Posts Tagged Chicago Tribune

Phil Vettel of the Tribune Selects Eli’s Turtle Cheesecake as one his Top 5 Taste Picks

Food glorious food, and other Taste tidbits 5 Taste picks

Phil Vettel
Published June 23, 2005

Our restaurant critic’s picks:

Crab legs, Grazie! Ristorante, booth 57: Messy but good, Grazie’s steamed crab legs are cut open for easy meat extraction. A real treat.

Chopped salad, Lou Malnati’s, booth 29: I love the cheese pizza here, but I’m crazy about the Malnati salad, a mix of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese, genoa salami and mushrooms. It’s tasty, refreshing, healthy–and a relative bargain at six tickets (the Taste portion is just three tickets).

Wagyu steak, Saloon Steakhouse, Gourmet Dining Pavilion (Friday only): You’ve heard about Kobe beef, you know it’s super-expensive–this is probably the least-expensive way to try a sample. (Wagyu is the proper name for Kobe-style beef raised outside Japan’s Kobe prefecture.)

Turtle cheesecake, Eli’s Cheesecake, booth 18: Sweat-soaked workers throughout the Taste site are jealous of Eli’s workers, who don’t slave over charcoal fires or scald their hands with hot oil. They just hand out slices of well-chilled cheesecake to an adoring crowd. What can you do? It’s great cheesecake.

Alligator pizza, Reggio’s Pizza, booth 50: Actually I have no idea whether this is any good. But I have to try it. I just wish I could have been at the meeting where this suggestion was made.

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Tribune Good Eating Section Picks Taste of Chicago and Eli’s 25th Birthday Celebration as Best Bet of the Week


Taking a bite of the city

Published June 22,


The 25th Taste of Chicago offers a chance to sample dishes from more than 65 Chicago restaurants. There are also cooking demonstrations, live music and kids’ activities. $7 for a strip of 11 tickets, good at any food booth. Friday through July 4. Grant Park. Eli’s Cheesecake sponsors a 25th birthday celebration with a 2,500-pound cheesecake. Free. 1 p.m. Saturday. Buckingham Fountain. Information, 312-744-3315.


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Wright College hosts 6th ITKA World Friendship Karate Tournament; Mahmoud Bambouyani recognized in the Chicago Tribune for his committment to his family and the Bam community

For over 20 years, Eli’s Cheesecake has been fortunate to be part of the
expanded Wright Community. This includes Portage Park and many of the unique
businesses in the community. For most of those years, there has been no greater
friend to this community than Mahmoud Bambouyani. Well known throughout the
United States for his skill as a karate master and instructor, Mahmoud is always
there for his family, students, friends and neighbors.

In December of 2003, all of Mahmoud’s friends and extended family suffered a
tragic loss when the earthquake in the City of Bam claimed 85,000 lives,
including Mammoud’s wife Zahra, and daughter, Sima, who were visiting relatives
for the holidays. This weekend’s World Friendship Karate Tournament at Wright is
in memory of Sima and Zahra and we urge all our friend’s and customers to
support this important event dedicatied to raising funds to build an orphanage
in Bam.

Living in the present while still honoring the past

Karate master plans a fundraiser to build an orphanage in quake-ravaged


Click Here

By Oscar Avila
Tribune staff reporter

May 27, 2005

Bambouyani removes his shoes and approaches the vast hardwood floors of his
dojo. The black-belt karate instructor closes his eyes and bows

“We bow as a way to remind ourselves that we are here for a
reason,” he says. “This is a place where we can live the moment and leave the
past behind.”

This karate master, however, cannot get away from his
past–especially the wife and daughter who were so much a part of this dojo, or
training area, until they were taken from him in the devastating earthquake that
struck their hometown of Bam, Iran, in 2003.

It would be easier,
Bambouyani acknowledges, to leave this place and try to escape the memories.
Instead, in the window of the International Traditional Karate Association, next
to a towering karate trophy and a Japanese rock garden, he has put two large
photos–of his younger daughter, Sima, and his wife, Zahra.

And Friday,
he will hold a fundraising banquet at Wright College as part of an international
tournament he runs each year. With the proceeds, he hopes to build an orphanage
in Bam, where so many others have lost their families.

Bambouyani, 55, is
a well-known instructor who has taught from the East Bank Club to Daley Plaza,
and he has coached several national champions. He quietly says that his tragedy
offers him yet another chance to teach.

He recalls when he first took an
interest in karate, as a child in Iran, watching nearly every Bruce Lee movie
that came to town.

But he did not take up karate until after he had come
to the United States in 1972 to study at Southern Illinois University in
Carbondale. There he bounced from major to major, studying enough not to flunk

Then, he saw a flier advertising a karate class and decided to try
it. He practiced his moves at dawn on a campus tennis court. Students were so
taken by his dedication that they stopped to watch.

After college,
Bambouyani moved to Chicago in 1975 and started teaching karate at athletic

On a trip back to Iran, he reconnected with Zahra, an acquaintance
from high school. The two married, but before she could join him in the United
States, Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979 disrupted their plans and kept them
apart for four years.

When Zahra got to Chicago, she discovered that her
husband had two loves — and that karate was a demanding one. Eventually Zahra
called him out about his grueling schedule, which involved teaching classes from
6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“You’re paying more attention to karate than to me,” he
says she told him.

“Why don’t you join me?” he replied.

She did,
developing from an inexperienced pupil to a spirited practice partner and
eventually a black belt herself. They had three children: Sophia, Michael and
Sima. All became black belts and trophy winners.

When Bambouyani still
found himself spending too much time away from home, the family found a new site
for the association’s main center in 1997 and set up an apartment on the second
floor. They often scheduled practice sessions–just the five of them–in the

Bambouyani says he thought life couldn’t be much better.

it got worse.

In late 2003 Bambouyani stayed in Chicago with two of his
children as his wife and Sima returned to Bam. On Dec. 26, just before they were
to return to Chicago, a frantic relative called to tell Bambouyani to turn on
television news.

The 6.7 magnitude earthquake claimed 35,000 lives,
nearly half the town’s population.

When he returned to his dojo, he found
that the place that had served as a sanctuary from the world’s problems was
haunted by memories.

“The dojo was a place for me to go to relax, to
escape,” Bambouyani says. “Every inch of that floor, we walked many times, all
of us as a family. It was very difficult. The first question everyone asked was:
Are you going to close the dojo?”

Bambouyani did close the dojo for three
weeks and didn’t resume teaching for several more. Once, he was chatting and
came across one of Sima’s toys. He burst out crying, a friend

Eventually, Bambouyani says, he forced himself to return to the
dojo. He started teaching again, even though it could not be the same. His gaze
would drift to the spot on the floor where Sima liked to stand and execute her
kicks. Relatives talked of missing the sound of her kiai, the cry of strength
unique to each karate student.

“Yes, it would be easier to close,” he
says. “But who said easy is good?”

These days, the shouts of the karate
students ring as loud as ever on this strip of Irving Park Road.

A lineup
of students reflects in the mirrored wall as Bambouyani cocks his fist and
extends one leg.

“Eyes forward,” he says, softly but firmly.

The principles he has followed through three decades of karate
have helped him survive, he says. He can channel a reserve of physical and
emotional endurance, letting him get by on just two hours of sleep a

He can maintain emotional balance and focus, comparing his mind to
a computer that lets him shut down one program–the one that grieves over his
family–and open another that lets him focus on teaching.

instructor Everitt Johnson says students, especially the younger ones, have
seized on Bambouyani’s experience as a valuable example.

“He’s always
been the strong one. I think it was difficult for them to see someone they
looked up to like this. It was like their hero had fallen,” Johnson says. “But I
think they also see how he took this and made it positive.”

has created a foundation named for his daughter and wife with the goal of
building an orphanage in Bam. Proceeds from a tournament banquet, scheduled for
Friday night at Wright College, will go to the foundation.

reminds his youth class about the tournament just before he leads them in the
dojo’s teachings. The first: “Seek perfection of character.”

In his own
quest, Bambouyani doesn’t apologize for allowing himself one distraction to his
focus, the memory of his family. In addition to the pictures of Zahra and Sima,
he prominently displays their news clippings and trophies.

“I’m not a
robot,” he notes. “I’m human. A strong human, but human.”

“Yes, it could
be dangerous to put their pictures up. But you cannot forget so many hours, so
many years,” he says. “What you can do is incorporate it into your life as a
foundation to build a better future. I am trying.”

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Brian Wansink—the Wizard of Why and a Professor at the U. of I featured in the Chicago Tribune Good Eating Section

In 1993, we were fortunate to be visited by Professor Brian Wansink, the
Director of the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois. He is known
nationally as the “food psychologist” and visited Eli’s to meet up with a film
crew for “Top 5″ on the Food Network. The film crew was at Eli’s to get footage
for our “top food tour” rating and it was great to meet Professor Wansink who
was interviewed for a show on comfort foods.

The Professor has some great experiences on the reasons we eat the way we
do and the Chicago Tribune did an indepth article on him today:

Recent studies by Brian Wansink found that …

not physical hunger, controlled most eating.

People ate 32 percent more
popcorn from big buckets than from medium buckets, even if the popcorn was

People served themselves 38 percent more ice cream when they had
big bowls than when they had smaller ones.

Subjects ate nearly 23 percent
more yogurt when offered an assortment of flavors.

Guests ate more party
treats when more dishes were put out. When treats were offered in a few large
bowls, they ate less.

People ate more when they were with people they

The more TV people watched, the fatter they were.

Diners in
restaurants where soft music played stayed 19 minutes longer, ate more desserts,
and ordered more drinks.

When given olive oil to eat with bread instead
of butter, people ate 12 percent more fat per slice, but 19 percent less

The wizard of why
Food psychologist
Brian Wansink studies the reasons we eat the way we

By Robin Mather
Tribune staff reporter
Published March 30, 2005

URBANA — Brian Wansink used every cue he has learned from his
research to help me feel happy and comfortable in his living room. Rhythm and
blues standards played softly, muting the drumming rain. Tea candles cast cozy
puddles of limpid light here and there. Fresh flowers, dried plants and baskets
of pine cones soothed the spirit. Savory aromas wafted from the

Wansink, wearing faded jeans, and apricot pullover over a
cornflower-blue polo shirt, and well-worn navy canvas deck shoes, seemed
relaxed. As a consummate multitasker, however, he was both entertaining (feeding
and amusing me) and working (seeking opinion).

“C’mon, “he said, “you
have to help me make the appetizer.”

From behind his back, Wansink
whisked a military MRE, or meal ready to eat. This one happened to beef
teriyaki, one of 29 entrees the military offers to soldiers in the field. The
khaki-colored plastic pouches, a little bigger than a shoebox, include
everything a soldier needs for one meal. A nifty just-add-water chemical heats
the food to serving temperature. We peeled the packages open, added water and
dug in.

Wansink explained that he is working with the military to see why
soldiers waste so much food. Then Wansink threw the MRE away. He would serve our
real dinner, he said, at the dining room table. His menu featured much more
familiar rations: broiled spice-rubbed salmon, mango chutney, couscous with
dried cranberries and pistachios, and apple salad, served with a very nice 2000
Hacienda Wine Cellars Merlot from Sonoma.

The plates were slightly
smaller than usual, but the portions looked generous.

“My wife and I
thought you might enjoy the wine,” Wansink said. “She’s visiting family, so she
couldn’t be here. But we wanted to welcome you with the wine we served at our

Welcome, then, to the wonderful world of Brian Wansink. Here, a
playful goofiness reigns at the right hand of acumen. The common-sense speech of
the Midwest trumps the highfalutin jargon of academia. And here, sentiment seems
always, always, to be at the heart of things.

Wansink, 44, has an
impossible title: Julian Simon Research Fellow and professor of business
administration, of nutritional science, of advertising and of agriculture and
consumer economics at the University of Illinois at

He’s also director of U. of I.’s Food and Brand Lab,
which he founded in 1992. The Food and Brand Lab is, according to Wansink’s Web site, “an interdisciplinary group of graduate
students . . . from psychology, food science, marketing, agricultural
eco-nomics, human nutrition, library science and journalism.”

He’s best
known, however, as a “food psychologist”–the guy who knows why we do what we do
when we eat. Wansink’s research proves to consumers how food marketers
manipulate our appetites and wallets. What he has learned helps explain why so
many of us struggle with our weight.

His research shows, for example,
that we eat more from big boxes, even when the food isn’t good. (Moviegoers in
Philadelphia ate 32 percent more popcorn from big buckets than from medium ones,
even when the popcorn was old, cold and stale.)

His research shows why we
drink more from a squat glass than from a slender one. (You’ll drink 25 to 30
percent more, because of an optical illusion.)

His research shows how
many more Hershey’s Kisses we’ll eat if the bowl is on our desk than if it’s six
feet away. (Secretaries at the University of Illinois ate 50 percent more
Kisses–six versus four–when the bowls were on their desks.)

research shows what cues tell us when to stop eating, and he knows how old we
are when we learn the cues. (Our eyes tell us when we’re full, not our stomachs,
and we learn to use visual cues at about age 4.)

Grants and consumer
groups fund Wansink’s research, which has been featured in newspapers and
magazines, and on radio and television nationally, including USA Today, the Wall
Street Journal, CNN, ABC News and NBC News.

His third and fourth books
will be published this year and next. “Marketing Nutrition: Soy, Functional
Foods, Biotechnology and Obesity,” for food marketers, is due in May from the
University of Illinois Press, while Bantam/Dell will publish the mass-market
“Mindless Eating” in April 2006. He has contributed articles to dozens of
magazines and journals.

All that sounds pretty lofty.

Wansink is
anything but. He was born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa. His father, John,
worked in a bakery; his mother, Naomi, worked as the secretary for the Woodbury
County attorney. Wansink spent summers at the northwest Iowa farm of his aunt
and uncle, Grace and Lester Schulke, who raised corn, a few hogs and chickens on
their 140 acres. Wansink has said his fascination with food was born on that

Or maybe that fascination began with Friday games of Jeopardy with
his parents and younger brother, Craig. The family-night ritual included popcorn
mixed with M&M’s (both of which have figured in Brian’s research

Craig, now an ordained Presbyterian minister and the chair of
the religious studies department at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Va.,
said Brian was the very model of what a big brother should be.

“When I
was in kindergarten or 1st grade, and Brian was in 2nd or 3rd grade, he’d walk
me to school every morning–it was about six blocks,” Craig remembered. “Of
course, when we got to the playground, we’d split up to play with our friends.
But when the bell rang for us to go in, he would always run to find me, and give
me a kiss before we went into school.”

After school, Craig said, “He’d
come home and want to teach me everything he had learned.”

Not that Brian
was all sweetness and light, Craig said.

“Of course, he also used to put
my head between his knees and jump up and down,” Craig said. “That really

Craig speaks of his brother with a loving mixture of amazement and

“I once heard the expression, ‘He’s like a mongoose on
cappuccino,’ and that would be Brian,” Craig said. “But do you know that passage
from Luke 12:48, ‘And to whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required
. . . ‘? That really applies to him too. He knows what he can do, and would feel
like he was a bad steward if he didn’t do that.”

An avid amateur
musician, Wansink plays tenor sax in a jazz quartet and in a pickup Champaign
band called The Usual Suspects. The Suspects play only a couple of times a year,
said fellow member Mike Howie, but they’ve been doing so for more than 20 years.
Wansink is a relative newcomer, Howie said.

“He’s an extremely bright
guy, perfectly willing to laugh at himself, and to have other people laugh at
him too. He’s a goofy guy, but it’s a very cool goofiness. He’s not normally
going to be the guy in the room that you notice right away, but the higher his
comfort level is, the more he allows himself to be extroverted.”

As a sax
player, Howie rates Wansink as, well, improving.

Randy Westgren, a
professor in the U. of I.’s Agriculture and Consumer Economics department, views
Wansink as both colleague and close friend.

“We’ve worked together on
several projects,” Westgren said. “We’re sort of parallel; we both landed [here]
with an interest in food marketing, with him in one department and me in

Westgren considers Wansink a great research partner. “He is
extremely high energy, always thinking about something new and interesting,”
Westgren said. “At a distance he looks manic, but up close you can see he’s
boundlessly enthusiastic. I find his enthusiasm infectious, so when he brings in
his latest iPod playlist, I pay attention. He’s also very, very generous of
spirit. I wouldn’t have thought about publishing a paper in the research journal
Appetite, but he thought of it, and he helped me through it.”

But life
isn’t all work and no play. Westgren and Wansink, who has completed the first of
a three-course wine-studies program at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, also share a
passion for good food and wine.

“We both enjoy the camaraderie that
develops around a shared meal,” Westgren said.

“Brian likes to have wines
[that come with] stories. It’s a lot about developing and sharing the dialogue
about the meaning of food.”

Wansink’s wife, Jennifer, recently completed
her second course at Le Cordon Bleu.

“So we spend a lot of time talking
about how a dish came together,” Westgren said. “But Brian has two states: It’s
either very good food, or it’s greasy spoon. There’s really no

Back in the living room, after dinner, Wansink and his guest
visited a little longer. The remaining half-bottle of merlot traveled with them
from the dining room table to the coffee table. Wansink knows that an empty
bottle of wine on the table provides a visual cue that the party’s over, and
he’s not eager for the evening to end.

He loves his work, but it has its
challenges, he said. When he taught at Dartmouth College, an adviser told him
not to waste his research time on silly topics like food. That’s why he came to
the University of Illinois, where the importance of such topics is

Finding research money is sometimes tough, he said. Sometimes
he funds research projects out of his own pocket. It is more important to him
that the research is done than that somebody else pay for it, he

With characteristic modesty, he failed to mention that, in 1999, he
founded the Wansink Consumer Education Foundation. The non-profit organization
supports high school science projects dealing with consumer welfare and provides
scholarships for books to college-bound students. The foundation also supports
Consumer Camp, free to the public, held each March in Champaign. The foundation
is funded by Wansink’s book royalties and speaking honoraria.

He spoke
generously of the graduate students who work with him on research projects,
about their hard work and integrity. Voted both MBA core professor of the year
and graduate professor of the year in the U. of I.’s College of Commerce in
2001, Wansink clearly is admired and respected by his students.

He works
hard, teaching, chasing grants, conducting research and writing it up, I

“No,” Wansink said quickly, “my dad worked hard. He did hard
physical labor all his life. I can’t even imagine what his life has been

Wansink’s eyes suddenly filled with tears. “Once he told me that
he was a nobody. That just killed me.”

He wiped his eyes. His goofy smile
returned. He offered me more wine.

No, I said, it was time to go.
Tomorrow was another day, and it would be a busy one.

As I walked to my
car, I heard a wild whooping from the house, and caught a glimpse of my host
dancing joyfully after an evening spent in pleasantry.

In my head, I
heard Louis Armstrong’s rough and gravelly voice singing: “And I think to
myself, what a wonderful world.”

- – -


Unsuspecting college students were invited to eat their
fill from bowls of tomato soup. Half the students didn’t know they were eating
from special bowls designed to refill slowly as they ate. People eating from
regular bowls ate about 11 ounces of soup. People eating from the bottomless
bowls ate about 17 ounces, and some ate more than a quart, or 24

CONCLUSION: People eat with their eyes, not with their


Two people are
each given a bowl of M&M’s to nibble while they watch a video. The only
difference between the bowls is that one has seven colors of M&M’s, and one
has 10. The person whose bowl has 10 colors will eat almost 20 more M&M’s
than the person whose bowl has only seven colors. He’ll eat more because he
thinks the additional colors add variety, even though everyone knows all
M&M’s taste the same.

CONCLUSION: The perception of variety makes us
eat more.


Students at a
university dining room were split into two groups. Both were given the same food
and wine. Half got wine from bottles labeled “Made in California.” The others
got bottles labeled “Made in North Dakota.” Students who drank the “North
Dakota” wine believed the chef had received less training, and gave the food low
ratings. Students who drank the “California” wine said the chef was very
skilled, and gave the food high ratings.

CONCLUSION: Even wine labels can
affect our perception of food quality.



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“My lesson learned was to be true to my vision”—-Article from the Chicago Tribune

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Chicago is a great place to visit in January with Winter Delights–check out the Tribune feature today on cookie baking at Eli’s


Chicago Tribune/Good Easting


Cooking in a winter wonderland

Renee Enna
Published December 22,

What’s your foodie pleasure? Chances are the Chicago Office
of Tourism’s “Stir It Up” program Jan. 6-9 will satisfy your craving. The
four-day menu-thon includes cooking classes, tours, meals and exhibits that
cover many cuisines and budgets. A few that caught our eye:





- “Family Cookie Baking.” Bake cookies and
enjoy lunch at Eli’s Cheesecake Factory. ($20 per person. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Jan. 8. 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive. Reservations,

- “Fondues of the World.” Continental breakfast,
class and lunch focused on the classic technique. ($40. 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Jan. 8
at Swissotel, 323 E. Wacker Drive. Reservations, 312-565-0565, ext.

- “A Little Bit of India Tour.” Slow Food Chicago hosts a walking
tour on Devon Avenue that includes breakfast and lunch. ($20. 9:30 a.m.-1:30
p.m. Jan. 8. Meet at Arya Bhavan Restaurant, 2508 W. Devon Ave. Reservations,

For a full list, visit (click on
“Chicago winter delights”) or call 877-244-2246.

Our downtown restaurant Eli’s the Place for Steak is also the place
to be for hot blues piano on January 14th with the legendary Hal Roach!


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Congratulations to the Winners of the 5th Annual Good Eating Award from the Chicago Tribune

One of the most significant awards in the food industry in Chicago to receive
is the Chicago Tribune Good Eating Award. Now in its 5th year, the award winners
were published in today’s Tribune Good Eating Section. I was fortunate to
receive this Award in 2003 and was truly honored to be in such distinguished
company with people who are so committed to making a difference in the food
industry in Chicago.

2004 Good Eating Award Winners

Each year, Good Eating honors those people in the food and beverage
industries who are making a difference in Chicago through their commitment,
quality, passion and vision. These experts have enhanced the food scene in
Chicago with their many accomplishments. This is the fifth anniversary of the
awards. Winners come from many parts of the industry, including chefs,
restaurateurs, farmers, producers, community workers, retailers, wholesalers and
educators. Nominations are made by readers and Good Eating staff members; staff
members choose the final winners.

Joan Reardon-Cookbook author and biographer

Beth Truett-Executive director, Chicago Lights at Fourth Presbyterian

Tony Mantuano-Executive chef, Spiaggia

Ricky Moore-Executive chef, South Water Kitchen

Doug Zell and Emily Mange-Co-owners, Intelligentsia Coffee

Les Brown-Founder, Growing Home

Dick Durbin-U.S. Senator (D-Ill.)

Anthony J. Terlato-CEO, Terlato Wine Group

Carolyn Collins-President, Carolyn Collins Caviar Co.

Judith Dunbar Hines-Director of Culinary Arts and Events, City of Chicago

Giles Schnierle-Owner, Great American Cheese Collection

John and Pat Sondgeroth-Heartland Meats






CHICAGO, November 11, 2003 – For its annual awards, the Chicago Tribune Good
Eating staff honors individuals who are making a difference in Chicago’s food
and beverage community through their commitment, passion and vision. Recipients
of the 2003 Good Eating Awards are profiled in a special Good Eating section in
the November 12 edition of the Chicago Tribune. And the winners are:

Mary Ellen Diaz—preparing healthy meals for the homeless

Brian Duncan—innovative wine expert at Bin 36

Ken Dunn and Kristine Greiber—organic urban gardens on vacant lots

Pamela Fitzpatrick—baker at Fox & Obel, noted for artisanal methods

The Glunz family—multi-generational involvement in family-owned and operated
beer and wine distributorships, wine shop, winery and German restaurant

Gloria Hafer—runs after school cooking class for elementary students

Peg Isaacson—provides healthy meals and group activities for seniors

Jerry Kleiner—restaurant pioneer in the Randolph Street and South Loop

Tracy and La Donna Redmond—promote better access to quality food in urban

Bruce Sherman—North Pond chef, teacher, farm booster

Marc Schulman—Eli’s Cheesecake, city booster, charitable work

Evelyn Thompson—ethnic market tours, educator

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