains, The Broadmoor offers several ways couples can make Colorado part of their love story. For the couples who loves to cook together or are interested in learning new or introductory kitchen techniques and recipes, or for friendly duos interested in sharpening their cooking skills, The Broadmoor’s culinary team is taking out their recipe books to share their love of cooking for the resort’s new Recipe for Romance package – an opportunity to reconnect, unwind, wine, dine, and cook with professionals and partners.

Available every Friday through Sunday beginning February through March, this new culinary couple’s offer includes accommodations, two cooking classes with the resort’s acclaimed culinary team, sparkling wine and strawberries upon arrival, plus a $50 breakfast credit per person, per night with rates beginning at $1,000++ based on double occupancy.

Couples will enjoy two culinary classes during their weekend stay (wine, recipes, coffee, and delicious food to-go included), one on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday morning with each month featuring different regional cuisine themes. In February, guests will learn the pizza and pasta classics of the resort’s Ristorante del Lago restaurant while Broadmoor chefs share their techniques and tips for the best traditional pizza toppings & how to bake a pizza at home. Lovebirds will also learn how to make ravioli, hand cut pappardelle and how to make beef Bolognese followed by a lesson on how to make Tiramisu from scratch the next morning.

 In March, guests will be transported to Madrid with a demonstration on how to make classic tapas. Broadmoor chefs will share the finer points of making tortilla Española, Croquetas de Jamon, Gambas al Ajillo, Patatas Bravas, Marinated Olives, and Pan con Tomate. The next morning guests will learn how to make classic Spanish desserts Crema Catalana and Chocolate con Churros.

© Kevin Syms

While couples are encouraged to explore and enjoy the resort’s award-winning restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, guests may also take advantage of the option for their own special dinner and a movie with a meal inspired by the actual movie and aligned with the monthly theme or culinary region. Chocolat, Julie & Julia, Toast, Big Night, Godfather, The Hundred-Foot Journey, anyone? Champagne and popcorn delivered to the room, of course.

And this culinary cooking package is just an amuse-bouche to the romantic offerings at The Broadmoor. Beginning May through October, The Broadmoor will kick the romance up a notch with its Love and Luxury package perfect for marriage proposals, anniversaries, and the start of happily-ever-afters. This special over-the-top luxury proposal option pulls out all of the stops and includes junior suite accommodations, dinner for two, an art & jewelry consultation, a celebration cake, roses, dance lessons, private car service to and from the airport, champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and a $50 breakfast credit. Prices begin at $5,000++ based on double occupancy.

For more information, visit Broadmoor.com

foodnetwork.com: What Is Coronation Chicken? | FN Dish – Behind-the-Scenes, Food Trends, and Best Recipes : Food Network

foodnetwork.com: What Is Coronation Chicken? | FN Dish – Behind-the-Scenes, Food Trends, and Best Recipes : Food Network.

‘Tis the Time for Cuffing Season

“We all know what makes a perfect date location: privacy, ambience and good drinks,” my friend Victoria Cohen tells me. “With cuffing season in full swing – the infamous New York City dating scene is back and better than ever. From fun and flirty – to sultry and classic, the location of a romantic night can make or break your experience. “

For those who don’t know, according to Merriam-Webster, cuffing season refers to a period of time where single people begin looking for short term partnerships to pass the colder months of the year. Cuffing season usually begins in October and lasts until just after Valentines Day. Since we’re already more than a month behind, we’ve better get cuffing.

And, of course, Victoria has suggestions on where to go.

The Crown

Snuggle up with a first (or forever) date atop Hotel 50 Bowery at The Crown. With lo-fi hip hop and cozy couches – enjoy seasonal and classic cocktails with stunning views of Downtown Manhattan, impressive for any date. With light Asian-inspired bites and chic yet calming décor – this hot-spot is the place to be.

The Campbell

Privately tucked into Grand Central StationThe Campbell transports you and your date back to the 1920’s – complete with classic décor, ambient lighting and live jazz on Saturday nights.

The sultry velvet tufted lounge offers delectable appetizers to complement their thoughtfully curated timeless cocktails. Listen to live jazz on Saturday nights or stop in for an after-work happy hour – The Campbell is the perfect spot to get to know someone special. 

Mr. Purple

This it-spot of the lower east side is the perfect place to impress your date or spice things up in your relationship. This winter you can cozy up under the fur-lined blankets in the Veuve Clicquot Winter Chalet pop-up at Mr. Purple. Step into a larger-than-life heated snow globe atop the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo complete with chalet décor, a custom Veuve Clicquot champagne bar, and ambient lighting – this once-in-a-lifetime experience is sure to impress. 

Nearly Ninth

With signature and seasonal cocktails, great food, smooth live jazz performed weekly by Bobby Katz Trio and cozy lounges, Nearly Ninth located inside the Arlo Midtown offers a sophisticated date spot, perfect for a first-meet. 

The clean and classic décor is city-chic while the comfortable couches let guests relax and enjoy private conversations in any of their three spaces: the side-walk level bar, private lounge, and rooftop space.

Celebrate the Holidays in Chicago, Winter 2021

I love Chicago no matter the time of year, but this time of year with all the holiday lights and decorations, the streets and trees dusted with snow, it all takes on such a magical glow. That’s why I was happy when my friend Katie Papadopoulos of Choose Chicago sent me a list–and it’s a long one–of all the special ways to enjoy the city this season.

Visit the traditional Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza (celebrating its 25th anniversary this year) for a mug of glühwein and that perfect handcrafted gift. Lace up your skates and zip around The Peninsula Sky Rink (the only hotel skating rink in Chicago) followed by a traditional Holiday Afternoon Tea in The Lobby beneath the 20 foot Christmas tree. Marvel at the thousands of twinkling lights on display at ZooLights and Illumination at The Morton Arboretum or the dozens of festively decorated trees at the MSI’s Christmas Around the World display.  Or head over to Navy Pier’s new “Light Up the Lake, an indoor, temperature controlled experience featuring large-scale light-sculpture displays, a regulation-size Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Village and gift market and other family-friendly events. Winterland at Gallagher Way will extend its festivities beyond the holiday season with ice bumper cars, skating lessons and curling lessons running through January/February 2022 and the popular Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon will return with a fun new collaboration with the blockbuster art experience Immersive Van Gogh, projecting visuals of sunflowers and starry night brush strokes onto the ice. 

Come find out why Chicago was once again designated by Conde Nast Traveler’s readers as the Best Big City in the U.S. in 2021, for the fifth year in a row and check out what’s new in Chicago this holiday season! 

Visit the below links for more information regarding: 

Holiday Attractions & Programming

Attractions:

The holiday season kicks off in Chicago on November 20 with the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, returning  for the annual Tree-Lighting Parade down North Michigan Avenue with Grand Marshals Mickey and Minnie Mouse from Walt Disney World® Resorts in Florida. The event-filled day begins at 11:00 AM. starting at Lights Festival Lane (401 North Michigan Avenue) with a festive thoroughfare of booths and family activities, including photos with Santa Claus. The parade of fabulous floats, giant helium balloons, exciting marching bands, celebrities, musical performances, Santa Claus, and more begin at 5:30 PM., helping illuminate the more than 200 trees along The Magnificent Mile. 

The City of Chicago’s 108th Christmas Tree lighting in Millennium Park will return November 19, 2021 and shine through the holiday season until January 9, 2022. The festivities begin with a pre-show by DJ Selah Say (5:30-6:00 PM), performances by Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, the cast of Chicago Opera Theater, a youth dance ensemble from the Kenwood School of Ballet and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus (6:00-6:30 PM), the tree-lighting and fireworks (6:30 PM) and a post-lighting concert featuring  DJ Selah Say, Cirque du Soleil, Chicago Soul Spectacular and singer-songwriter Brian McKnight (6:35-7:45 PM).

Bring the holiday season onto the waters of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan with a series of brunch, lunch and dinner cruises from City Cruises by Hornblower celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Prices range from $60 – $300 and include 2-3 hours of buffet or plated dinner service, spectacular views of the city skyline and local landmarks, onboard entertainment, festive decor, open bar for select cruises or the ability to upgrade your drink menu with creative cocktails, wine and beer. 

The Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Exhibits return to the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) from November 17, 2021-January 3, 2022, an annual tradition that began in 1942 with a single tree and now has expanded to feature a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. This year, MSI is celebrating the golden age of travel with themed décor and a spotlight on the Pioneer Zephyr train and Take Flight’s 727, which have been newly reimagined. Entrance to the exhibits is included in the regular cost of entry with museum admission ($21.95 for anyone Age 12+, $12.95 for any child 3-11) but those who wish to take a picture with Santa in his photo studio inside the Holiday Store must buy a special timed-entry ticket. 

Christkindlmarket, the beloved annual holiday tradition returns for its 25th season this year in Daley Plaza (November 19-December 24, 2021). Modeled after the 16th century holiday markets in Germany, this Christmas bazaar is a hub for traditional German fare, delightfully warm beverages, charming musical performances and charming holiday vibes that the entire family can enjoy. Enjoy a mug of glühwein (traditional hot spiced wine), snack on  currywurst, schnitzel and pretzels and shop for the perfect handmade gift. Another Christkindlmarket will take place at Wrigleyville (November 19-December 31, 2021).

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park is thrilled to announce a new winter experience, Fairmont Lodge, debuting for its inaugural winter season starting November 20-February 2022. Completely transforming the hotel’s lounge, Fairmont Lodge celebrates the winter season with cozy décor, fire pits, festive programming, overnight packages and more.  Chef William Schultz completes the experience with a seasonal menu of wintery-themed bites like Sweet and Savory Fondue and S’mores, Oaxaca Spiced Short Ribs and more. Signature hand-crafted cocktails include a Flaming Eggnog made tableside and Oh So Delish Hot Chocolate, both served in a Lodge-themed collector cup. Cozy up to one of Fairmont Lodge’s nine indoor fire pit tables (every Wednesday-Sunday), enjoy weekly Thursday Happy Hours in December and check the calendar for special events. 

The ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns as a walking experience from November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022. Visitors can explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during this one-of-a-kind spectacle of color, light, and sound, and see returning favorites and surprising new sights, including a special Human+Nature display and an experience featuring 150 colorful lanterns. Along the one-mile, paved walking path filled with festive music and lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter, guests can warm up by a crackling fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, or stop in one of the concession tents for a snack and beverage. Advance purchase is recommended as many nights will sell out.

  • IllumiBrew returns for two nights (November 18 and 19), a special event where an ages 21+ crowd can sample seasonal beers, ciders, and meads from popular Chicagoland breweries stationed along the Illumination trail; each tasting ticket includes fifteen 3 oz beer samples and a souvenir light up tasting glass. 

Navy Pier’s “Light Up the Lake will open on November 26, 2021 and run through January 2, 2022. This indoor, temperature controlled experience will feature large-scale light-sculpture displays (more than 600,000 twinkling lights), a regulation-size Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Village and gift market and other family-friendly events. Every ticket also comes with a free ride on the Centennial Wheel. Light Up the Lake will also offer sit-down dining with holiday-themed eats, signature cocktails, and seasonal brews.

Santa Baby Bar, opening November 17, 2021, returns for the holiday season with a multi-room, multi-level, over-the-top Christmas experience. All guests must reserve online, for no more than six people, and all tables are limited to no more than ninety minute intervals. 

Returning for its ninth season, The Peninsula Sky Rink (2,100 sq ft) is the only hotel skating rink in Chicago, located above Chicago’s bustling Michigan Avenue. Surrounded by Chicago’s skyscrapers and twinkling lights, the rink is tucked into a pine tree winter wonderland and bathed in festive music and snowflake lighting. The skating rink’s outdoor menu features a selection of hot beverages and snacks including hot chocolate, hot cider, and other treats, and is available for groups to rent or for private events. All monies collected include skate rental ($20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under) and are donated to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Hephzibah Children’s Association.

Winterland at Gallagher Way (November 19, 2021 – February 20, 2022)  will include a ceremonial tree lighting (November 29, 2021), ice skating on an 8,000 square-foot ice rink,Santa’s Workshop, wreath making workshops (December 4-5, 2021), holiday movie screenings (Thursdays in December 2021) and special programming at Hotel Zachary (weekends in November-December, 2021). New to this year’s transformation will be a special celebration of Hanukkah (December 5, 2021), ice bumper cars and skating lessons (January 2022) and curling lessons (February 2022). 

The popular Winter Wonderland returns to The Godfrey Hotel’s I|O Rooftop Lounge. The heated, clear-dome igloos on the rooftop’s outdoor portico will make guests feel like they are in their own personal snow globe. Order a hot cocktail and s’mores to roast over the outdoor firepits and enjoy winter in Chicago under the city lights. 

  • Minimum required to reserve one of the smaller (6-person) igloos is one bottle while the minimum for a larger igloo is $500. Due to extremely high demand igloos are only available for a two-hour window and fully close by 11PM (8PM on Sundays). 

ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago’s favorite holiday tradition, is back and better than ever (from November 19, 2021-January 2, 2022) with a new Pepper Family Wildlife Center at the heart of the zoo, a new holiday lights experience on the Main Mall, and an exciting new light show on the South Lawn. Also new this year: sensory-friendly visit times and an impressive 18-foot holiday tree sure to inspire festive oohs and aahs. Tickets are $5 per person (free admission on Mondays and Tuesdays).

Holiday Meals:

Guests at The Peninsula Chicago can enjoy Holiday Afternoon Tea in The Lobby beneath the 20-foot Christmas tree; the menu features a traditional English tea menu, including a variety of finger sandwiches, fruit and plain scones with house made preserves, Devonshire clotted cream, seasonal pastries with choux, chocolate, and winter fruit creations. (Vegan and gluten-free options are available). Festive Afternoon Tea is offered through January 9, 2022.

  • Guests at The Peninsula Chicago can celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (December 24-25, 2021) with a Christmas Eve prix-fixe dinner in The Lobby featuring Wagyu, Maine Lobster, Scallops and Peking Duck followed by a lush dessert buffet. A trio band will provide the entertainment and dinner is priced at $205 per person, with an option to add wine pairings for $65 per person. Or they can join for brunch in The Lobby on Christmas Day with an American four-course menu featuring à la carte options combined with buffet items served from a carving, seafood, cheese and charcuterie station and a decadent dessert buffet. A string quartet will provide the entertainment as well as a balloon artist and magician to entertain children. Brunch seatings (10:00 AM to 5:00PM) are priced at $275 per adult, $75 per child (five to 12 years).
  • Ring in 2022, Peninsula-style at The Lobby’s New Year’s Eve Gala (December 31, 2021), where a five-course prix-fixe dinner and dancing will be accompanied by a live band. The 21+ event is black tie optional and is priced at $205 per person with an additional $95 for wine pairings. Z Bar will also be ringing in 2022 with a ticketed soirée starting at 8:00 pm with an open bar, abundant passed hors d’oeuvres, DJ-ed entertainment and a Champagne toast at midnight. The party concludes at 1:00 am. Tickets for this 21+ event are $195 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. 

The Langham Chicago’s Holiday Afternoon Tea will return in partnership with Veuve Clicquot from November 17, 2021-January 9, 2022, where delicate pastries and savory petite sandwiches will be joined by Langham’s proprietary tea blends, seasonally-inspired treats and a special course from Veuve Clicquot.

© 2018 Galdones Photography
  • Travelle at The Langham will serve a Christmas Eve Entrée Special (priced at $82 per person) on December 24, 2021 from 5:00-10:00 PM; the menu will include a truffled chicken “pot pie” for two adorned with herb-roasted chicken, truffled confit thighs, black trumpets, and Caroline ruby sweet potatoes.
  • On December 25, 2021 Travelle will serve a Christmas Day Brunch (11:00AM – 3:00PM) with a variety of breakfast favorites, omelets made to order, artisanal cheese and cured meats, exquisite sushi and seafood options, and heavenly pastries. (The buffet is $195 per adult and $60 for children 5-12 years of age, and prepayment and reservations are required through the Travelle Tock.)
  • Or there is a six course Christmas Day Prix Fixe Dinner ($165 per adult) from 5:00-10:00 PM featuring a Royal Kaluga Caviar Amuse, Beet Root Panna Cotta Salad and Wild Mushroom Risotto appetizer, followed by a Roasted Prime Filet entrée and dessert service of Mont Blanc and Petit fours by Chef Nitin.
  • Ring in the New Year at Travelle at The Langham with a New Year’s Eve Prix Fixe Dinner on December 31, 2021 (5:00-10:00 PM) with a seven-course prix fixe menu featuring dishes including Nantucket Bay Scallop Ceviche, Hudson Valley Foie Gras appetizer, and Grilled Australian Wagyu NY Strip. To finish off a magnificent dining experience, guests can enjoy an indulgent dessert with Intermezzo featuring lemon with Grand Marnier and an extravagant Chocolate Experience with Manjari mousse, praline cremeux, and hazelnut ice cream. A splendid wine collection will also be available à la carte. Reservations must be made in advance through the Travelle Tock and prepayment is required at $190 per adult.

Private experiences with Santa, dinner packages and private events offered by Swissôtel Chicago for the 2021 holiday season include: 

  • Holiday Tradition Package: Stop by Santa’s Presidential Pad with up  to 15 guests to visit the man of the season and overindulge in unlimited Swiss hot cocoa, champagne and holiday treats including Candied Orange SnoBall Cookies, Reindeer Chow, Eggnog Truffles and more. The experience also includes cookie decorating, crafts with Make to Celebrate, face painting and letter writing, complete with a visit to Santa’s Post Office. $50 of  the total price will be donated to SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. Available to book every Saturday and Sunday for $600/hour from December 4 – December 19, 2021; 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.
  • Family Dinner Package: Gather with six or more loved ones for an over-the-top holiday dinner in  the Santa Suite, Duplex Suite, Vitality Suite or Chef’s Table Virtual Suite. Enjoy a 4-course  holiday-inspired menu by Chef Dan McGee, with menu items including Roast Chicken with red  cabbage, spätzle, raclette cheese, chicken jus, Pomegranate Braised Lamb Shanks with a  pomegranate bordelaise, Chocolate Peppermint Cake and more. Holiday crafts are available  upon request. Dinners are available to book daily beginning November 20-December 26, 2021 at $150 per adult and $50 per child.  
  • VIP Reception in Santa Suite: Whether it’s a  corporate holiday party or family reunion, the Santa Suite can fit up to 50 people for private  events beginning November 20-December 26, 2021. Work with the events team to curate an  experience with festive cocktails and a menu featuring Chilled Potato Soup & Caviar Shooter,  Smoked Duck Breast Marmalade, Curry Chicken Salad Sliders, Pecan & Roasted White Chocolate Tarts and more.  

Hotel Packages:

© 2018 Galdones Photography

A series of Yuletide specials this holiday season at The Langham Chicago (available November 19, 2021 – January, 2, 2022) include Oh Christmas Tree (including luxurious one-bedroom suite accommodations with a decorated Christmas tree in-room, deconstructed champagne cocktails inspired by the season; and bespoke cheese and charcuterie; rates beginning at $1,100) and Dive into the Season (including lavish guest room accommodations, $100 food and beverage credit for poolside snacks and beverages, two hours of exclusive access to Chuan Spa’s indoor pool and holiday-themed floats; rates begin at $825.

© 2018 Galdones Photography
  • Or splurge on A Signature Christmas in a 2,400 sq. ft. suite with floor-to-ceiling windows featuring panoramic views of Chicago, a four-course, in-residence dinner prepared by Executive Chef Damion Henry, in-suite dining entertainment, Club Lounge access and a custom-designed holiday tree set in the parlor. (Rates start at $13,525.)

At The Peninsula Chicago, holiday packages like the Holly Jolly Family Holiday Package and Merry and Bright Couple’s Holiday Package include such amenities as an in-room holiday tree or Menorah, holiday welcome amenity or bottle of wine/Champagne upon arrival, access to library of holiday themed movies, books and games for the kids or a $100 gift card to the nearby Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue store, daily Peninsula breakfast and daily valet parking. Rates start at $1,250, packages available from November 26-December 31, 2021.

  • For six days, The Peninsula Chicago is offering special pricing for a Cyber sale commencing Thanksgiving Day (November 25, 2021) through Travel Tuesday (November 30, 2021) for 20% off rooms and suites on stays from December 1, 2021 – April 30, 2022. and special pricing on gift cards. The offers will only be available on the hotel’s website, or by calling the hotel directly.

For the eighth consecutive year, Swissôtel Chicagos Presidential Suite will be transformed into Santa’s home-away-from-the-Pole for the holiday season, welcoming Chicagoans and visitors alike. The Santa Suite offers sweeping views of the city, and is filled with 17 Christmas trees, festive decor, games and holiday craft kits for the kids, cookie decorating stations, “Letter to Santa” packs, and more. Book the Holiday Penthouse Hideaway (starting November 20 through December 26, 2021, from $1,500 per night). 

  • For a slightly more competitive price-point, consider a stay in an Elf Decorated Holiday Room featuring a Christmas tree and holiday room decor as well as a complimentary holiday amenity (Rates begin at $329 per night.)

Theatrical Performances:

A&A Ballet’s “The Art Deco Nutcracker” set in 1920s America and featuring Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, will play at the Athenaeum Theater on December 4, 2021. 

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a must-see Chicago holiday tradition now in its fifth decade and enjoyed by nearly two million theatergoers, is back playing at Goodman’s Albert Theatre, from November 20 – December 31, 2021.

A Christmas Symphony Tour, a new Christmas tradition by the world’s biggest-selling soprano and GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist, Sarah Brightman, will play at the Auditorium Theatre on December 10, 2021.

“Home Alone” in Concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the beloved holiday favorite will return to the big screen at Symphony Center; John Williams’ delightful, Academy Award-nominated score will be performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Riccardi Muti, from November 26-28, 2021.

Leslie Odom, Jr.’s The Christmas Tour brings the GRAMMY®- and Tony®-Award Winning vocalist, songwriter, author and actor to Chicago for a one-night holiday season concert at the CIBC Theatre on December 4, 2021. 

Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagined classic The Nutcracker follows young Marie and the Nutcracker Prince on a Christmas Eve journey through the 1893 World’s Fair; this annual holiday tradition celebrating the magic of the season and the rich cultural heritage of Chicago returns to the Joffrey Ballet from December 4-26, 2021. 

“’Twas the Night Before…” by Cirque du Soleil i is the exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil can imagine a vibrant acrobatic spectacle about the joy of sharing and friendship at the The Chicago Theatre, playing from November 26-December 5, 2021

ZYDECO, GUMBO, AND CAJUN HERITAGE: IT’S ALL PART OF THE CAJUN BAYOU FOOD TRAIL

Follow the Cajun Bayou Food Trail: A REAL Taste of Louisiana Cajun Country

Just 45 minutes from New Orleans, the Cajun Bayou Food Trail is a journey through the heart of Lafourche Parish and the ultimate road trip for those wanting to explore Louisiana’s food scene. Known as the Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, this region of the state takes its culinary delights so seriously that the name Lafourche is French for the fork. While some will explain, patiently, the term is a geographical reference to a split in the  Mississippi River, we’re thinking that any place with a name synonymous with an eating utensil surely knows its way around a menu.

So grab your car keys and your sunglasses—but you won’t need to bring your own Lafourche as any place on the parish’s Cajun Bayou Food Trail have their own—and hit the road. There are currently 18 restaurants on the trail including the recently added Cinclare Southern Bistro.

“We’re thrilled to be included on the Louisiana Cajun Bayou Food Trail,” says Michael Dalmau, the owner of Cinclare Southern Bistro. “The restaurants that span this historic waterway might be different in what they do and how they do it but know this …. they all do it well. In South Louisiana – and especially up and down the Bayou – feeding and serving friends and family is not only what we do to pass a good time, but it’s how we show our love and support. It’s part of our DNA and that’s why we’re so good at it.”

All the stops on the trail feature authentic food accompanied by the unparalleled Southern hospitality.

According to my friend Mindy Bianca, chefs down this way tell how their favorite recipes feature the finest local ingredients along with a true love of their surroundings and heritage. The latter means treating guests the same as family–well, almost, you don’t have to clean up after dinner like you would at your mom’s. All this makes navigating the Cajun Bayou Food Trail an unparalleled culinary and travel experience.

The lives of the people of Lafourche Parish are fully intertwined with the bodies of water that are accessible throughout the region, most notably Bayou Lafourche, a 100-mile waterway that bisects the parish, and the Gulf of Mexico. Residents of the area view the Bayou and Gulf as their personal pantries, finding seafood and other delicacies within and along their waters. If you live here, you’re most likely not going to get kicked you out of the parish for not knowing how to whip up a tasty gumbo (though we can’t promise that’s true) but fortunately most if not all figure it out from an early age using recipes passed down through the  generations. That’s why those following the trail get to taste dishes authentic traditional foods that are part of the Parish’s gastronomic heritage–prepared and served as they have been for as long as some can remember. But that doesn’t mean some chefs don’t do their own riff with added ingredients or other ways to make them uniquely their own.

Celebrating not only the restaurants and local food purveyors that honor the culinary customs of the region, the parish also hosts six festivals and events dedicated to honoring and preserving its distinctive traditions. Think La Fete Des Vieux Temps in Raceland, Louisiana

Calling it a cultural gumbo, Mindy says that “restaurants lean toward plenty of fresh seafood and run the gamut from mom-and-pop operations to sophisticated dining rooms.

“The unifying element is that whether it’s fried shrimp at Spahr’s, a restaurant that now has three locations and that has been a staple here for more than 50 years, or an elegant and savory alligator-and-andouille sausage cheesecake appetizer at Kincare, which offers craft beverages and a more upscale dining experience in the heart of downtown Thibodaux, your meal is going to be both delicious and memorable.”

Visitors and locals alike are encouraged to pick up a Food Trail passport and map from any of the participating restaurants or download it from this website, then eat their way through the parish. Collect enough passport stamps and you’ll earn your way into a comfy Food Trail T-shirt. Trust us and order one size larger before hitting the trail. In these ever-changing and unpredictable times, requirements for completing a passport have been modified and the Food Trail can now be experienced more “virtually,” meaning that participating Trail restaurants offer curbside service.

For more information about the dining scene in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, to download your passport and map, or to check out some pictures and start dreaming of crawfish and crabs, gumbo and gator, please visit http://www.lacajunbayou.com. The local businesses up and down the Bayou are ready to fill up your plate and offer you a lafourche to use.  

Other places to dine include Rose’s Cafe, Holly Marie’s Seafood Market in Raceland, Punch’s Seafood Market in Lockport, Harry’s Poboys in Larose, Politz’s in Thibodeaux, Cher-Aimee’s in Cutoff, and C. Moran’s in Golden Meadow.

What to Do in Lafourche Parish

You can’t eat all the time, right? In between meals check out some or all of the following stops:

Swamp Tours

Described as an otherworldly experience, like time travel into the state’s prehistoric past by  touring Lafourche Parish’s swamplands. Tour options includes the 2 Da Swamp Bayou Tours & Museum trips to Bayou Des Allemands with traditional Cajun music, and museum displays of artifacts Des Allemands’ early years. Airboat Tours by Arthur Matherne, open seasonally, is a high-octane thrill rides on its fleet of airboats. Torres Cajun Swamp Tours’ guides takes visitor the history and ecology of wetlands’ Bayou Boeuf.

 E.D. White Historic Site

The White family was once among the Louisiana’s political elite. Patriarch Edward Douglas White was the state’s governor in the 1830s; his son and namesake became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in the 1890s. The elder White’s home is now a Louisiana State Museum site and is a step back into the past showcasing the state’s history. Built from cypress in the Creole Plantation style in 1825, White purchased the home, re-imaging it as a Greek Revival mansion. Learn about the White family, the history of both the home’s history along with that of Chitimacha Indians and Cajun settlers, sugar plantation owners and the slaves that worked the fields in service of them by taking a tour of the E.D. White Historic Site in Thibodaux.

Restaurants in Thibodaux

Thibodaux’s restaurants and fresh markets reflect the local culture and cuisine. Top-rated restaurant spots include Fremin’s Restaurant, where you can take in the architecture of Thibodaux’s downtown area. The food is prepared with a view into the kitchen and the duck-and-andouille gumbo is like heaven in a bowl. Head to Off the Hook, a down-home spot with awesome po-boys, fried seafood and more gumbo! And try something different at the Cajun Potato Kitchen, a quirky and casual restaurant serving huge baked potatoes loaded with Cajun toppings. It’s fun and different and popular with the university crowd.  Get a full list of locals’ favorite restaurants.

Bayou Country Children’s Museum

You’d be hard pressed to find another museum in the U.S.—or really anywhere—that’s a Cajun-themed children’s museum. At Bayou Country Children’s Museum in Thibodaux brings together Cajun history, education and fun, making it a great stop for family fun. Here children can play on a full-size sugar harvester, toss beads from a Mardi Gras float, climb aboard a shrimp boat and more.

Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building

The wetlands flowing through Southern Louisianna are a distinct part of Lafourche Parish where more than 100 miles of bayou meander throughout the parish. The Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building, located in Lockport is the place to learn how traditional Cajun boats were constructed, including their iconic pirogue boats and flat-bottomed vessels known locally as putt-putts that once common in the region’s bayous.

Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center

Part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve in Thibodaux, the center’s mission is to preserve Cajun tradition and offers such programs as their free Cajun music jam sessions every Monday afternoon, a Cajun-French meetup on Tuesdays, historical Thibodaux walking tours and boat tours of Bayou Lafourche. While there, stop at the Center’s museum store, which has Cajun music recordings, crafts and books for sale.

America’s Wetland Birding Trail

The trail, made up of 22 parishes includes Lafourche which is part of the Grand Isle Loop. The loop includes sections of Louisiana’s best-known barrier island as well as inland birding destinations teeming with shorebirds and seabirds. Download more information about the Grand Isle Loop on the Wetland Birding Trail.

Charter Fishing

Here are both a full list of charter boat companies in the area as well as saltwater fishing in Louisiana.

Bayou Lafourche Folklife and Heritage Museum

Located in a 1910 bank building in Lockport, , enjoy learning about the area’s fascinating history.

Mardi Gras in Lafourche Parish

They really know how to celebrate the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day or as it is also known—Fat Tuesday. Typically there are more than a dozen parades roll through the towns of Golden Meadow, Galliano, Larose, as well as the parish seat of Thibodaux. Learn more about the parade schedules.

Shrimp and Tasso Pasta

Recipe courtesy of Bourgeois Meat Market, a stop on the Cajun Bayou Culinary Trail

1 lb. Bourgeois Tasso

2 lb. shrimp

1 large onion

1 large bell pepper

1 talk of celery

1 can Rotel

1 qt. heavy whipping cream

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

1 bag bow tie pasta

Boil Bourgeois Tasso in a pot with just a little water until tender.

Add onion, celery, bell pepper, Rotel, and shrimp and smother down.

Add heavy whipping cream and let mixture come to a rolling boil.

Lower fire and add cheese to thicken.

Combine with cooked pasta and serve.

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