Cat's Corner

Catherine De Orio

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Greetings! It’s always bittersweet to get to the end of a season. Thank you all for being such loyal viewers and enthusiastic diners. We couldn’t do it without you! This week we are airing a special episode that features some of the small, mostly counter service gems around our beautiful city. My favorite is Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park close to where I grew up. I have been ordering the same thing for over 30 years: Italian beef extra juicy with sweet AND hot peppers, fries, and an Italian ice. After I’ve been away from Chicago for a while I always stop there. Luckily my parents are close by, and it’s an easy stop from O’Hare! To me, it is instant comfort.

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Catherine De Orio

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Hello! This week we visit Cindy’s Rooftop at the Chicago Athletic Association in the Loop, Sunset Pho in West Rogers Park, and Kabobi on Kedzie. Cindy’s looms high over the city with spectacular views of Millennium Park. It’s a favorite perch for me in the warmer months and a go-to when guests are in town. This week, I chatted with Andrew Macker, Director of Operations and General Manager, and Nandini Khaund, Spirit Guide (a hip name for the bar director!). Here’s what they had to say:

Cat: I love the large format dishes at Cindy's. Walk us through what one can expect from the Cindy's menu.

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Catherine De Orio

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Ciao! We are all things Italian here at Check, Please! this week and WTTW is rolling out a new show tonight with my friend, who is also an incredibly talented chef – Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde. This week we are revisiting some of our favorite Italian haunts, and so I chatted with Italian chef Michael Ponzio, the executive chef at the illustrious Medinah Country Club. Michael is of Italian descent and has trained with the top Italian chefs in the country. He lifts the curtain of the country club kitchen to show us the incredible sustainable food system he is building. Here’s what he had to say:

Cat: You have trained under some of the best Italian chefs from Chicago (and in the country)...Tony Mantuano, Missy Robbins, Rick Tramonto and the list goes on. Tell us a bit about your background, the best lessons you learned, and describe your cooking philosophy.

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Catherine De Orio

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As you know, I love all things Italian and so this week I chatted with James and Rachel De Marte, the talented couple behind the Italian eatery Pisolino. James spent his formative years as a chef cooking in Italy, and his wife Rachel runs a successful event planning company here in Chicago.

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Catherine De Orio

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This week I spoke with Briana Cardone, chef and owner of Mambo Italiano, about growing up Italian and about her restaurant.

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