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Elysabeth Alfano
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Elysabeth Alfano is an arts and culture journalist, former gallery owner and TV and stage producer. She has been bridging the gap between artists and the public for almost 20 years. Born to parents who were odd collectors and dedicated art enthusiasts, she went on to study art history and fashion in Paris and Florence. She returned to Chicago and owned a successful international art gallery for 10 years, stretching her arts connections beyond the visual arts to all arts communities throughout the city. Having the itch to create herself, she then opened an accessories company, working in the Chicago fashion industry and designing and producing textiles, while expanding her contacts into the design and fashion community.

In 2009 she started her production company, Fear No ART Chicago, which launched its first show, Fear No ART on PBS’ WTTW, with Alfano as its Creator, Executive Producer and Host. The success of the show was remarkable and, with the gaining momentum of the internet, it branched out into a very popular bi-weekly web series. With all statistics pointing to the internet as the new TV, Ms. Alfano launched a new show, in addition to Fear No ART, with a new format, entitled, The Dinner Party, on January 30, 2012. The show is a live talk show where Alfano invites 3 celebs to a dinner created by a guest chef. Over food, wine and a few impromptu performances, the conversations flow! Filmed live in front of a live audience at City Winery, the show is as close as possible to TV broadcast quality with a five camera feed and a live editor, streaming live on The Chicago Sun Times. Viewers can twitter in and participate in the show by asking guests questions and winning prizes if their tweet is asked on stage. Watch the show live on The Sun Times or join in at the City Winery.

In addition, Ms. Alfano taught Graduate and Undergraduate classes in Marketing For the Visual Artists at Columbia College, and has freelanced on various arts projects, including writing art reviews and artist consulting. She has also done voice-overwork for Kurtis Productions and took the Improv for Actors Series with Second City. She has done countless TV interviews and has done artist interviews for NPR’s WBEZ.

Entries by Elysabeth Alfano

Giuliana and Bill Rancic and Chef Psaltis Discuss Their Newest Venture, RPM Steak

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 4:21 PM

Something we often discuss on The Dinner Party is what makes a successful restaurant. Owning a restaurant is tricky business, with restaurants opening and closing like automated doors. Yet, the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant Group, along with partners Giuliana and Bill Rancic, seems to defy the culinary norm....

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Charlie Trotter Day Is August 17

(0) Comments | Posted August 7, 2014 | 3:20 PM

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I did not know Charlie Trotter personally. However, because he had mentored so many chefs who have been guests on The Dinner Party, I feel like I knew him.

My only run-in with Charlie...

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Belly Up to Trenchermen Bar With Famed Actor George Wendt

(0) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 5:01 PM

Fame is a very funny thing. Some people become completely inaccessible and others remain totally unchanged. This was the feeling I had when famed actor George Wendt, best known for playing NORM! on Cheers and the ultimate Superfan on Saturday Night Live, and I bellied up to the bar at...

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Chicago's Top Chefs at the Screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey

(0) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 5:20 PM

"Food is memories," states characters Hassan, played by Manish Dayal, and Marguerite, played by Charlotte Le Bon, early in the new romantic foodie movie, The Hundred-Foot Journey. We all intrinsically know that food is memories - just think of your favorite childhood candy to let a rush of...

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Interview on the Red Carpet With Woody Allen

(1) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 3:13 PM

It is a rare occasion that director, screenwriter, actor, Academy Award winner, comedian, and musician Woody Allen appears in Chicago. On July 19th, in promotion of his new film, Magic In the Moonlight, Woody Allen did just that. He was in rare form, chatting on the red carpet...

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The Subtle Exuberance of Sepia Chef, Andrew Zimmerman

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 6:48 PM

In the back of Sepia Restaurant, tucked away in the kitchen, has to be one of the most levelheaded chefs in Chicago. There, amidst a bustling 11:30 am pre-lunch-hour crowd, James Beard Nominee for Best Chef: Great Lakes, Andrew Zimmerman, crafts what he dubs "globally-informed, contemporary American...

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Academy Award Winner Kevin Kline on the Chicago International Film Festival Summer Gala Red Carpet

(1) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 5:45 PM

It was a star-studded evening last Saturday night in Chicago as Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival - celebrating its 50th anniversary this year -honored actor Kevin Kline with a Career Achievement Award. The Chicago International Film Festival's Summer Gala is an important fundraising event for Cinema/Chicago,...

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Actor Morgan Freeman and Director Jon Turteltaub on the Gene Siskel Film Center Red Carpet

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 5:49 AM

The stars shown brightly on Saturday night as actor Morgan Freeman (Invictus, Million Dollar Baby, The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy) and director Jon Turteltaub (Last Vegas, National Treasure, The Sorcerer's Apprentice) walked the red carpet for the annual Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute...

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Chef Pete Coenen of The Gage

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 12:41 PM

In a city with so many award-winning restaurants and outstanding bar programs, there are still very few places where one can belly up to the bar and have great food. Restaurants have heightened their game, but bar food? Not so much. This is why I have been wanting to interview...

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Chicago Gears Up for the James Beard Awards

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2014 | 10:35 AM

It seems that something very special is cooking in Chicago. Literally.

A French friend visited me recently on her annual passage to see family in the Midwest and the East Coast. She said something I have felt for a while. "Chicago has even better restaurants than New York."

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Are Humane Farming Practices Entering Into the Public Conscience?

(5) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 12:01 PM

I asked Chef Jared Van Camp on the November 2012 Dinner Party if we would ever have food in grocery stores like the food that we have in restaurants: food from small farms with the emphasis on humane standards. Produce in stores has been organic for years, but...

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A Redmoon Night to Remember

(0) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 1:48 PM

In a city with so many theaters, so much music, so much incredible architecture and so many nationally recognized restaurants, it can be hard to stand out as an artistic organization. What will make you exceptional? Fancy cocktails are everywhere and after a while all arts organization fundraisers blur together,...

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The Chef's Chef: Carrie Nahabedian

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 11:57 PM

Carrie Nahabedian is a chef's chef. In the sometimes political culinary landscape, Chef Nahabedian is appreciated by all Chicago chefs, no matter what their focus, and her career has been long and illustrious to back up her popularity.

At a time when there were few, if no, female chefs...

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Travelle Brings Meaning to Elegant Mediterranean Cooking

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2014 | 1:09 PM

There are kitchens and then there are KITCHENS. The kitchen at Travelle restaurant in the Langham Hotel is a sight to behold, a true theater for the diners to experience as the chefs create their dishes down each side of the line that projects into the restaurant from...

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Valentine's Day Suggestions from 14 of Chicago's Most Creative

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2014 | 1:30 PM

1. "My Valentine Days have never been elaborate affairs. We never go out to dinner. Valentine's Day dinners at restaurants are where relationships go to suffer. Too crowded. Too much stress. There are three elements to my Valentine plans.

a. A homemade card. Always. Makes all...

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Chris Neville of Tributosaurus Opens Wire

(0) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 3:37 PM

"Inspiration is overrated. Passion is what gets you there, but work is what makes you great," said Chris Neville, lead singer and musical arranger of the cover band, Tributosaurus, on the most recent Fear No ART presents Dinner Party. He would know. No one works harder than Chris....

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Female Rapper Dessa on the Dinner Party

(0) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 5:00 PM

"Be excellent," stated DESSA, born Margaret Wander, unapologetically on the most recent Fear No ART presents the Dinner Party. "A lot of people are worried about getting their demos straight, before they get their chords down." For musicians or fans of her work, it was an interesting evening...

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The Charm and Finesse of Everest's Chef Joho

(1) Comments | Posted January 15, 2014 | 5:03 PM

I have been interviewing chefs on The Dinner Party for over two years, so it is about time that I interview a French one. Executive Chef Jean Joho of Michelin Star Everest Restaurant is interesting, a complex character who serves refined French food in a style he likes to call...

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The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Honors Our Literary Giants

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 4:03 PM

The 4th Annual Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony will take place on December 7th, 2013 at Ganz Hall with partnering Roosevelt University. I have been to the previous ceremonies and am always grateful that the CLHOF exists, pointing out and highlighting Chicago's rich and diverse literary history and...

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Sandra Bernhard Does 'Sandyland'

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 3:01 PM

It is said that well-behaved women don't change the world. Words to live by, and no one lives them better on stage than Sandra Bernhard. Uniquely poised in the performance art world, her art comes seemingly from being her full, uncensored self: a witty, smart, no holds barred,...

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