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Several months back I wrote about the tragedy that befell the family of chef Dean Zanella, long of 312 Chicago and Rhapsody—his wife Mary died suddenly, just days after giving birth to their twin daughters. There are two benefits being held for the twins, Anna and Nora. One is Tuesday, August 26th at River Roast, from 9 PM to midnight; chefs Tony Mantuano and John Hogan (who will be the next Key Ingredient chef, incidentally) will host a star-studded group of chefs (Kahan, Tentori, Virant, Manion, Hickey, et cetera) serving up food and drink on the patio. It's $75 per person, all of which goes to the Zanella Family Trust for the childrens' education.
Or if you really want to eat well while sending two kids to college, check out "A Year of Chicago Dining," an auction package put together by chef Carrie Nahabedian (Naha) which includes gift cards from over 100 restaurants from Alinea to Green Zebra, Zanella himself cooking for a party of ten at your home, a year of pie from Hoosier Mama, and more. Bidding starts at $20,000 . . . as does college.
• Tuesday night from 8 PM to midnight, CH DIstillery (which I wrote about here) will have Matt Poli and chef Cosmo Goss of the Publican as its guest bartenders. Poli will make Cuba Libres and a drink called Hip Hop Tonic, while Goss will dish up fettunta with tomatoes and ricotta.
• Want to make a fondue dinner even more special? Geja's Cafe, Chicago's tribute to the neverending romance of meat and hot oil, will have a winemaker dinner on September 8th with wines from Dosio Vigneti in Piedmont. It's $55 for four courses with pairings; call 773-281-9101 for a reservation.
• Food and wine, that's old school. How about an orchestra, a punk marching band, and beer? Chicago Sinfonietta and beer from Two Brothers Brewing Company will set the stage for a concert-off between the Sinfonietta and Chicago's raucous Mucca Pazza; it's September 20th in Naperville and September 22nd at Symphony Center downtown. Get more info here.
• Are two Chinatown restaurants still advertising shark fin soup on their menus, in light of the fact that Governor Quinn signed a bill outlawing shark fins in July 2012? My guess is Eater Chicago looked at old menus online . . . or it's a cheaper shark substitute than the actual, illegal endangered species part.
• What's the state of food media in Chicago these days? I talked about that with Mike Stephen on his Outside the Loop podcast last week here. Then I talked some more about it with Michael Nagrant on my own Airwaves Full of Bacon, here. And here's a good guide to wine podcasts.