Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

My New Favorite Place for Food, Drink and Jazz

Family friends recently opened a lovely jazz club on the Northwest Side of Chicago, featuring great food and live jazz Wednesday through Saturday. They’re closed on Sundays except for private parties.

The Playroom is located at 7958 W. Belmont, across from Guerin Prep High School, between Harlem and Cumberland Avenues. It’s a beautiful long room, with a bar along one side, tables and high tops along the other wall, and a small stage in the back. The decor is subdued, tasteful and comfortable. The service is neighborhood friendly and efficient.

Among my favorites are the pasta dishes, especially Pasta Josephine, named after the wife of one of the co-owners. They make a great pizza, wonderful appetizers, and filet of beef sliders that are to die for (excuse the pun from a dying chef).

Best of all, it’s a great place to hang out for middle-aged adults who appreciate good food, drink and music.  One no longer needs to deal with traffic and the Gen-Xers at the hot spots in Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Lakeview, Old Town and Rush Street.

Culinary Abuse?

I cook for a number of singles, couples and families who enjoy great food and are willing to try new dishes.  Unfortunately,  I also cook for clients who will not, under any circumstances, try any food other than what is familiar to them.

When I meet with a new client, we discuss their likes and dislikes so that I can custom-design a menu for them. Some clients have such a long “dislike” list that it’s easier to ask them what they DO like.

What I’ve learned from my nearly seven years as a personal chef is that many people were culinarily abused as children, and that has permanently colored their attitudes about  food.

What constitutes culinary abuse?

* Forcing  children to clean their plates, regardless of the portion sizes or their appetites.

* Sending children to bed without dinner as punishment.

* Using dinner time to discuss difficult issues or to dole out punishment.

* Serving only canned fruits and vegetables. No wonder so many people dislike spinach and asparagus. They’ve never eaten the real stuff.

* Relying on high-sodium, preservative-laden “convenience” products like Hamburger Helper, bottled salad dressings, rice and pasta mixes, etc.

* Serving the same  meals week after week after week. One client will not eat succotash or anything with lima beans because canned succotash was the only side dish she was served as a child.

* Lying to children about what they’re eating. My mother once tried to pass off beef liver and onions as minute steaks. My grandmother told me that all mushrooms are poisonous, and fish eat whatever we flush down the toilet.

* Calling a trip to the local fast-food drive-thru  a meal.

* Assuming their child won’t like something because the parents don’t.

* Telling children, especially young girls, that they’re too fat when they’re not.

* Telling children that they’re too thin and should eat more.

* Keeping unhealthy snacks in the  house.  Cookies, chips, candy,  sugared sodas,  and fruit juices have their place as occasional treats, not regular after-school snacks.

* Using food as a pacifier. “Here, eat this cookie, it will make you feel better.”

* Making different dishes for different family members for the same meal.

It’s time to stop the abuse!