Chicago Star December 2021 A Toast to the Holidays

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Candid Candace Jordan gets cookin’ with Steak 48’s Chef Jeffery Taylor Page 14


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Media stars Sylvia Perez (Fox-32 Chicago), LeeAnn Trotter (NBC-5 Chicago), Hosea Sanders (ABC-7 Chicago) and Lisa Fielding (WBBM Newsradio) toast the holidays on opening night of Christkindlmarket. Photo by Kristan Lieb, produced by Candid Candace Jordan



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New Eastside NEWS Publisher and Editor Elaine Hyde Streeterville NEWS AssociateLoop Editor NEWS West Nuria Mathog

Contributing Editor Candace Jordan Copy Editors Vivien Lee Bob Oswald Layout/Design Bob Oswald Community Contributors Jon Cohn Jacqueline Davis Bridget McGuire Angela Gagnon

Subscriptions Advertising Chicago Star is a monthly paper that uses community writers and contributors. The views expressed by community contributors are their own. Chicago Star Media does not take responsibility for third-party announcements or events. Chicago Star Media is independently owned and operated. Published Dec. 1, 2021 Copyright ©2021. All rights reserved.


Home for the Holidays with Chicago Star By Candid Candace Jordan Contributing editor


he spirit of the holidays seems stronger this year than in years past, and we are so grateful for all the support from the Chicago community. Our editorial team works so hard to make a positive difference in this city that we all love. It’s for this reason, and because the holidays are all about family, that we introduce you to the people who make this paper possible, the Chicago Star Media family. Elaine Hyde is the publisher of Chicago Star and proud mother of five. She loves flying airplanes, and Tom Cruise. “Growing up in Australia the weather was always very hot and everything would be closed on Christmas Day. My parents would take me to the only kind of restaurant that was open on Christmas and that was a Chinese Restaurant. Nuria Mathog is Chicago Star’s Associate Editor. Before joining the team, she served as the editor of The Frankfort Station, a former weekly paper based out of Chicago’s Southwest suburbs. “My husband and I have visited Christkindlmarket every year since we moved to Chicago. It’s our favorite holiday attraction. We love browsing the handcrafted ornaments, drinking hot spiced wine and sampling delicious German food. And, of course, we always make sure to collect the latest mug. Candid Candace Jordan is Chicago Star’s Contributing Editor. “One of my favorite memories was shopping at Marshall Field’s with my Mom at Christmastime. I still have the 4-foot Santa we bought together

Lil’ Nuria

Lil’ Elaine

on one of these happy excursions. These days, Chuck and I just love staring at our Christmas tree over a glass of light beer and enjoying all the joys of the holiday season.” Jon “Coach” Cohn, is a Chicago Star Community Contributor, New Eastside resident and long time Chicagoan involved in all areas of athletics as a coach, official, announcer and administrator. “The best gift I’ve ever received was definitely a bright shiny new, blue Schwinn bicycle.The worst was also the funniest. My dad wrapped up a pair of my dirty socks and had me open that up as the very first present.”

Lil’ Candace (right) with cousin Steve.

Angela Gagnon is a Chicago Star Community Contributor and second-grade teacher. She loves spending time with her family and enjoys running and sailing. “I love the energy and excitement of the holidays—caroling at the Bean with a cup of hot chocolate, running a festive holiday race, decorating cookies with my kids, singing Christmas carols, throwing an

Bob Oswald is a Chicago-area journalist and Chicago Star page designer who makes every single issue a work of art. Bob lives in Bartlett with his wife Karen and dog Bruce. They have three adult children. “My earliest holiday memory is from the house I lived in, on Chicago’s South Side. I couldn’t figure out how Santa Claus would make it in when we only had a fake fireplace.”

annual holiday party for friends, spending time with family. I dislike the feeling of having to rush around and do all the holiday things.”

BOARD MEMBERS Manolis Alpogianis, America’s Dog & Burger Franchise Systems President Julie Barrish, Philanthropist Melissa Harris, CEO M.Harris & Co. Leslie Hindman, Founder Hindman Auctions Paul Iacono, Chicago Dowel Co. Israel Idonije, Founder iF Charities Tom Kehoe, Kehoe Designs Michael Kutza, Founder Chicago

International Film Festival Sherren Leigh, Founder Today’s Chicago Woman Sargent M. McCormick, International Harvester Alexander Pissios, President Cinespace Chicago Film Studios and Cinecares Foundation Amanda Puck, Director Strategic Brand Development, Mariano’s Maureen and Marc Schulman, President Eli’s Cheesecake Company

Chef Art Smith, Chef/Author/ Co-founder Common Threads Bonnie Spurlock, Founder Associated Publications Howard Tullman, G2T3V Phil Vettel, Former Chicago Tribune Food Critic Dionne Williams, Owner/Founder of D. Williams PR Group Robert Zentner, Philanthropist


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A round up of Chicago's top stories Chicago adults advised to get booster shots City public health officials are recommending adult residents get a COVID-19 booster shot after the FDA on Nov. 19 approved emergency authorization of the Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for all U.S. adults. The booster shots can be found at sites such as pharmacies, doctor’s offices and hospitals. Eligible adults include those who received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago or received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

City expected to reach 77 percent vaccination goal Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the city was on track to achieve a 77% first dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in Chicagoans 12 and older by Thanksgiving, weeks ahead of schedule. As of Nov. 22, 76.7 percent of Chicago residents had received one or more doses of the vaccine.

Residential parking passes for 2022 available 2022 residential parking passes are now available for purchase on the city clerk’s website,, or in-person at the city clerk’s three office locations. Parking passes ordered online take an average of 10 business days to be delivered by mail. Pink passes from 2021 will remain valid until Dec. 31.

Permit applications open for Chicago Park District special events Residents looking to host an event at a Chicago Park District facility in 2022 can now complete an application on the park district’s website. There is a mandatory $35 processing fee for each application submitted, and reviewing an application takes at least 14 days. Additional permit fees are due after the site and date are secured. Visit for more information.

Winter parking restrictions go into effect in December Starting Dec. 1, the city of Chicago will be enforcing a winter overnight parking ban from 3-7 a.m. on 107 miles of arterial streets in the city. The restrictions will last until

Ice skating returned to the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park in November.

Ice skating returns to downtown parks The ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park reopened to the public in November, and all reservations now include “Gogh Skating—The Van Gogh Experience,” which will display artwork by Van Gogh on the ice. Spots can be reserved online at Session capacity is limited, and changes or transfers are only allowed up to 72 hours before a scheduled skate time. Additionally, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park is now open through March 6. While admission to the rink is free, skaters must make online reservations. Learn more at April 1, regardless of the presence of snow. There will also be an additional snow-related parking ban for 500 miles of main streets, which goes into effect if the street is covered in at least two inches of snow. Failure to comply with these restrictions may lead to vehicle towing or relocation, tickets or other fees.

Navy Pier set to brighten the winter season with Light Up the Lake Navy Pier will brighten the winter season with Light Up the Lake, an indoor, temperature-controlled experience, featuring large-scale light-sculpture displays comprising more than 600,000 twinkling lights; a regulation-size Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Village and gift market and other family-friendly events. Offering something for everyone, Light Up the Lake will run from Nov. 26 through Jan. 2, in Festival Hall at Navy Pier. Special themed events, including date nights, are also planned. Visit for more.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo by Candid Candace Jordan

ZooLights returns to Lincoln Park Zoo One of the city’s most popular wintertime attractions, ZooLights, is back and set to run through Jan. 2. The annual event features hundreds of LED displays and experiences, and this year, ZooLights will include a new holiday lights experience on the zoo’s Main Mall, as well as a new light show on the South Lawn. There will also be sensory-friendly visit times for families. Tickets are required for entry. The event is free on Monday and Tuesday nights and costs $5 from Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, visit


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| CHICAGO STAR’S TOP HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS | Schedules are subject to change. Call venues to confirm event information. To submit events or advertise on this page, email

Dec. 1

Macy’s State Street offers lots of holiday cheer Santa Claus will return for in-person visits at Macy’s State Street through Dec. 24. An enchanted world showcasing Santa’s Village and Workshop, Macy’s Santaland, will open for in-store visits, plus virtual options, at Macy’s on State Street. Guests must reserve a visit with Santa Claus online Reservations will open five days in advance of the desired visit date to allow for the most access possible to guests wishing to attend in-person. Each day reservations will open at 5:30 a.m. local time and will showcase the open reservation slots for five days later. Macy’s State Street, 111 N. State St., macys. com/Santaland A Christmas Carol returns to the Goodman Theatre Experience the heartwarming story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s discovery of kindness, compassion and redemption—a Chicago holiday tradition now in its fifth decade at Goodman Theatre, enjoyed by nearly 2 million theatergoers. Through Dec. 31, Goodman’s Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Disney’s Frozen dazzles theater-goers From the producers of “The Lion King” and “Aladdin,” Disney’s “Frozen,” the Tony-nominated Best Musical, will play an exclusive 11-week premiere engagement at Broadway in Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre. Now through Jan. 22, Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Christkindlemarket returns to Daley Plaza and Gallagher Way Get ready to sip gluhwein, devour some schnitzel and shop for ornaments. The Christkindlmarket will return this holiday season after taking to the internet last year due to the pandemic. For this year’s 25th edition, look for this festive, German-inspired market in downtown Chicago through Dec. 24 and Wrig-

leyville through Dec. 31. Both markets are open seven days a week, hours vary. Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., Gallagher Way, 3635 N. Clark St.,

Dec. 3

Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along at Cloud Gate This festive series—part concert, part sing-along—at Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean,” returns this year. This joyous series will invite Chicagoans and visitors to sing out and celebrate Chicago’s diverse holiday traditions. It has been reimagined to be more inclusive of Chicago’s many faith backgrounds, cultures and holiday music traditions. 6 p.m. Fridays through Dec. 17, Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.,

Dec. 5

Sensory-Friendly Santa Experience Returning for 2021, Fashion Outlets of Chicago invites children with special needs and their families to spend time with Santa. Taking place prior to the shopping center opening, the Sensory-Friendly Santa Experience will be carefully managed to accommodate guests with autism and other special needs, including necessary environmental adjustments to meet guests’ sensory challenges. 8-10 a.m., Fashion Outlets of Chicago, 5220 Fashion Outlets Way, Rosemont,

The Joffrey Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” through Dec. 26. Photo by Cheryl Mann

Soprano Sarah Brightman will bring “A Christmas Symphony” to the Auditorium Theatre Dec. 10.

Dec. 4

Dec. 10

Tradition reimagined: The Joffrey Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ The Joffrey Ballet celebrates the holidays with Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagined classic, “The Nutcracker.” Follow Marie and the Nutcracker Prince on a Christmas Eve journey through the 1893 World’s Fair, a dazzling spectacle of sights, sounds and enchantment. This holiday tradition celebrates the magic of the season and the rich cultural heritage of Chicago. Through Dec. 26, Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Upper Wacker Drive,

Sarah Brightman’s ‘A Christmas Symphony’ at the Auditorium Theatre One of the world’s most successful and best-selling sopranos Sarah Brightman, will bring “A Christmas Symphony” to the historic Auditorium Theatre. In celebration of her favorite time of year, Sarah begins a new Christmas tradition this year with her first-ever “A Christmas Symphony Tour.” Tickets, including Meet & Greet and VIP Packages, are available online. 8 p.m., Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive,

The Music Box Christmas Show includes vintage films, a sing-a-long and a visit from Santa Claus.

Music Box Theatre’s Christmas Show: Vintage films, sing-a-long and Santa Who could have predicted that on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1983, when the operator of a vintage movie theater in Chicago decided to show two old holiday movies and sing a few Christmas carols during the intermission, that nearly 40 years later the Music Box Christmas Show would become a nine-day extravaganza that grows more popular with each passing year? Each year, holiday revelers are greeted by none other than Santa Claus—live and in person. Accompanied by Music Box organist Dennis Scott, Santa leads audiences in the singing of the most cherished Christmas carols of all time. The show runs through Dec. 23. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave.,

Dec. 11

Chicago Opera Theater presents ‘Becoming Santa Claus’ Chicago Opera Theater continues its 2021-2022 season with the Chicago premiere of the seasonal treat, “Becoming Santa Claus,” in three performances only. In Mark Adamo’s acclaimed holiday opera, a bratty elf Prince learns the meaning of family, love, and the true spirit of gift-giving. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased on the COT website. Dec. 11, 17 and 19, Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave., in the Fine Arts Building, Continued on page 16

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Candid Candace CITY SEEN

True Blue for The Chicago Police Foundation

Camille Julmy Natacha Doyle

Dr. Joaquin Brieva, Jennifer Sutton-Brieva and Paul Iacono.

Superintendent David Brown and Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

Angie DeMars, Kelly Golden, Rick Simon, CPF board chair, and Justine Fedak.

Sven Asmus and Arica Hilton.

The Cause: Nearly 300 guests came out to celebrate, honor and support our men and women in blue at the sixth annual True Blue gala hosted by the Chicago Police Foundation (CPF). The 7-year-old nonprofit, led by various Chicago business and community leaders, provides funding for supplemental resources in technology, advanced training, community outreach and safety equipment, especially life-saving LEMART kits (individual first aid kits), for the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The event raised more than $500,000. Jeffery McGee, First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter and Kevin Johnson.

Mary Ann Rose, CPF ED, and Heinz Kern.

Cynthia Kalk, honoree John Robak, Bethany Florek and Stephen Cattouse.

The Setting: As supporters arrived for the event, they were greeted by a mounted equestrian unit as well as SWAT team members dressed in full gear beside their armored rescue vehicle. In the ballroom, guests perused a silent auction that included tours with the CPD’s canine and mounted units, as well as a Marine experience. A highly coveted David Yarrow photograph sold for $12,500 (courtesy of the Hilton | Asmus Contemporary gallery). Partygoers could also meet-and-greet a member of the CPD Canine Unit with his well-trained dog. The Scene: Mary Ann Rose, CPF executive director and event producer, welcomed guests and introduced board chair Rick Simon. Simon said, “The CPF has one mission, to serve those who serve us, those who walk the thin blue line. The past 18 months in police work has been a little rough between the pandemic, civil unrest and people just being generally unappreciative of law enforcement” John C. Robak was honored as Man of the Year. He is a past CPF chair and founding member, serves on eight nonprofit boards and is the CEO of Greeley and Hansen, a global water solutions firm that’s been headquartered in Chicago for over 100 years. Robak said, “I believe we all recognize there are opportunities to learn from the past, to improve relationships between police and the communities they serve … particularly in under-resourced communities. But we also recognize the need to support the people who are keeping us safe, people who are the first to run into danger to protect and serve the rest of us. We can’t lose sight of that.” Photos by Mila Samokhina

Courtney Kennedy, Sean Eshagy and Averill Leviton.

Tyler Rose, Danielle Rose, Danny and Jordan Diaz (front).



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Happy holiday shopping at Mary Mary!

Mary, Mary Gifts

706 N. Dearborn, 312.654.8100, WBC Ad_ChicagoStar_10x9.625_11-2021_v1 PRINT.pdf


World-Class EVENING!










1 11/15/2021 7:14:29 PM

On November 5, 2021, the iconic Hilton Chicago hosted business leaders, diplomats, and Chicagoans from across the city and around the world at a celebration of Chicago’s status as a leading global city. The event brought together more than 500 guests—many who work to build mutual respect and cooperation through citizen diplomacy.

World Business Chicago & Chicago Sister Cities International presents

The positive energy emanating from the event exemplified the spirit of World Business Chicago and Chicago Sister Cities International’s work here and abroad. The black tie optional event was also a triumphant step toward normalcy in a post-pandemic era. Proof of vaccination was required for attendance.

2021 Honorees Global Citizen Award

Mary Dillon

Executive Chair, Ulta Beauty

Corporate Ambassador Award

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Corporate Ambassador Award

Discover Financial Services Chicago Sister Cities International Volunteer of the Year Award

Kimiyo Naka

Chair, Osaka Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International

Thank you to event attendees. For more information, visit



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A gift guide that gives back


By Candid Candace Jordan

ALESSI BARK FOR CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT Shop more than 430 of the world’s top luxury fashion and beauty brands at Olivela and 20% of proceeds from every purchase will support deserving causes, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Sales from this particular tree ornament provide two chemotherapy care supplies for children at St. Jude.

Contributing editor



MUSICAL INSTRUMENT ORNAMENTS Mary Mary Gifts, 706 N. Dearborn St., will donate 15% of the proceeds from the sale of any musical instrument ornaments in the store to Allegrezza, a Chicago-based chorus that contributes a portion of its concert proceeds to local charities.


GREETING CARDS AND ARTWORK Project Onward’s artwork (including paintings, greeting cards, T-shirts, totes and more) supports artists with mental illness and developmental disabilities.


“I LOVE ST. JUDE” ORNAMENT St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s “I Love St. Jude” 4” glass ornament, $14, is inspired by the artwork of St. Jude patients. giftshop.



THE ELI’S CHEESECAKE COOKBOOK, REMARKABLE RECIPES FROM A CHICAGO LEGEND, 40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION The secret’s out about how to make Chicago’s favorite dessert and through December, for Epilepsy Awareness Month, a percentage of sales through will be donated to CURE Epilepsy with code CURE21.


BARRETT BEAR TOY Named in honor of the foundation’s namesake, Barrett “Bear Krupa, is available as an adorable stuffed toy bear, $20, benetfiting Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation,

DELICIOUS HOMEMADE BAKERY GOODS The key ingredient at Misericordia Hearts & Flower Bakery is providing jobs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 6300 N. Ridge Ave.


DESK CALENDARS WITH PUPS AND CATS PAWS Chicago desk calendars are filled with cute photos of dogs and cats that will warm your heart 365 days a year. Funds will support the nonprofit’s mission to save homeless pets. ($25)

WALL CLOCKS The Chicago Lighthouse has hand-produced more than 6 million high-quality wall clocks to date. Each one is built with pride by people who are blind or visually impaired. (From $21)


GINGERBREAD HOUSE WINGS is a nonprofit that, since 1985, has helped provide support for victims of domestic violence. The purchase of a gingerbread house for $100 will provide one night of shelter and food.


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Celebrate the spirit of the season in beautiful Chicagoland spaces with gorgeous music from the medieval era to the present. | 312.551.1414


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Family, friends come together for virtual memorial services By Nuria Mathog Editor The pandemic has dramatically changed the ways in which people celebrate important events, but as one Chicago-based company has found, even when distance and circumstances prove challenging, families and friends will always be committed to honoring the loved ones in their lives. Alexandra Koys, a Chicagoland native and current A family participates in a celebratory balloon release held Loop resident, launched Lighten in 2019 during her during one of Lighten’s outdoor celebrations of life. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Koys first year at the Chicago at Floating World Gallery in Lincoln Park. Booth School of Business. She found inMary Fencl, a longtime Chicago resident, spiration for the memorial services comfirst discovered Lighten through her niece, pany after planning a funeral service for who attended the Booth School of Business her uncle and observing several aspects with Koys. After the COVID-19 restrictions of the traditional funeral industry that felt began easing this year, she reached out to outdated, including a lack of technology Koys to discuss planning a service to honor and a sad, somber environment. her late husband, Tom, who lost his battle to “That was not the environment that we lung cancer in April 2020. were looking for for my uncle,” Koys said. “He The resulting service, held July 26, 2021, at was very young, a party kind of guy, so we the historic Davis Theater in Lincoln Square wanted something that felt more celebratory.” —a property owned by the Fencls—featured Initially, Lighten operated as a cona prayer service, words from a pastor, eulogies cierge-style planning service that worked and a slideshow. The event was so well-attendclosely with clients to plan uplifting memoed that the service in the main theater was rial ceremonies. When the pandemic hit shown on screens in two other theaters, and last year, preventing families and friends a YouTube livestream was provided for guests from meeting in person, Koys decided to unable to attend in person, Mary Fencl said. pivot and adapt to the changing environ“I couldn’t have been more pleased with ment by offering virtual celebrations of life. how everything went,” she said. Since the pandemic began, Lighten has For Koys, being able to help families in planned an average of one to five ceremonies their journey toward healing has been the a week, with more than 10,000 guests atmost important part of her work. tending services either virtually or in person. “We had a lot of families coming back and Lighten partners with local venues saying how meaningful an experience it was to offer experiential packages centered to finally feel like they were able to honor the around an individual’s passions and inperson who passed and get closure personterests — for instance, an avid sports fan ally on their grief, ” she said. “And I think to might be commemorated through a tailbe able to give that to people and help people gate-style event at Trigger Chicago, while an art enthusiast’s life might be celebrated achieve that has been really rewarding.”

2021 Chicagoland coat and toy drives By Jon Cohn Community Contributor

Donations are made through the Walmart gift registry.



ChiGivesBack: Conducting its fifth annual toy drive. In previous years the organization has collected more than 10,000 toys for kids in low-income or homeless situations.


Marine Toys For Tots: Since 1947. One of the nation’s and Chicago’s longest-standing and most popular toy drives. Toys can be dropped off at a variety of Chicago locations and the drive is looking for hosts for new locations.


Operation Christmas Child: Packs gift shoeboxes for thousands of kids in the Chicagoland area. Small gifts and toys are needed for the packing.


YPS: Young Professionals of Streeterville: Collecting gifts for a kindness bags initiative scheduled for Dec. 14. For more information, visit the Facebook page for Young Professionals of Streeterville.


Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center: Collects thousands of toys that are later given to children coming from a family experience with sexual abuse or other trauma.


Chicago Park District Toy Drive: This year in conjunction with WGN Morning News, the park district will be conducting its 18th annual toy drive. Gifts given out at a variety of Winter Wonderland Express Fieldhouses. Toy donations collected at select Jewel-Osco stores.


Marillac St Vincent House Family Services: Providing holiday toys and gifts for families in need for over 60 years.


Salvation Army Angel Tree program: Ongoing through Dec. 15. Provides gifts and toys to families in need.

Becca’s LEGacy: This will be the 14th annual toy drive where gifts are given to various Chicago area hospitals and cancer centers. This year’s toy drive will be virtual and gifts can be purchased from the organization’s Amazon wishlist.


Lurie Children’s Hospital: Accepts donations of gifts and toys for children in the hospital. Gifts can be dropped off in person or purchased through the hospital’s Amazon Wish List. Gift cards can be delivered or mailed in.


The Toy Box Connection: Donates gifts and toys to a variety of Chicago-area nonprofits. Donations of toys or gift cards are accepted at the organization’s South Side Chicago location.


The Toy Express: Serving Chicago’s western suburbs. Last year the organization collected and distributed more than 2,500 gifts and clothing to children in need. For more information, visit The Toy Express Facebook page or go to


Joy of Toys: Sponsored by the North Dearborn Association. Now in its 28th year, this drive will collect toys Dec. 4 at Mario’s Table, 21 W. Goethe St. Drop-off toys or donations accepted.


St Vincent DePaul Chicago Coat Drive: Accepting new and used coats to provide for the needy for this winter. More information at


Burlington Coat Factory: Winter coat drive. Accepting donations of coats at all store locations. 10% off any purchase when you bring in coat to donate. More information at burlington. com/coat-drive.


DECEMBER 2021 / 13





The Joffrey Ballet Ensemble in The Nutcracker. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

Nancy & Sanfred Koltun

LYRIC OPERA HOUSE 20 N. Wacker Dr. | Chicago, IL

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GET COOKIN’ WITH... Steak 48’s Chef Jeffery Taylor By Candid Candace Jordan

Save Room For Dessert!

Contributing editor ith a lifelong passion for cooking and more than 20 years of experience helming the kitchen at top restaurants across the country, Steak 48’s regional executive chef, Jeffery Taylor, brings extensive high-end steakhouse knowledge to the table. Taylor spent 14 years with Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group before joining the Steak 48 team in 2015 to open the company’s first restaurant in Houston. This followed months of intensive training under the Maestros’ tutelage at their Scottsdale locations, including Dominick’s Steakhouse and Steak 44. In 2019, Taylor accepted the position of regional executive chef overseeing culinary operations for Steak 48 Chicago. The interior of this popular hotspot is a warm and contemporary interpretation of the traditional American steakhouse featuring private floorto-ceiling glass dining suites looking into the kitchen and a variety of lively dining room options. The second floor offers diners beautiful views from an elegant outdoor patio. Besides offering a great steakhouse experience, the folks at Steak 48 Chicago love to give back. Under the direction of Oliver Badgio, chief brand officer at Prime Steak Concepts, with support from Agency H5, the restaurant regularly hosts and supports nonprofit events. In 2021, this included the YWCA, The Service Club of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo, among others. The list doesn’t include the restaurant’s countless donations to charity auctions through gift certificates, virtual cooking classes and more. When Chef Jeff is not in the kitchen, he enjoys spending time with his family and collecting classic and vintage sneakers. He shared one of his favorite holiday dishes—Bourbon Glazed Sweet Potatoes—which he calls “a must-have for all your gatherings this season.”


Steak 48’s Regional Executive Chef Jeffery Taylor.

BOURBON GLAZED SWEET POTATO RECIPE Ingredients 5 lbs of sweet potatoes Olive oil Salt and pepper (to taste) Bourbon (to taste) 1 tsp vanilla bean paste 2 cups of chicken broth 1 ½ tsp butter Marshmallow fluff or marshmallows for topping Directions Peel and dice sweet potatoes into ½ inch cubes. Toss sweet potatoes in olive oil until covered and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer sweet potatoes to a baking tray and roast them at 325°F in an oven for 35-45 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. For the Bourbon Glaze: Reduce chicken broth by half, thicken with a cornstarch slurry over a medium heat, constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Add ¼ tsp of vanilla bean paste per 2 cups of liquid. Finish with a dash of your favorite bourbon to taste and allow the alcohol to cook off. Dish assembly: Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, heat in a sauté pan with a pat of butter. Add 2 tbsp of glaze per 1 ½ cups of sweet potatoes. Top with marshmallow fluff or marshmallows and toast in the oven or with a culinary torch until golden brown.



Say cheese! Wouldn’t it be easier to order take-out for Christmas dinner? Dear Candid Candace: I have a holiday dinner cooking quandary for you. Our family always hosts a big Christmas dinner. I am always amazed at the amount of cooking, shopping, preparation and planning—not to mention time and effort it takes to put it all together—for the relatives and other family members. Full disclosure, my wife does all the cooking, but clean-up is my department and that can take a long time as well. I always suggest just ordering the dinner from a restaurant and picking it up (so much easier) but I get shot down every year. Your thoughts? —Too Much Time Washing Dishes Dear Too Much Time: I know how you feel, and it does seem like such a shame that all of this time and effort goes into something that is gone in a flash. But this is exactly what the joy of the holidays is all about. It’s the time you spend with family—shopping for the food, preparing it together and sharing stories and memories throughout the entire process—that makes this “long” prep time such a lasting memory. I remember when I was a child baking Christmas cookies (well, more like making a mess) with my mom. We laughed at our mistakes, sampled the dough, remembered past relatives whose dish it was and so much more. Do I remember eating the cookie? No, but I sure remember everything else that transpired around the baking process. Maybe gather a few kids around the sink, have them dry and then share a few holiday memories of your own. Dear Candid Candace: My children get many gifts from Santa. There’s a pile for each child as tall as they are and every year it gets bigger. Santa did not visit me when I was young but my parents very generously

When it comes to holiday hosting, we have a secret: We’ve ditched sit-down dinners in favor of cheese boards. Chock full of cheese, crackers, bread, meats, jams, nuts and other accoutrements, a board keeps people mingling, moving and socializing, while also making sure they’re filling up on plenty of delicious, gourmet ingredients. On top of it all, they look gorgeous, too! Here are a few guidelines to follow to create a beautiful, bountiful, well-balanced board. THE CHEESE NEVER STANDS ALONE Offer a wide variety of cheeses in terms of texture, complexity and depth of flavor. For example, a rich triple-cream, an earthy option like Italian provolone and a hard cheese like a five-year gouda make a great combination.

gave me one present each year that was something I liked. My husband thinks the over-the-top Santa gifts are great! How do I teach my children and my husband about not wasting without being a Grinch? —Should I Feel Guilty Dear Should I Feel Guilty: Gift giving is a big question these days—how much is too much and how little is not enough? Growing up, my parents showered me with gifts since I was the only child of divorced parents. I have since followed their lead with my own gift-giving. It’s a joy to be able to give gifts to those you love. However, especially for young children, I think it would be important, and a great lesson, if you made them aware of the fact that not all children are as lucky as they are. Let them know about the “other side” of life too. Maybe asking them to purchase a gift for a child in need will help them appreciate their own situation as well as put a smile on that child’s face. Send questions to: CandidCandace@ Follow Candid Candace (Candace Jordan) on Facebook, Insta, LinkedIn and Twitter.

MIX UP THE MEATS Similarly, aim for a variety of meats that bring together contrasting flavors and textures. Start with a crowd-pleasing dried salami, then add a dry-cured ham like jamon serrano and a slice of thick patê. PUMP UP THE JAM Jams and spread round out a board. Try cherry or fig, which pair well with both cheeses and meats. But add what you like — unexpected elements give a personal touch. PILE ON When it comes to bread and crackers, blend classic and flavorful options for the right accompaniment. Think French baguettes, simple crackers and a nutty fruit crisp. GO NUTS Finally, add some crunch. We like salty Marcona almonds or a sweet-savory option, like nuts sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. PERFECT PAIRINGS Stock your party bar with these drinks to bring out the flavors on your cheese board. *An earthy and fruity red wine will pair well with cured meats and funky cheeses without overpowering them. *Full-bodied whites are rich enough to stand up to a funky cheese, with a lingering acidity that will cleanse your palate. *A dry, refreshing sparkling wine balances the richness of pate and creamy cheeses. *Toasty beer makes a great partner for an earthy Swiss cheese, salmi and roasted nuts.

16 / DECEMBER 2021


| CHICAGO STAR’S TOP HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS | Schedules are subject to change. Call venues to confirm event information. To submit events or advertise on this page, email Continued from page 5 ‘Ruth Page’s The Nutcracker’ The Ruth Page Center for the Art’s 50th anniversary season continues with this must-see holiday spectacle, “Ruth Page’s The Nutcracker.” Originally presented in the Arie Crown Theatre from 1965 until 1997, this production recreates Ruth Page’s original full-length staging. Featuring international artists alongside the Ruth Page Civic Ballet Training Company’s dancers, experience the exquisite performances, stunning costumes, and magical settings in the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of the Sweets. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, Northeastern Illinois University, Steinberg Fine Arts Center, 3701 West Bryn Mawr, Chicago,

Dec. 12

The Second City: “It’s a Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Life” For the perfect holiday de-stressor, comedy’s best and brightest roast the chestnuts out of all the things we lovingly loathe about the Holiday season. Parking is free, and tickets are available for purchase online. 4 p.m., McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Boulevard., Glen Ellyn,

Dec. 14

Broadway in Chicago: “The Play That Goes Wrong” The Tony Award-winning hit comedy returns to Chicago in a limited seven-week engagement running through Jan. 30 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower

Church, 7300 Division St., River Forest,; 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, St. Michael Church, 1633 N. Cleveland Ave., Chicago; 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, Saints Faith, Hope, & Charity Church, 191 Linden St., Winnetka,; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, Alice Millar Chapel- Northwestern University, 1870 Sheridan Road., Evanston, Music of the Barogue Holiday Brass & Choral Concerts. Photo by ElliotMandel

Place. What would happen if Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python had an illegitimate Broadway baby? You’d get “The Play That Goes Wrong.” Tickets start at $30, with a select number of premium tickets available. Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St.,

Dec. 15

Holiday Open House at The Mid-America Club The Mid-America Club invites Chicago Star readers to come learn about membership and the “Community in the Sky” at this complimentary event. Expand your local network, make valuable connections and enjoy amazing views from the 80th floor of the Aon Center. Reservations are required and space is limited. RSVP to the membership director at (312) 856-9484 or email melissa.czyz@ Business-casual attire. 6-7:30 p.m., Mid-America Club, Aon Center, 80th Floor, 200 E. Randolph St.,

Dec. 16

Music of the Baroque: Holiday Brass & Choral Concerts The conductor of the Montreal Symphony Chorus, Andrew Megill, conducts a program featuring mystical chant, jubilant Renaissance and Baroque works for brass, ethereal music for a cappella choir and celebratory works for the entire ensemble. Purchase tickets at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, Grace Lutheran

Dec. 31

New Philharmonic: New Year’s Eve Concerts Guest Tenor Ted Pickell joins New Philharmonic and Maestro Kirk Muspratt to ring out the old year and ring in the new in a concert of Viennese Classics, arias, pop music and more, including the traditional “Auld Lang Syne.” Parking is free, and tickets are available online. 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn,


DECEMBER 2021 / 17


Doorperson of the Month Derrick Funches, Lead Doorman of Avenue East Condo Association

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Derrick Funches, of the Avenue East Condominium Association, is Doorperson of the Month.

By Jacqueline Davis Freelance Reporter Derrick Funches, lead doorman of the Avenue East Condominium Association, 160 E. Illinois St., takes his job very seriously. Although he is serious about the residents’ safety and the security of the building, he is anything but grave. Funches is as affable as he is protective and professional, with an infectious laugh and ample sense of humor. Residents claim they have never seen him without his smile. “I can be silly at times,” Funches said. “But I really just love a good laugh and just being around people in general.” Born and raised in Chicago, Funches credits his large family—and particularly the strength of his mother—with giving him his vigor and confidence. He lives in Harvey, Ill., with his one-and-a-halfyear-old German Shepherd, Bear, and a 75-gallon aquarium tank, home to eels and various types of fish. With nearly 15 years under his belt at the Avenue East Condo Association, Funches said the key to making residents happy is to listen and remind himself that this is their home. He makes an effort to

Lauren Lein at the Service Club Gala November 5, 2021. Pictured L-R: Sally Jo Morris Pfaff, Bethany Florek, Lauren Lein

Happy Holidays Streeterville! From Your Favorite Couples of Characters!

Avenue East Condo Association, 160 E. Illinois St. Photos by Jacqueline Davis

not only remember everyone’s names but also recall tidbits of information, both big and small, about each resident. “Communication is key, as well as taking great pride and gratitude in what I do,” he said. “The best part of my job? My residents. I love my residents all the time. I try to do whatever I can to make them know they’re home.” To nominate your favorite doorperson, email with their name and why they should be the doorperson of the month. Winners will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

Minnie Mouse & Mickey Mouse

Dennis Downes & Gail Spreen

Cap Streeter & Spot Streeter

18 / DECEMBER 2021



The origins of ‘SAUNTA Claus’


Easy ways to share this holiday season By Angela Gagnon Community Contributor ’Tis the season to volunteer. Giving back spreads goodwill and cheer and can be a fun and meaningful way to spend your time this holiday season. In Chicago, there is no shortage of opportunities to lend a helping hand. Feeding the hungry is a yearround effort, but there is greater need for volunteers during the colder months. Visit to find a local food bank or join in the fight to end hunger by working with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Serving guests at a soup kitchen, sorting through donated food items or delivering meals to those in need are just a few ways to help ensure that no one goes hungry this holiday season. Send joy to seniors in Chicago with The Love Notes Program from Meals on Wheels, where volunteers can include uplifting messages to be included with deliveries. Visit for more information on how to brighten someone’s day with a sweet note and a nutritious meal. Cradles to Crayons provides Chicagoland’s most underserved children with everything they need to be successful at home, school and play. Volunteers help power that mission by inspecting, sorting and distributing donations. Visit for more information on how to get involved.

Donnell Miller volunteers as a Salvation Army Bell Ringer outside of the Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue. He’s been a volunteer bell ringer for five years. Photo by Angela Gagnon

Donate gently used home goods and furniture to Digs With Dignity. Donations will help elevate the lives of those transitioning from homelessness and repurpose the items for good instead of sending them to landfills. More information can be found at The Salvation Army collects used household goods and clothing, and you can also donate spare change to the organization’s signature red kettles. Become a bell ringer

and help raise funds that sustain The Salvation Army’s efforts throughout the year. Volunteers can also help support their Angel Tree program, which provides toys to Chicago’s children. Visit ways-to-give to learn more. Making a monetary donation is another great way to fight hunger or contribute to the charity of your choice, especially if you can’t commit your time. However you choose to give back this season, you can make a difference.

few years ago, my boyfriend and I broke up on Dec. 11. I called my sister crying. Her response? “That’s crazy. I just heard on the news that Dec. 11 is the biggest breakup day of the year,” she said. It wasn’t exactly the sympathy I was looking for, but it’s a nice little trivia fact to Bridget McGuire keep in your back pocket and use at holiday COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTOR parties this season. You’re welcome. I was upset. Even though the breakup wasn’t a big surprise, my ex-boyfriend and I had tickets to go to Paris on Christmas Day. C’est la vie, I guess. A week later, I had to go to an annual holiday party with my extended family. I was dreading it. As much as I love my big family, I wasn’t in the mood to tell people we broke up. As I sipped my Chianti, attempting to blend into the chaos, my aunt tapped me on the shoulder. “Your cousin Matt is stuck at the office and can’t make it to the party,” she said. “You are the only single cousin here. Will you play Santa?” Insteading of dwelling on the words “you are the only single cousin here,” I said, “Do dogs bark? Hell yeah, I’ll play Santa!” Within minutes, any sadness I felt was gone and my spirits were lifted. With the help of my cousins, I slipped into the famous red suit to play the man, now woman, of the hour. With a high pitched “Ho! Ho! Ho!” that sounded like Peter Brady going through puberty, I fooled no one. It didn’t help that my niece yelled out, “Why is Santa wearing heels?” With that, my nephew jumped up and pulled down my white beard and yelled, “That’s not Santa, that’s Aunt Booty!” Every year since, I suit up and play Santa. It’s become a fun family tradition. The older kids like to help me get dressed and the younger kids love to call it out that they know it’s me. A relationship may have died in 2016, but SAUNTA Claus was born. Bridget McGuire is a Chicago based storyteller, stand-up comedian and is a co-producer of “All That Good Stuff,” a traveling comedy show that started on the southside of Chicago. Follow her on Instagram at @bmcguire82.


DECEMBER 2021 / 19



Holidays? Again? Why?

t’s hard for me to figure out. I am an optimistic, generally happy-go-lucky guy by nature, who as a kid used to absolutely love the Christmas season. So, why now does the beginning of another holiday season hit me with equal parts fear, trepidation, anxiousness and malaise, with a slight dose of Jon Cohn COMMUNITY here-we-go-again anger thrown in CONTRIBUTOR just for good measure? Before writing this month’s column I took some time to self-analyze my admittedly sad and dangerously close to demented attitude. Note: Self-analysis is much cheaper than going to an actual professional, and eminently less painful on the ego. After much thought and a few strange dreams that I


can’t talk about, I think I’ve finally located the particular point of contention: Age. Or aging. Take your pick, as for me it is kind of like the opposite of the cake or cake with ice cream comparison. Specifically, it’s how fast time goes as you get older. When young, one month seemed like an eternity. Now? The months fly by faster than Michael Phelps through water. I turn the calendar from August to September, and boom! Before the pages barely dry, October is knocking on the door. My monthly bills show up like they are on some kind of sped-up conveyor belt, and seasonal chores rapidly move from “I haven’t yet finished spring cleaning” to “Honey, did you rake the leaves?” So, with all that as a preface, it best explains why I have a hard time getting psyched up for the soon approaching holiday season. Simply put, it just comes around too often. It is hard to get fired up for Christmas, when I feel like I just took

down the lights from last year—which, come to think of it, is a lot closer to the truth than I care to admit. But I digress. Now, if you have read this back-of-the-paper section before, you know I don’t like to just complain without proposing solutions. So, I offer this: How about Christmas being celebrated, just like the Olympic Games, once every four years? Drastic, I know, but let it simmer for a moment. Think how excited we would be for the holiday season if it came around just once every four years. The anticipation would be off the charts. Buying gifts, writing cards and putting up decorations would be met by can’t wait-excitement instead of the current here-we-go-again doldrums. Happy holidays once every four years. Brilliant, right? Just don’t tell the kids. Jon Cohn is a New Eastside resident. Email ideas for Jon to

Community photo





Send photos and captions of things going on in the neighborhood to for a chance for your photo to be featured.

A plant or tree that keeps its foliage throughout the year: Previous puzzle answer: A feeling of appreciation: GRATITUDE


Do you know where this is? If you think you know this spot, email us at Answer to previous Where am I? Chicago Star readers Wendy Hauser, Kathi Gormley and Tony Crane correctly identified the fountain at Washington Square Park, across the street from the Newberry Library.

Chicago’s only floral fashion show, Fleurotica, returned to the Garfield Park Conservatory featuring designs made entirely of flowers and plant materials. The 113-year-old Conservatory offers 14 acres of gardens and houses two plants that are 350 years old. Photo by Candace Jordan

20 / DECEMBER 2021

Shine Bright this Holiday Season! CH I CA G O S TA R

Stroll through Seven Themed-Based Illuminated Worlds Train Rides | Santa’s Workshop | Winter Tubing | Holiday Market & More!

Now - Jan. 2 • Get Tickets at Impact Field • 9850 Balmoral • Rosemont For Group Tickets Call 847-636-5450