Technology Provides Infinite Food Resources

I’m so lucky to live in Chicago. There are a ton of great chefs that have opened some of the world’s best restaurants.  It is the town where Matt Maloney and Mike Evans conceived GrubHub and where Open Table’s Chuck Templeton resides. We’ve know our food here!

Whether I want to eat food, read about food or make food, I always head to my tech gadgets. Here’s some of my favorite resources:

Eat Food: I love GrubHub. Whether my family has a taste for Chinese, Pizza or Italian, I can just whip out my app and order from our favorite restaurants. Simplicity at its best. When we’re ready to go out for dinner, Open Table is a must. It’s easy to see when reservations are available at the hottest new restaurants. Earning points and being able to make reservations from anywhere at anytime is awesome.

Read About and Make Food: These two categories roll into one, since many food blogs contain recipes. One of my favorite blogs is Werd. I search under man food and it comes up with all of these great food ideas and recipes that I probably would have never have come up with on my own. Blue Kitchen is another great blog that has simple recipes with a ton of photos. Finally, for those with a sweet tooth, Evil Shenanigans is the blog for you.

If you don’t want to eat, read about or make food there are plenty of options to watch it. From the Food Network and the Cooking Channel to PBS to movies, there’s are plenty of options to keep you sated. One of my favorites: Julie & Julia.

I want to know what your favorite food-related apps and blogs are. Share them with me on Twitter: @RyanKDean

The views and options posted on this blog are my own and are not representative of the views of any party or organization I am affiliated with.

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Wine Lovers Flock to Technology For New Discoveries

I love technology and I love to go out and have a great time with my friends and family. When these two things blend, it makes life even better!

I shared with you earlier about my experience at City Winery and today I want to talk about how wine has impacted the tech sector and vice versa.

Those of us who love wine are always exploring what new blends have made it into the marketplace. Many of us even belong to a wine of the month club. Hey, who doesn’t love wine delivered to their front door.

Even this wine lover’s staple has joined the tech world. ClubW just received $3.1 million dollars in venture capital money to bring personalization to their subscribers.  Members fill out taste quizzes and provide reviews and feedback on each shipment, resulting in a personalized profile. As time goes on, a machine algorithm will continue to tailor selectors to a subscriber’s palate. Pretty cool!

Sometimes, I wish I had a sommelier with me when I’m out shopping for dinner party parings and for BYO adventures. Luckily, there are a ton of apps in the marketplace that can be quickly downloaded to save the day. The Daily Grape is a pretty awesome app for Apple Products. Gary Vaynercuk post educational post every day. He’s a pretty cool dude. Pair It is another neat piece of technology. The developers of this app partnered with chef and wine expert Bruce Riezenman to provide you with 20,000 food and wine matches.

Technology is even helping us find local wine events in our area and the area that we are traveling in. Another cool app – aptly named Wine Events – lets you search for local wine events within its simple interface. Take it with you everywhere!

Sometimes you just need to stay local. We’re lucky that in Chicago, we have a great set of wine bars and a great magazine to provide us with recommendations. Chicago Magazine recently named Ada St., Bar Pastoral, The Bluebird, RM Champagne Salon, Telegraph and Vera their top six wine bars in Chicago. Time to check those off the list!

Tell me, how do you discover new wines? Do you use technology or get referrals from friends? Tweet me: @RyanKDean.

The views and options posted on this blog are my own and are not representative of the views of any party or organization I am affiliated with.

Sunday Funday – Dean Style

Kiddieos with in-laws, then a day on the town with my beautiful bride and friends, we found ourselves having a nice cup of Joe at the Palmerhouse prepping to wake-up from a long night of babysitting Zsa Zsa von Hinsdale (my mother’s shitzu) and a cranky kid.  We had Book of Mormon on our mind …

Book of Mormon is playing at the Bank of America Theater.  Absolutely hysterical, though extremely crass, offensive, and controversial; I really enjoyed the writers/creators take on this religion. “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone collaborated on the book, score and lyrics with “Avenue Q” co-writer Robert Lopez.

I do not want to ruin this for anyone by telling the story line or explaining what I thought were the funniest part, because it ALL was!  If you feel like it, Tweet me your side crunching one-liner and we can dialogue.

If not, go see it and be ready to be slapped across the face; it will offend you at some point, maybe the whole time, but will also make your face hurt from laughter.  Aside from the hysterics, all of the performers were absolutely amazing artists.  We are really lucky to have such a Broadway presence here in Chicago. The talent is phenomenal!

Then we were off to Sunda, Rockit Ranch’s Chic-Asian venture. For those who have not been, get there. For those who have, let’s raise our glasses and give this place another standing “O” … amazing as always!!  We did a four-person round table of sushi, signature dishes, rolls, and capped the night off in a ‘Ridiculous’ manner.

Everything was awesome, but the highlight was watching the making of the Stuffed Avocado … how do they get the spicy tuna, shallots, and Japanese salsa in there?  You’ll have to check it … sushi-magicians!  Props to our server Christina, she was a blast.

If you are not familiar with how this came about, Billy Dec, Brad Young and Arturo Gomez positioned Chicago through feedback on “A Chicago Thing” post closing of Martini ranch.

All the while, the division playoffs were on and none of us cared.  Talk about cultured!!!

The views and options posted on this blog are my own and are not representative of the views of any party or organization I am affiliated with.

Hope and Charity Rise from Times of Despair

lilyAt the beginning of this new year, I’d like to take the time to pay tribute to four stellar individuals who passed last month. They were all people who have touched my life, my family’s lives and the lives of so many others as well.  While they are no longer here, their memories will live on in the memories of others and through contributions made to their favorite organizations.

  • David F. Dean, Sr.: This fine gentleman was my grandfather. He served time in the United States Army, worked for Banker’s Life and Casualty for 46 years, and was a member of the Blackhawk Curling Club. My grandfather was an awesome man and I miss him very much. Even at the end of his life he was selfless, thinking of Agrace HospiceCare, Inc, where he requested any memorial contributions be donated. This non-profit organization provided my grandfather with great care and my family with a lot of comfort.
  • Stanley R. Racki Jr.: Stanley is the big brother of one of my very close friends, Tim Racki. Children were Stanley’s life; he was an elementary teacher for Downers Grove District 58 at Fairmount and Whittier Schools. It was only appropriate that all donations in his honor have been sent to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). I wonder sometimes if he’s chatting with Cubs Great Ron Santo about how awesome JDRF is.
  • John Dunbar Battistoni: I had the honor of knowing John for eight great years, serving as his coach for three.  In his memory, his family has set up a memorial scholarship fund in his honor at Nazareth Academy.  Donations are also being accepted for the St. Cletus Endowment Fund. I hope much educational support comes out of his death.
  • Natalie A. Kaiser: Many of you know about my work with the I AM PK Foundation. Natalie was the mother of Phillip, and served as a surrogate mother to myself and many others.  I know that despite of her sudden passing, her friends and family have found some peace in knowing that mother and son have been united. Together, they are watching donations pour into the I AM PK Foundation, which dedicates awareness to testing athletes for undiagnosed heart conditions.
While December was a sad month, faith, family and friends, plus this poem by Mary Stevenson “Footprints in the Sand” have helped to get me through.  I also take solace in knowing that their deaths were not in vain and that good work will come from the donations made to their organizations.  Please consider these great causes as you look to make the difference in lives of others in 2013 and beyond.

The Best of the Best of 2012

new year

There’s no better way to look back on 2012 then to review the year-end lists other organizations have compiled. I’ve always wanted them to be compiled in one spot, so I thought I would do this for you!

Before I dive into these lists, I want to share one of the coolest honors that happened this past year. Home is where the heart is and my town, Downers Grove, ranked as the eighth friendliest town according to Forbes. In my opinion, this is the best blog of the year.

That wasn’t the only cool thing that happened in 2012. Here are the best of the best of 2012:

The Top Ten Most Viral Videos: Kony takes number one on Mashable’s list. Not only did the video take this honor, but it was the most viral video in history.

The Best Books of 2012: No matter what genre you read or what age you are, NPR has a best books list for you all. I’m happy to say I’ve read many of them this year.

Chicago’s Best Restaurants: There is no better way to rate Chicago restaurants than with Michelin Stars. I’ve been to many of these establishments. Have you?

The Best Microbrews: Ask Men developed a great list of microbrews and their corresponding breweries. This list is enough to make your mouth water.

The Best Android and iPhone Game: Whether your pledge your phone allegiance to Android or Apple, there is a game for you on this list. Angry Birds Star Wars anyone?

The Best of Chicago in Photos: The Chicago Reader compiled some great photos that encompass the best of Chicago. These photos are simply gorgeous.

Interesting Facts About the U.S. Economy: This is a not-so-funny list of facts, but nonetheless a great list from The Economic Collapse.

For Everyone Else: Just in case there was a list I missed that piqued your interest, Google has a list of every topic you can imagine.

What will 2013 have in store for you? HAPPY NEW YEAR, make it awesome.

– “Opportunity knocks at the strangest times. It’s not the time that matters, But how you answer the door.” -Steve Gray

New Year’s Eve: Chicago Style

Chicago-Style New Year’s Eve parties aren’t topped with neon relish and sport peppers, but they are some of the hottest events of the year.

While toasting the New Year at home is just fine, especially if you can’t get a babysitter, this is the time of the year when you can dress up and paint the town red. Many of the huge hotel bashes are sold out, so why not stay local? Here’s my roundup of local establishments that are throwing one heck of a party this year:

Mrs. Murphy & Son’s Irish Bistro: For only $50 to $75 bucks, celebrate Irish style with an open bar, appetizers, party favors and a champagne toast. Sounds like a good time to me!

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba: There’s no cover to ring the New Year in over tapas. From 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., cocktails are half price. This Lettuce Entertain You gem will also be providing a champagne toast when the clock strikes midnight.

Rockit Bar & Grill: All of Billy Dec’s establishments are hosting some sort of event, but this one is a great deal. For $95 to $125, you will get to partake in an open bar, appetizers, a dinner buffet, party favors and a midnight champagne toast. Oh, and to cure the hangover you might have, Rockit is including a 20% of coupon for New Year’s Day brunch.

NewYearsEve

Big Star: I know you wouldn’t think about this Wicker Park gem for New Year’s Eve. There’s no cover and you can spend the night with specialty cocktails and tacos. That sounds like my kind of party.

Fat Cat: This Uptown bar is hosting a costume contest. Come dressed in your best fedora or flapper dress for a 1920’s-themed bash. A $100 gift card is on the line. There’s no cover for this event. Canapes and mini-sandwiches are on the menu along with Templeton Rye Prohibition cocktails.

Where are you spending New Year’s Eve? Share your neighborhood gems with me on Twitter: @RyanKDean.

Give The Gift of an Experience

I bet many of you are looking for a last-minute gift for that hard-to-shop-for person who has EVERYTHING! Those loved ones make us twist our brains about what the heck we are going to get them.

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I’ve done a lot of thinking about this throughout the holiday season and then it dawned on me. The best part of the holiday season is getting to spend time with these loved ones. Why not give them the gift of an experience? Things break, but memories last forever. Here’s my recommendations for some great experience gifts:

For the Foodie: Every foodie loves to go out and try a new restaurant. I know I do! Why not give a gift certificate to the new, latest hip restaurant? Many of us won’t splurge on a great meal, so I like to give my loved ones a reason to. I’ve heard great things about Baum & Brix.

For the Drinker: I’ve had great experiences at City Winery and Finch’s Beer Co. this past year. How about taking your loved ones out for a tour and tasting at one of these lovely facilities?

For the Car Lover: I can’t stop talking about how much fun I had at the Autobahns! I highly recommend giving the experience if you can afford it. It makes a great gift for yourself too!

For the Daredevil: I loved my experience flyboarding. Think about what daredevil idea your loved one wants to do and help make their dream come true.

What experiences are you giving as gifts this holiday season? Share your ideas with me on Twitter @RyanKDean.