Monday, November 16, 2009

A "C-ensational" Cookbook: New American Table

Ever notice when you're sitting amongst family and friends at an intimate dinner party or holiday celebration, someone always breaks out a heart-warming tale about the cuisine that shaped their life? Such is the premise for Chef Marcus Samuelsson's hot new cookbook, New American Table (Wiley Hardcover, $40.00), which documents some of the nation's most beloved, culturally-diverse dishes.

As a young, talented Ethiopian-born chef growing up in Sweden, Chef Samuelsson (C-House, Chicago and Aquavit, NYC) spent his childhood summers cooking seafood delicacies in local fishing villages then later as a top chef in Switzerland. When Samuelsson left "the land of Michelin for the land of the burger" (a term coined by a former Swiss chef) to start a successful career in the U.S., he created an award-winning style of cooking which married his culinary roots with an appreciation for his new country's diverse food flavors and bicultural celebrations. Samuelsson succeeds in making other culture's favorite cuisines look mouth-watering (the food photography is truly delectable) and offers delicious dishes for readers to enjoy at their own kitchen tables.

Maple-Glazed Tuna with Pear-Potato Salad

Mini Yellowtail Tacos

The airy elegance of C-House in the Affinia Hotel

Luxe File Chicago caught up recently with Chef Marcus Samuelsson, one of the country's most exciting and celebrated culinarians, while he was in town cooking up some finger-licking good crab cakes and promoting his new food bible at the Affinia Hotel.

Sweet Home Chicago: Chef Samuelsson at C-House

Luxe File Chicago: Tell us what we can expect from your cookbook, New American Table? How did you come up with the title?
Marcus Samuelsson:
New American Table is filled with over 300 recipes and photos focusing on the discussion of diversity within American cuisine. The title and the concept of the book were inspired by the immigrant story of American foods and it’s a book filled with diverse recipes by a diverse nation.

LFC: What utensil could you not cook without?
MS: You always need a great pan, a spatula that can handle even delicate fish and a good, sharp knife.

LFC: When you're not wearing chef's whites, what designer or clothing are you comfortable wearing?
MS: My style is a mixed bag. I love labels like ISAIA and Valentino as well as Nudie Jeans from Sweden. I especially love vintage clothes because they offer a history from a different era and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to mix up the old with the new.

LFC: Favorite places in the world you like to go for inspiration?
MS: I like downtown Los Angeles a lot. Internationally, I go to South Africa and Singapore for inspiration.

LFC: Which chefs do you admire?
MS: I admire many chefs because I understand how much hard work it takes to do what we do. I really look up to Leah Chase from New Orleans and all of the chefs the world doesn’t know because they are the ones who make the profession what it is, they give it its heart.

LFC: How does Chicago cuisine stock up against other foodie cities like NY, LA, and Paris?
MS: Chicago is just as world-class as New York City and definitely more diverse than Paris.

LFC: Favorite place to dine out in Chicago?
MS: Of course, I love C-View. Dining on the rooftop during the summertime in Chicago is amazing. Charlie Trotter’s has made a wonderful commitment to doing American fine dining properly and I really appreciate that. Arun and Avec are also great places.

LFC: Any plans on producing or starring in your own TV cooking show?
MS: I’d love to have my own show, it just needs to be the opportunity where I can do cooking my way. I’m absolutely looking forward to it in the future.

LFC: When no one's looking, what do you like to pig out on?
MS: I’ve always liked a really good burger which was what inspired me to create Marc Burger.

LFC: If you weren't a chef, what would you be?
MS: A baker.

LFC: Most memorable/disastrous cooking experience?
MS: When I was younger, I saved up my own money and traveled to Japan to eat the blowfish. I was broke afterward but very happy. Another was when Charlie Trotter took me to Arun for the first time – very memorable.

LFC: For newbie chefs following in your footsteps, what advice would you give them?
MS: In anything you do, it’s important to work hard and be truly passionate. It’s also important to work with several different chefs throughout your career and travel often so you can gain a lot of experience both in the kitchen and out. Also, work on developing your own point of view in terms of taste yet stay humble.

LFC: When you're not cooking, what do you enjoy doing?
MS: I love to paint and hang out with my wife.

Story by Kerry and Sally Shorr

Photographs courtesy of XA, THE EXPERIENTIAL AGENCY

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cocktails and Collections: Michael Kors Boutique Debuts in Chicago

King of the Runway: Michael Kors

The City of Big Shoulders just got a little bigger thanks to designer and Bravo's Fashion Runway co-star, Michael Kors, who recently took over the former Stuart Weitzman space at The 900 Shops to open his latest flagship boutique featuring women's ready-to-wear, accessories, and fragrances.

To kick off the opening of the hot new digs for his fashion flock, Michael Kors recently threw a cocktail party (sponsored by Moët & Chandon) and runway show featuring his Spring 2010 line that was hyper-urbane, and revealed an appreciation for the city's architectural roots. As models strutted down the catwalk to the stilleto-tapping music of DJ Rock City, fashionites enjoyed sleeveless zigzag zipper dresses, sexy power suits, and sleek sheaths in a variety of must-have textures, bold graphics and yummy white, sky blue and mint green flavors. Accessory highlights included lucite bubble necklaces, creamy leather clutches and metallic-and-plastic slingbacks. Following a pair of black and silver paillette trompe-l'oeil sequined dresses (the kind Rachel Zoe would declare as "bananas"), Michael Kors, clad in his uniform jeans and a blazer, enjoyed the Chicago limelight as he took a well-deserved spin down the catwalk to a thunderous applause.

Guests enjoyed a delicious assortment of passed hors d’oeuvres including Toasted Walnut and Blue Cheese Shortbread, Ahi Tuna Tartar, Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio, and Gruyere Souffle while sipping the signature cocktail, “The Collection” - a lip-smacking concoction of Belvedere Pure, cranberry juice, Moët & Chandon Imperial and garnished with fresh raspberries all butlered by Limelight Catering.

The Host Committee
Linda Johnson Rice, Toni Canada, Candace Jordan, Michael Kors, Amanda Puck, Julie Clark Lampert

Guests included Mary Ann Childers, Chaz Ebert, Gale Gottlieb, Shauna Montgomery, Nicole Jacob, Cindy Burns, Judge Mary Pat Burns, Greg Hyder, Jim Smith, Christopher Clinton Conway, Coco Meers, Helen Melchior, Barbara Kipper, Paul Iacono, John Regas, Astra Gamsjaeger, Corinne Melchior, D.C. and Alayna Crenshaw, Margaret O’Connor, Noren Ungaretti, Michaela Parillo, Rebecca Besser, Sharyl Mackey, Lynn McMahan, Dusty Stemer, Sophie Bross, Jannie and Elliot Pearlman, Jan Melk, Ricardo Santiago, Trevian Kutti, Rochelle Smith, Connie and Katherine Saville, George Fuller, Gwen Callans, Rhonda Sanderson, Samantha Amato, Amalie Drury, Graham Kostic, Mary Kay DeMaio, Mary Ann Murphy, Lynne Bredfeldt, Stephanie Miller and Andrea Schwartz.

Michael Kors is located at 900 N. Michigan Avenue. For more information or store hours, call (312) 915-3916 or visit

Story by Sally Shorr
Photographs courtesy of XA, THE EXPERIENTIAL AGENCY

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Interviews from the Pink Carpet: VS Supermodel Angels Marisa Miller, Miranda Kerr and Doutzen Kroes

Doutzen Kroes and Marisa Miller

Recently at the Victoria's Secret Michigan Avenue Flagship Opening Party, Luxe File Chicago asked VS Angels Marisa Miller, Miranda Kerr and Doutzen Kroes to spill some sexy secrets...

Luxe File Chicago's Sally Shorr and Marisa Miller

Luxe File Chicago: What does being an Angel mean to you?
Marisa Miller: You know it’s so amazing. Victoria’s Secret represents such a fun, healthy sexy brand. So to be an angel is a girls’ dream come true! It’s a lot of fun to be here in Chicago. You have such an exciting nightlife and the energy of a big city, but at the same time the people are just like a small town feel. I love coming here!

LFC: What does “sexy” mean to you and what do you wear?
MM: I think with lingerie you have to be comfortable but at the same time it’s so important to feel sexy and good about yourself. Even if no one sees it and you have it on underneath, I always feel a little sassier.

LFC: Besides VS, who are you wearing tonight?
MM: The dress is Jimmy Choo and shoes are YSL.

LFC: Can I just tell you that you are my screensaver?
MM: Thank you! A compliment coming from a woman is very flattering.

LFC: Are you planning on doing any shopping tonight?
MM: Oh yeah, I’m definitely going to do a lot of shopping. The store is beautiful and it’s fully stocked!

LFC: Are you going to be wearing the $3 million dollar bra?
MM: Yes, I’m wearing the Fantasy Bra this year, which is amazing! It’s such an honor and it’s a big part of the fashion show as well. I’m really happy and thrilled to wear it.

Miranda Kerr

Luxe File Chicago: What does being an Angel mean to you?
Miranda Kerr: I am very flattered that I am an Angel and I get to work with a wonderful company that treats us like angels. We get flown around the world, stay in the most beautiful places, we get to wear the most beautiful underwear and we have a really great time.

LFC: What does “sexy” mean to you?
MK: Sexy is being comfortable in your own skin. (Are you reading this, Orlando?)

LFC: Are you doing any lingerie shopping tonight?
MK: Definitely! This store is incredible, it has everything a girl could ever want…but more. We were in there today and I was like, ‘could I buy something now?’ and they were like, ‘no, you have to wait for tonight!’ The great thing is that part of the proceeds goes to the Gateway Green which is a great cause and helps clean up Chicago.

LFC: Besides VS, who are you wearing tonight?
MK: I definitely have my VS underwear on! I am wearing the VS Miraculous Bra in pink, the dress is Herve Leger, Damiani jewelry, and Christian Louboutin shoes.

LFC: How do you manage to look so fabulous on your hectic schedule?
MK: I’m really passionate about health and nutrition. I feed my body with the right foods and eat organic whenever and wherever I can.

Doutzen Kroes

Luxe File Chicago: What does being an Angel mean to you?
Doutzen Kroes: It means having confidence and happiness. As an Angel, you have to be able to convey and talk about the brand and bring it to the people. As Angels, we both embrace women and the power of femininity. We also have fun, or at least that is what I’m trying to make of it!

LFC: What does “sexy” mean to you?
DK: Sexy means confidence. Every woman is a little insecure, I think, but there has to be balance. I think too much confidence is overwhelming. That’s what VS is all about: keeping some things private and showing it off to the right person.

LFC: How does lingerie – and men – help women feel more sexy and confident?
DK: That’s the power of lingerie: when you put it on, you immediately feel sexy. Men need to talk more to women, take her to a spa and make her feel good. Also men should take their girlfriends and wives to VS and get pampered! We also offer VIP fittings, which gives women the best advice on what to wear and what feels sexy and comfortable.

LFC: In addition to VS, who else are you wearing tonight?
DK: I’m wearing a vintage dress, Damiani jewelry and Fendi shoes.

LFC: Any fashion words of wisdom?
DK: Go with what feels good because then you can carry it off. For me it’s always jeans and a t-shirt, nice shoes and a good bag. It’s all about the accessories for me.

LFC: What is your favorite VS lingerie?
DK: I love lingerie that is simple, lacy and of course, sexy!

Interviews and story by Sally Shorr
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Wirth

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Victoria’s Secret Michigan Avenue Flagship Opening Party

VS Angels Miranda Kerr, Doutzen Kroes and Marisa Miller

It was a night of sexy lingerie and angel spottings on October 22, when Victoria's Secret threw an invite-only launch party in partnership with Chicago Gateway Green to celebrate the opening of its new flagship store on the über-prestigious Magnificent Mile.

While the doors didn't officially open to the public until October 23, a few lucky media including Luxe File Chicago’s Kerry and Sally Shorr and golden Chitowners scooped up invitations to the fabulous fete, which was promoted by JKLS PR's Jill Katz and Lara Ship, and featured a pink carpet laden with Victoria’s Secret Supermodel Angels Marisa Miller, Miranda Kerr and Doutzen Kroes along with a virtual Who’s Who of Chitown’s most influential newsmakers.

Chicago Gateway Green Committee

Victoria's Secret CEO Sharen Turney

The Bachelorette's Jillian Harris and Ed Swiderski

Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson

Chicago Bears' Lance Briggs

Chicago White Sox's Chris Getz

Chuck and Candace Jordan

Movie critic Richard Roeper

Michigan Avenue Magazine's Susanna Negovan

Victoria's Secret's Miranda Kerr, Doutzen Kroes, Sharen Turney and Marisa Miller

Doutzen Kroes and Marisa Miller

Once inside the 18,000-square foot lingerie and beauty mecca, guests feasted on hors d'oeuvres and sipped the signature cocktail, the “Magnificent Mile Martini” by Limelight Catering, while frolicking with the gorgeous (and very gregarious) Angels, Victoria’s Secret CEO Sharen Turney and Chicago sports stars including Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, Bulls Taj Gibson (and his brother, Floyd) and Derrick Rose, White Sox second baseman Chris Getz and former Bear Jerry Azumah.

Guests mingled amongst pretty lingerie...

...and sexy scents

Marisa mingling with VS party-goers

Limelight Catering's "Magnificent Mile Martinis"

More notable guests included Chuck and Candace Jordan, Jerry Kleiner, Vincent Anzalone, Lonnie Rodriguez, Alexs Botelho, Marisa Molinaro, Steve Traxler, Lee Ellison, Rebecca and Charlie Besser, Richard Roeper, The Bachelorette’s Jillian Harris and Ed Swiderski, Trevian Kutti, Rich Foreside, Tonya Adamson, Billy Dec, Dan Uslen, Diane McGrath, Cat and Joe D’Orio, Kimberly Murray, Chris Norman, Chad and Adam Kramer, Brooks Rogalski, Elizavetta Efimova, Bracken Zimmerman, the Landan twins, Marty Berman, Jennifer Lane, Lou Canellis, Jessica Girdwain, Alec and Jeanette Ross, Paul Lee, Schae Lewis, Aeron Lancero, John Walcher, Jennifer Wirth, Melissa and Henrique Kerch, Steve Starr and Kelli Zink.

Vincent Anzalone and Lonnie Rodriguez

Katherine Stephens and Billy Dec

Bracken Zimmerman, center, and guests

Victoria’s Secret is located at 734 N. Michigan Avenue and features the popular PINK collection plus a sexy assortment of classic bras and panties, sleepwear and swimsuits. Guests also enjoy VIP rooms for custom fittings and a unique Body Match Scanner that incorporates white light to determine a woman’s perfect fit. The store is also conducting ongoing open casting calls to find the next Runway Angel, who will strut down the catwalk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to be broadcast Tuesday, December 1st (10:00 p.m. EST).

Shhh! Chicago's best-kept secret

Written by Sally Shorr
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Wirth and Candace Jordan