Are you ready for a FOOD FIGHT!

It’s time for the biggest fight of the year, Are you ready to cheer on your favorite Chef at CULINARY FIGHT FEST on Sunday, August 13th from 11-3pm.  This years FIGHT FEST is going to be at the Hard Rock Cafe located at 63 W Ontario St Chicago, Illinois 60654. 

 Past Culinary Fight Club Competitors and Winners are invited to share their signature Bite on August 13. It’s up to you to choose who will be the Top 4 Best Bites that will continue on compete in the Ultimate Battle to win the Culinary Fight Fest Regional Champion Trophy. 

Get your tickets here:


Meet The Chefs

Here’s how that works. Attendees receive 4 chips to vote for their Fave Bites. The Top 4 overall Fave Bites will throw down in a CFF Choice 30-minute Battle.

Learn More About Culinary Fight Club Here

So what exactly is a Hidden Mickey?

So what exactly is a Hidden Mickey? Quite simply, it’s an artistic representation of Mickey that was intentionally placed amid the architecture and design of the parks and resorts. Oftentimes it’s the familiar three-circle shape of his ears and head. Other times it might be a profile of his face or a full-body silhouette. Walt Disney World Guests with keen eyes can tell you that Mickey pops up all over the resort, often in the most unexpected places.

I recommend one of these two books if you are headed to Disney soon!

Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World®’s Best Kept Secrets

The Hidden Mickeys of Walt Disney World

The Essentials #DisneyBound Packing List!

Heading to Walt Disney World Soon. Pack more fun and print this Essential Walt Disney World Packing List!

In just a few short days, I will be packing my bags jetting off to Walt Disney World (a.k.a. my “happy” place)! I created my Essential #DisneyBound Packing List which I am sharing with you today. And truthfully, no Disney vacation should be without these items!

#1 – Your Mickey Mouse or Minni Mouse Ears

#2 – A Magic Band

Unlock all the enchantment of Walt Disney World Resort wearing your own personal MagicBand 2. With a simple touch, redeem FastPass+ selections, enter parks, charge purchases to your room, and more!

#3 – Your Favorite Disney T-shirts

#4 – A Mickey Mouse Fanny Pack 

Disney TAG Canvas Crossbody Hip Pack

Mickey Mouse stars on our stylish convertible carryall for use as a crossbody bag or comfy hip pack. Part of the new Travel•Accessories•Gear collection, this pack is perfect for toting all your essentials with ease.

#5 – Don’t Forget Shoes

#6 – A Hidden Mickeys Guide Book 

Bonus Item – Your Favorite Disney Coloring Book  


Check out the Disney Store for all your Disney Essentials

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” Truly A Tale as Old as Time

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.


Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” a live-action adaptation on of the studio’s animated classic featured an extraordinary ensemble cast, including: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu MbathaRaw, Hattie Morahan and Nathan Mack with Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

~ Film Facts ~

  • Over 8,700 candles (or 104,400 inches of wax) were used as set decoration during production.
  • The ballroom floor in the Beast’s castle is made from 12,000 square feet of faux marble and its design is based on a pattern found on the ceiling of the Benedictine Abbey in Braunau, Germany. The 10 glass chandeliers in the ballroom – each measuring 14 feet by 7 feet – are based on actual chandeliers from Versailles which were then frosted, covered in fabric and candlelit.
  • Approximately 1,500 red roses were grown or purchased during production for use as research or set decoration.
  • The enchanted forest which surrounds the Beast’s castle and features real trees, hedges, a frozen lake and 20,000 icicles, took 15 weeks to complete.
  • Approximately 180 feet of feather light satin organza was used to create Belle’s yellow dress. The dress, which required 3,000 feet of thread and took over 12,000 hours to create, was accentuated with 2,160 Swarovski crystals.
  • During production, the costume department challenged itself to design and create ethical and sustainable costumes made from fair-trade fabrics (meaning the use of organic materials from suppliers that pay their employees a fair wage and are considerate of the environment), which they achieved. Working in tandem with Eco Age and the Green Carpet Challenge, the department used natural and low impact dyes, carefully disposing of any waste water, and printed with traditional wood blocks.
  • A production crew comprised of more than 1,000 people worked around the clock to design, build and decorate the film’s mammoth sets.
  • Philippe, Belle (Emma Watson) and Maurice’s (Kevin Kline) horse, is played by three different horses, two of which had to be painted on a daily basis.
  • Emma Watson (Belle), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Luke Evans (Gaston) and Nathan Mack (Chip) all share the same birthday, April 14, which was also the date of the cast read through.
  • Froufrou, the dog belonging to Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), is played by Gizmo, a rescue from one of the U.K.’s oldest and most famous animal rescue centers.
  • The coat of arms in the Beast’s castle is a lion and a boar with a WD anagram (the WD is meant to represent a fictional character, William Devereaux, but could also stand for Walt Disney).
  • Some of the original lyrics written by Howard Ashman for the songs “Gaston” and “Beauty and the Beast” that were not used in the animated film have been added to the live-action adaptation.

Meet The Mediterranean at Olive Garden

Our Tastes of the Mediterranean  

When a friend of mine invited me to the #MeetTheMedi VR dining experience with her, I was like totally YES! I love Olive Garden. I mean I LOVE their bread sticks! And I had no idea Olive Garden had a section of the menu featuring entrees that have 600 calories or less. 

We arrived at the station gathered our tickets and sipped champagne before heading to the platform for our train to the Mediterranean as we waited we mingled with the fellow passengers while sipping our Green Apple Moscato Sangria. The train conductor shouted out the train had arrived. We boarded the train to begin our trip to #MeetTheMedi We dined in a train car with video screens and sounds mimicking a train trip across the Italian country side.


We’re ready to board! #meetthemedi #olivegarden

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The Dishes



CHICKEN MARGHERITA – Grilled chicken breasts topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil pesto and a lemon garlic sauce. Served with parmesan crusted zucchini.


SHRIMP SCAMPI – Shrimp sautéed in a garlic sauce, tossed with asparagus, tomatoes and angel hair pasta.


CHICKEN PICCATA – Grilled chicken topped with a lemon garlic butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and capers. Served with parmesan crusted zucchini.


LINGUINE DI MARE – Shrimp and mussels sauteed with homemade pomodoro sauce and whole grain linguine.




I simply can’t believe ALL of these dishes are under 600 calories. I’ll be back again and again. Thanks SO much to Olive Garden for the preview. Be sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Culinary Fight Club – The Savory Chocolate

Chicago will kick off the 2017 Culinary Fight Club Season with The Savory Chocolate at Lucky Strike on Monday 2/13!

 Get your tickets today


Monthly Live Cooking Competitions around Chicago produced by CULINARY Fight Club. Each month fires up with a new theme, ingredients, contestants, judges, prizes, and location!


Contestants or Teams have (60) minutes to impress (3) judges, using (1) 10k BTU Burner and (15) supplied raw ingredients & (3) surprise ingredients, all to be judged on that one perfect bite! Hungry, don’t worry there is also a Taster’s Choice Award too! So attendees are encouraged to grab a tasting spoon, dig in and vote for their favorite bite!

Learn More About Culinary Fight Club Here 



What is Culinary Fight Club?

Culinary Fight Club  hosts live cooking competitions. No two events are the same. The teams of cooks race for 45 seconds to choose 15 ingredients from the pantry of food provided by Reinhart Foodservice.

Once the ingredients are collected, each team has 60 minutes to construct a dish that depicts their take on the monthly theme. These Chefs and cooks of all levels around the area compete for a “Golden Ticket,” to advance to the Super Bowl of “food sport” events, the World Food Championships! Once the timer hit 60 minutes, the audience members and judges sample and vote on a winning dish.

Fight2Feed 50/50 TicketsThe most amazing part about this concept is that the Culinary Fight Club is partnered with Fight2Feed, which 20% of proceeds are donated.  This is an organization that partners with top restaurants and food trucks to provide service and support to hungry men, women and children.

This Months Chefs

Each month, chefs compete to advance to the next round and finalists have an opportunity to make it to the World Food Championships.

These are the chefs that competed in December:

  • Chef Mark Gaylord (HE WON!)
  • Chef Kevin Guida
  • Chef Madeline Wehking
  • Chef Justin Vaiciunas
  • Chef Chris De LaCueva

When and Where is the next one?

The location changes every month, Check here to find out and get your tickets! Don’t forget to like Culinary Fight Club on Facebook and follow on Twitter to be sure you’re getting all the latest information.

Parma Rosa Pasta Recipe

Parma Rosa Pasta (Serves 3-4)
  • ½ pound shrimp
  • ½ jar of Pasta Sauce
  • 16 oz of your favorite Alfredo Sauce
  • 1 package of Knorr Parma Rosa Pasta Sauce Mixes
  • 2 tsp. seasoning (Mrs. Dash® Garlic & Herb Seasoning Blend)
  • 1 pound dried penne pasta
  • Parsley for garnish


Cook penne pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Sprinkle seasoning over shrimp in a large heavy oiled sauce pan, until shrimp are fully cooked.  Add in ½ jar  Pasta Sauce and 16 oz. of Alfredo sauce and the packet of Knorr Parma Rosa Pasta Sauce Mix, stir and cook down for two minutes. Toss in penne pasta, garnish with fresh parmesan and Italian parsley


Another great dinner ~ parma rosa with shrimp! #foodie #foodporn

A photo posted by Matthew Smith (@mjsmith0523) on

Culinary Fight Club 3rd Annual Sip+Bite Fundraiser Throwdown!

Come on out and cheer for your favorite Chef  for 3rdAnnual Sip+Bite Fundraiser Throwdown at Bottled Blonde Chicago 504 N Wells St, Chicago, Illinois 60654 on Monday 12/19 at 6pm.

This month, we pay homage to THE PERFECT SIP PAIRED WITH THE PERFECT BITE. They’ve put some amazing chefs head to head to see how they can create their signature Sip+Bite to represent ChiTown  in one hour. You don’t want to miss this!

Registration link here:

Culinary Fight Club is a live cooking competition where chefs have 45 seconds to grab all the ingredients they can in order to cook the best dish they can. Chefs can also bring 3 secret ingredients to help their chances. Four judges will choose the official winner and our audience will choose a People’s Choice winner.

Learn More About Culinary Fight Club Here

Olive Theory Pizzeria is one of the best worst kept secrets.

Olive Theory Pizzeria is one of the best worst kept secrets.  This place not only has super fast pizza, but delicious too.  They are the number one ranked pizza place in Illinois.  If you haven’t been there, then you need to go.  Although it is unlikely this will be the only one for long

Not only do they have pizza for one flat price!  I know.  Can you believe it? No matter what you order the price is the same for the pizzas, calzones and salads.  They have house recipes that you can alter or you can craft your own.

The best part is that Olive Theory Pizzeria is based on the olive branch.  They want to help the community by giving back.  For every 10 pizzas purchased they donate 1 pizza back to the community.  Not only are you feeding yourself, but everyone around you.

I can’t forget there is an app!  Fast ordering is easy with the app.  You can make your lunch even faster by ordering in advance.  This is a place that will easily become a favorite for lunch.


I’ve found my favorite new pizza place! When you try @olivetheorypizzeria you’ll fall in love too! #otponeyear #foodie #pizza

A photo posted by Matthew Smith (@mjsmith0523) on