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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

Grant Achatz: The Search for the Impossible

(2) Comments | Posted April 22, 2015 | 5:01 PM

In his search for the impossible in the restaurant world, Chef Grant Achatz continually draws international attention to the Chicago culinary scene. His restaurant, Alinea, currently ranked 9th in the world on the 2014 list of the 50 Best Restaurants, has made even the most cynical on the...

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Chef Homaro Cantu: Creative Genius and Giver of Gifts

(1) Comments | Posted April 16, 2015 | 2:11 PM

Chef Homaro (Omar) Cantu said yes to everything. He was a believer in possibilities, in people, in change. An inventor, a creative genius and a leader in molecular gastronomy, as well as a Michelin-starred chef, Cantu believed that one person with one idea could change the world, and he moved...

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Egypt: There Is No Time Like the Present

(14) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 4:10 PM

This past October, amidst fear-based cries from all sides as to why I shouldn't, I left for Egypt for 10 days with one of my favorite travel partners. The itinerary was just what you would expect: Cairo and the Pyramids, a trip down the Nile, Luxor and its environs; a...

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Acadia's Special Chef, Ryan McCaskey

(0) Comments | Posted March 31, 2015 | 1:34 PM

Memory is a strange thing. And food memory, one's remembrance of not just the first time they tasted something, but the exact taste for the first time, is even stranger.

"As a kid, I didn't eat a lot of fresh vegetables or have exposure to them until I tried...

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Chicago's Most Jovial Chef: Guillermo Tellez of Tippling Hall

(1) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 11:26 AM

I don't meet very many jovial chefs any more. I meet driven chefs, chefs that know the bottom line and how to meet the physical and mental demands of the restaurant business. They churn out beautiful and tasty dishes, don't get me wrong, but the restaurant business has changed and...

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What Makes an Institution? Restauranteurs Keene and Megan Addington Discuss Some of Chicago's Greatest

(0) Comments | Posted January 30, 2015 | 9:20 AM

Elaine's in New York. La Coupole in Paris. The Pump Room in Chicago. What does it take to be an institution? In business school, I was taught that you never move forward with the business that you want. You move forward with the business for which there is demand.

...
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Hollywood Director, Cathryn Michon, Discusses Her New Movie, "Muffin Top: A Love Story"

(0) Comments | Posted January 20, 2015 | 11:23 AM

I learned some interesting factoids recently. Only 4% of Hollywood films are directed by women, but women buy 52% of the movie tickets. Hmmm. It seems that there are few females who crew on film sets and that only 15% of the major speaking roles in films are enacted by...

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William H. Macy Talks About the New Season of Shameless

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2015 | 11:07 AM

I sat down with actor William H. Macy recently while he was in Chicago filming the last bits of Season Five of Shameless for Showtime. Executive chef of Sable Kitchen and Bar, Heather Terhune, joined us for our mini dinner party as we dished on the new season of Shameless,...

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Chef Kevin Hickey Gives Bridgeport Some Foodie Love with The Duck Inn

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 4:48 PM

I have been watching the career of Chef Kevin Hickey for a while. At first I was surprised when I learned that he was leaving The Four Seasons hotel restaurant, The Allium, to start the low-key, belly-up-to-the bar joint, Bottlefork. Then I visited Bottlefork--packed to the gills on a week...

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Some of Chicago's Top Chefs Share Their Favorite Gifts to Give

(0) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 2:09 PM

Stuck on what to give this Holiday Season? Twenty-one of Chicago's top chefs share their best gift ideas!

1. "My favorite book to get any and all cooks for Christmas is the Le Répertoire de la Cuisine, an absolutely essential book for anyone's library." - Tim Graham, Executive Chef,...

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The Bristol's Strength: The Chef Chris Pandel Difference

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 1:39 PM

Filming in Chris Pandel's kitchen at The Bristol for the upcoming Dinner Party was just plain fun. Relaxed and unassuming, Pandel just might be one of the best chefs in Chicago.

Like the majority of our city's top chefs, Pandel believes in utilizing small farms. As he notes, "You...

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Actor John Mahoney Hosts the Auditorium Theatre's 125th Gala Celebration

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2014 | 10:39 AM

We are our history, are we not?

On December 9, the Auditorium Theatre celebrates its 125th Anniversary with a gala dinner and star-studded performance, hosted by actor, John Mahoney. Looking back, what kind of city would Chicago be if it didn't have the Auditorium Theatre?...

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Chefs Kornick, Izard, Gand and Restaurateurs Levy and Stefani Inducted Into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame

(0) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 10:38 AM

On October 16, chefs Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat and Little Goat (Chef of the Year), Gale Gand of Spritz Burger (Pastry Chef of the Year), Michael Kornick of MK, Ada Street and DMK Burger Bar among others (Legendary Chef), and restaurateurs Phil Stefani...

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Michelin Star Chef Paul Virant: A Preserves Pro!

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2014 | 11:11 AM

As I interview chefs each month for The Dinner Party, it is so fun to see how completely varied their personalities and techniques are. While filming at Vie Restaurant, I have never seen a chef so dedicated to making everything in-house as Michelin-starred Chef, Paul Virant of Vie,...

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Behind the Scenes With Singer-Songwriter, Macy Gray

(0) Comments | Posted October 6, 2014 | 6:30 PM

When I sat down with singer-songwriter Macy Gray in the private Barrel Room of City Winery just before her performance there, I was reminded of what it means to be a one-of-a-kind.

From the moment she walked in the room, even before she spoke with her unique...

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The Chicago International Film Festival Celebrates 50 Years

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 9:31 AM

The Chicago International Film Festival celebrates its 50th year this October 9 - 23. Recognized as the first international film festival in North American, the Chicago International Film Festival is a pioneer in focusing on international films. Founding Director and creator of the iconic film festival 'eyes' logo,...

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Tea and Conversation with Smashing Pumpkins Frontman, Billy Corgan

(10) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 3:23 PM

I had been wanting to sit down with Billy Corgan on The Dinner Party To Go Podcast for a while. There has been so much written about him and, as a fellow Chicagoan, his reputation locally - for better or worse - is larger than life. I prepared...

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Chef Jeff Mauro and Singer Phillip Phillips at the Food Network in Concert

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 8:47 AM

Gearing up for Tuesday night's Dinner Party, I headed to the Food Network in Concert at Ravinia last Saturday. In a very fun and off-the-cuff interview, I met with funny man, Jeff Mauro, host of "The Sandwich King" and "The Kitchen," and Phillip Phillips...

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Chef Bruce Sherman of North Pond Restaurant: The Real Deal

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 1:32 PM

Long before food was a fad and long before farm-to-table was something one said to impress one's date, North Pond Restaurant was creating dishes that aimed less to impress and more to satisfy by focusing on the natural goodness of local produce.

Originally opening as North Pond...

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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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