Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicago's Most Fit & Fabulous Foodies

From left: Liz Grossman, Chris LaMorte, Kelli Zink, Steve Dolinsky and Heather Sperling.

Eating out can be hazardous to your health—when you're a professional food & drink writer. I've seen my weight go up and down 10 pounds to 15 pounds to 20 pounds for the last several years because of the rich foods and beverages I must consume in order to do my job effectively.

I've always, however, taken fitness very serious and maintained a regular workout regime. I've always indulged in the very power-driven Forrest yoga and as well as cycling in the city, but only recently did I take up Flywheel in River North.

The intense, indoor cycling experience takes the usual spinning class to the next level, offering high-tech bikes, stadium seating, light weight training, and extreme climbs and descents. Classes average 45 to 60 minutes, and immediately after you're rewarded with a complimentary piece of fresh fruit, which certainly holds off your appetite for a couple of hours.

The hard work has paid off (Forrest yoga+cycling+Flywheel) and I now approach food and drinks more responsibly when I dine out. My routine satisfies my lifestyle and work schedule, but everyone's different.

Here's what some of my colleagues do in order to stay in phenomenal shape . . .

Second Fundraiser For MANA Line Cook Scores Some Very Big Names

Ashley Pruneau (Photo: Facebook)

Thus far, $9,200 has been raised for Ashley Pruneau, the MANA Food Bar line cook who was brutally attacked by a stranger in early July.

The goal is to collect $20,000, so a number of prominent restaurants have collaborated to throw another benefit to help pay for her mounting medical bills. The event happens 7pm-2am August 8 at Darkroom with a $15 donation at the door.

Food and wine will be included in the ticket price. Who's participating?

Lolla Brunching...Where To Dine This Weekend

Nellcôte's pancakes are made from its house-milled flour. (Photo: Nellcôte)

Before heading to Lolla this weekend for the music extravaganzas, you'll need to fuel up. But instead of hitting up the typical hotel brunches, why not give these spots a little local love?!

Nellcôte's recently launched Weekend Review prix-fixe brunch is $18 a person and includes an assortment of house-milled breads, pastries, cheeses and house-made charcuterie. Guests also get to choose one entree, such as lobster hash with poached eggs, quiche Lorraine with smoked bacon or pancakes with seasonal fruit. Kitchen-inspired cocktails include Verde Maria (a unique blend of El Milagro tequila, cilantro, tomatillo, green apple and jalapeño) and the Nellcôte Bellini (raspberry jam, peach nectar and Champagne). Tables with at least four diners get a complimentary bottle of prosecco. Deejays spin rock 'n' roll, so get ready for a party atmosphere. 10am-3pm Saturday and Sunday.

A brunch fave at 25 Degrees is the Banana Pecan French Toast. It's $10, and for an extra $15 you can add a bottomless Mimosa or Bloody Mary experience. Additional brunch cocktails: Kentucky Brunch (A-1 rye, apricot marmalade, peach bitters) and Spiced Cucumber Collins (Henrick's gin, lime, shishito pepper, cucumber, mint).

The Inside Track To Elizabeth—Fall's Hottest Restaurant

Shrimp noodle scampi, one of the new items set for Elizabeth's menu. (Photos: Jennifer Moran)

"I have a feeling that this will be up there with openings like Schwa and Alinea, as well as Noma (in Denmark)," said Scott Noorman of the forthcoming Elizabeth that's set to open in Lincoln Square in mid-September.

"In fact, I would say it's a melding of those three concepts," Noorman, who will act as wine director, added.

Elizabeth is owned by chef Iliana Regan, who used to do some pretty popular underground dinners at her North Side home. According to Noorman, she is adamant about foraging, and will use those products in her cuisine as well as produce from an onsite garden. Yes, in a sense it will be a farm-to-table concept, however, the most fascinating aspect of this new eatery will be its ticketing system that will be highly synchronized.