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two brothers

chicago cheap ass (15)
Events, Food,

My #FoodieChats Experiences

By a strange turn of events, about a month ago, I found myself taking the Metra from Chicago to Aurora. About a year ago, this wouldn’t have been so weird… I used to commute from Elburn to Chicago and vice-versa when I first started working at Groupon. But now that I’ve secured a residence in a neighborhood bordering the city of Chicago, I find myself making the trek less and less. It takes something special, like my family, or an awesome opportunity, to inspire a train ride back to the suburbs after putting in a full day at Social Media Beast.

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A live #Foodiechats experience ranks amongst one of those awesome opportunities that you just can’t say no to. One of my clients at Social Media Beast is Phil Stefani Restaurant Group. When we first started working with them, they had a very talented social media intern named Taylor. We worked with her to take their social media game to the next level. Nowadays, Taylor has graduated and moved on to starting hew own integrated marketing company, Deck Media. I’m excited to see where she takes it!

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Anyways, as a member of the Chicago foodie community after being so involved with Stefani Restaurants, Taylor followed many influencers in the industry, including Steve Green, founder of #Foodiechats. For those not in the know, #Foodiechats is a weekly Twitter Chat (soon to be an app!) that happens Mondays at 7pm CST. For those who don’t understand the concept of Twitter Chats, check out the article I wrote for my company blog. Anyways, the topic always centers around food, and usually is sponsored by a company related to the industry or a restaurant. Taylor saw that Steve Green was looking for local foodies to take part in the latest live event, made her interest known and invited me along for the ride.

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On this particular occasion, the sponsoring entity was Two Brothers Brewing. Although I love their beer (Sidekick all the way), I’d never been to the Roundhouse – even though it’s practically in my backyard! Once I got off the train, I walked straight in – passing various bars, a coffee shop, and a beautiful courtyard. Apparently it’s the type of venue that a lot of people get married – a choice I completely understand.

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Steve Green was a gracious host and made sure everyone was properly introduced and facilitated conversation, while simultaneously capturing photos and tweeting out to his loyal following. See that’s the thing about a #Foodiechats live event… you have to be a master of talking to your fellow foodies and tweeting to contribute to #Foodiechats at the same time. At one point, the owner jokingly said “Get off your phones!” It took me a minute to realize he wasn’t serious.

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In this particular #Foodiechats event, Two Brothers was promoting a summer food festival (which unfortunately for you is now over). The food was absolutely incredible – a gourmet take on American comfort food favorites. And the BEER! Can you imagine having unlimited access to all that Two Brothers has to offer? It was a dream. In fact, I had the opportunity to grab a six pack of their new Wobble IPA beer. My boyfriend, a home brewer, is writing up a review that will be on the blog in the near future! Stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

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Unfortunately I had to skip out before the event was completely over to catch the train. But little did I know, this wouldn’t be the last of my #Foodiechats experiences.

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Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Steve reached out to me right before the Fourth of July weekend about an event happening after everyone returned to work. This event was at Frontier and was sponsored by the Better Burger Project. The Better Burger Project is a contest from the James Beard Foundation, which tasks chefs from all across the United States to create a gourmet burger. Here’s the catch – the Burger has to be composed of 25% mushrooms! Now I’ll be completely honest with you… I’m not a huge mushroom fan. But, I am a trooper. I tried the burger and it was damn good. The fact that the burger didn’t focus on the mushrooms, but merely incorporated them, was what made it a good situation.

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I also ate my first oyster. Probably also my last oyster. But I put myself out there in the name of food adventures!

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I was a little more comfortable and familiar with what to expect at this event. I met some pretty incredible people who I hope to see again soon. I’m grateful to have had these experiences as I grow my Chicago blogging empire and continue to explore the food scene!

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Connections are Everything

Connections are everything, and that was pretty characteristic of the awesome things that happened this week. Always put your best foot forward when meeting new people (and maintaining old friendships) – you never know where they could lead!

6/8 – Farmer’s Fridge, Quirky and #Foodiechats

Farmer’s Fridge is very close to my heart after being a part of it’s early months. I wrote a post about Salads in the Loop a few weeks back and am doing a giveaway featuring one of their salads! Anyways, this week, Farmer’s Fridge opened a new salad vending machine in a 7-Eleven location in River North. They were doing specials everyday ranging from free salads or 25-50% off. I got there for one of the free ones! Always a nice surprise. Make sure you’re following their social channels or subscribe to their newsletters – they tend to do things like this with the launch of new locations, which is happening fast.

An interesting thing happened when browsing a big Quirky sale. Quirky is an up-and-coming company that sells products everyday people invented. They have a lot of promotions and the products are a great value. Something weird happened and my order totaled $15, when it should’ve been 3x that amount. I reached out to the company and they said I got lucky and they’d honor the sale! The order was inspired byย a cool beach tote with a mesh bottom to shake out sand.

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The highlight of my day, however, involved a trip out to the suburbs. I was invited to participate in a #Foodiechats experience. For those who don’t know about #Foodiechats, it’s a weekly Twitter chat connecting foodies around the world (and it’s about to become something even bigger). This event was at the Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, conveniently next to the train I took in. We sampled food from their upcoming Summer Festival and a healthy plethora of Two Brothers Beers. I won’t go into too much detail here because I plan on writing a follow up post, but it was a night to remember! Lots of thanks to my friend Taylor who got me in on this event!

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6/9 – Xoco and Lentil Marinara

Today I made my second ever trip to Xoco. It’s one of the office favorites, and a Rick Bayless restaurant creation. I met with a friend who helped me move to buy him lunch. We discussed this blog and he will be helping out with a section about networking and speaking events! I think it’s something this blog is missing, as it is aimed at young professionals in Chicago.

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For dinner, I made my favorite creation – a lentil marinara “pasta” with zucchini noodles. It’s one of the “cheapest” things I make, but also one of the most flavorful and healthy. I’ll write up a recipe and take some pictures for you guys next time I make it! ๐Ÿ™‚

6/10 – Influenster and Sox Box

I recently joined an online community calledย Influenster. As I am constantly trying to build up my online communities, it only made sense to cash in on it in some way. Basically, Influenster gives me the opportunity to try new products for free in exchange for using and talking about them. So there will likely be an upcoming blog post about what I found out I’m getting from them first. It’s a PUR sink attachment to purify water. I bring a Brita water bottle with me everywhere I go… this will make it even easier for me to use clean, purified water when I cook!

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The Blackhawks played tonight (and won!), but I was invited to a Sox game with my company and some of our clients. It was my first time in a box, and I felt like a celebrity. All-you-can-eat food (hot dogs!), beer, and the most delicious dessert cart to pick things from. And you can’t beat the view. Thanks to whatever clients couldn’t make it – I had fun in your absence!

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6/11 – Devil Dawgs and Techweek

Probably knowing how hungover we’d all be after the Sox game, we had our monthly lunch, featuring the culinary wonders of Devil Dawgs. Besides crazy hot dog creations, they have some amazing sliders (the Elvis with peanut butter and bacon is to die for) and chicken sandwiches. I haven’t tried their milkshakes yet but want to. Through a mistake on our end, or theirs (I’m not sure), I didn’t get my slider this time ๐Ÿ™ But I’ll be dreaming about it.4

I found out today that I got a free media pass to Techweek Chicago. I went last year and had an amazing time meeting tech industry professionals and listening to experts I really respect speak about things that matter. Do you write for a company blog? Freelance or have your own blog? You might be eligible for for free media passes – not just for this event, but many others in Chicago. Concerts, speaking events and more usually give out free media passes depending on the industry you write for. It’s worth looking into! They also have free attendee badges available for specific events if you want a taste of Techweek without paying for a full badge.

6/12 – Activate and Chicago Blog Week

Activate has some sweet deals!

Activate has some sweet deals!

So Zipcar, my weekend Brand Ambassador job, has a partnership with Activate. Activate throws parties in alleys in the Loop and brings together tons of artists and music – it’s a great time. We’re doing an instant photo booth and get to meet a lot of attendees. By some crazy turn of events, I found myself face to face with Dante, the founder of Chicago Blog Week. To make a long story short, I may be a speaker at the event! More details on that as they unfold. We plan on meeting later this week ๐Ÿ™‚

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6/13 – Mae Concert

The first concert I ever saw was Mae and The Audition, in a church in Wheaton. It’s crazy how far I’ve come since that day, but Mae (and The Audition, really) holds a special place in my heart. So I bought tickets months in advance from someone who couldn’t make the show. Didn’t have to pay any of the extra fees – score! I went to the Bottom Lounge and sang my heart out to all my old favorite songs. It was a special tour, focusing on my favorite CD of theirs.

6/14 – Aroma Workshop

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I bought a Groupon a couple months back after hearing how awesome Aroma Workshop is. I took my boyfriend with so we could each create our own signature scents. We smelled a lot of different scent bases – from fruity to musky and everything in between. One of Aroma Workshop’s employees expertly combined 4 different possibilities to choose from. We each left with the perfect signature scent to suit our tastes – so much more personal than a store-bought cologne or perfume. If you buy the Groupon, it works out to be about $30 per person. Aroma Workshop also carries a variety of bath products that you can combine with your scent. They keep your combinations in their computer system so you can refill in the future!

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Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.