Sometimes, I look at these shows and I just laugh. The worst show — I can’t remember the name of it [I believe he’s referring to “Restaurant: Impossible”] — is with the crew-cut guy, I think he’s an ex-Marine. He’s got giant biceps and he’s barking at everyone, “You guys suck. We’re going to reinvent your restaurant.” Why is this a show? Because in reality, we’ve all known how to open a restaurant. When we did Next and Aviary, we came into a space that we knew we were going to totally renovate, but we did it in a more romantic fashion where we got six to eight key people who understood what we wanted to accomplish. It was a conversation. It wasn’t “I’m going to take a sledgehammer and blow out this wall!” Come on. I get that it makes for good TV and it pays everybody, but it would be nice if the dining and viewing public would be less interested in drama and more interested in true creativity.
Chef Grant Achatz on reality cooking shows, the new documentary Spinning Plates, his kids and more. Read it: More Interested in True Creativity: A Conversation with Grant Achatz
(Illustration by Dmitry Samarov)
What’s the oddest/most interesting ingredient combo?
KP: It’s a moving target, always adapting and evolving. One of our insights was we learned you can intensify the flavor of blueberries if you cook them with cinnamon. Likewise, if you’re doing something with pumpkin. You want to make pumpkin taste even more like pumpkin? The secret is bay leaves.
Read more in Drive-Thru: The Flavor Matchmakers: Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg
Did you know about the Old Town School of Folk Music growing up here?
I grew up in Marquette Park, which is like another world from where the Old Town School of Folk Music is. But I grew up listening to a lot of traditional Irish music and we had a player piano in the house, and I listened to a lot of older, Tin Pan Alley kind of music. Then I went to school at DePaul, and that’s when I became aware of the Old Town School of Folk Music. When I was up in Lincoln Park going to college, I had put together a lot of the old Irish music that I was listening to as a kid, and I noticed it was all being played at the Old Town School of Folk Music in the sixties and stuff. It was kind of a revelation.
Read more: Interview: Harmonizing with John C. Reilly at the Old Town School of Folk Music
"They popped up on MySpace. That’s how long ago it was." Bob Regan, aka Bryant Mumble, talks about becoming the voice of the Windy City Rollers.
Read more: The Evolution of Bryant Mumble
When you were incarcerated, you became interested in theater after reading a book on black playwrights—was there a particular play or playwright that grabbed your attention?
"It was Douglas Turner Ward’s play, Day of Absence. It is a political satire that I thought was hilarious. Once, I was in "the hole" for six days and was allowed to take one book with me. I reached for a revolutionary book but I accidentally picked up this anthology of black playwrights. I read it and I said that when I got out of isolation, I was going to get the craziest guys I knew in the prison and start a drama group."
Whether it’s through improv, sketch comedy or stand-up, Tara DeFrancisco has made her mark on Chicago’s comedy scene. The Ohio native, named “Funniest Person in Chicago” by the Chicago Free Press and listed as “One to Watch” in Time Out Chicago, teaches improv and performs all around the Windy City at popular spots including ComedySportz and Second City. Currently, DeFrancisco can be seen as “Molly” in “Delusions of Grandeur,” a “loosely scripted, Generation-Y” comedy series that airs on BLIP.TV.
Here, she talks about her love for improv, the impact of Internet television and the importance of nurturing Chicago’s comedy and arts community.
Read on: The Impact of Improv: An Interview with Tara DeFrancisco
For dancer and filmmaker LaNita Joseph, when it comes to African-American women and hair, there is no room for “relaxers.” “I think all black women should go natural,” she said. Here, Joseph, founder and artistic director of the Anita Davis Dance Theater, talks about The Monologues of My Nappy Hair, a “dance drama” that addresses and challenges the standards of beauty and image in today’s society.