Spike Mendelsohn introduces the Flipp app and a new recipe

I walked into the Good Stuff Eatery at 22 South Wabash Ave just a few blocks from Millennium Park. I was extremely interested in visiting since the thought of delicious burgers and hand-spun shakes was my chosen favorite food since childhood. The Chicago location of the Good Stuff Eatery opened in 2015 after winning the Chicago Gourmet’s 2014 Hamburger Hop. The Prez burger (President Obama) won the Judge’s Choice Award. The pilot store of Good Stuff Eatery opened on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in July 2008. This was a family operation owned by the Mendelsohn family with the son, Spike Mendelsohn, at the helm.

Spike is better known, to many, as a celebrity chef. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Spike worked with some of the world’s most renowned chefs and eventually made his television debut on Bravo TV’s Top Chef. Spike went on to appear on several other cooking-related shows, including Life After Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Late Night Chef Fight and Beat Bobby Flay. He also hosted Midnight Feastand Food Network’s Kitchen Sink.

The Good Stuff in Washington became a favorite of President Barack Obama’s which inspired Spike to write a cookbook called The Good Stuff cookbook. Following the opening of the Good Stuff Eatery, Spike opened up We, The Pizza, Béarnaise and Santa Rosa Taqueria.

Today, Spike talks about shopping tips and tricks for the Fourth of July and some of the unique resources available when finding the best prices. That includes the free Flipp app for IOS and Android. You can search weekly ads, coupons and navigate through your favorite stores. The app allows you to check out specific foods or browse a variety of retailers. Once you download the app and add your location, Flipp will locate the stores in your area and you can click on your favorite store to explore its best deals. You can tap a retailer, check out the coupons and load them to your loyalty cards. There are thousands of retailers available including Kroger, Walmart, Big Lots, CVS Pharmacy, Aldi’s, Family Dollar, Home Depot, Loews and Dicks Sporting Goods to name a few.

Spike is truly passionate in giving back to the community; something he was taught at an early age. He has a genuine desire for providing food equity and help others purchase healthy food while saving time and money. Flipp offers shoppers a way to plan and budget for groceries but still choose quality instead of just running into your favorite store at the end of day and choosing items on sale. Spike commented on a Flipp feature where you type milk or peanut butter into the program and a variety of milk options will be displayed such as almond milk or organic peanut butter that demonstrates the Flipp app is focused on quality as well as excellent prices.

Spike came to Chicago because of his sister going to school here when opening the Good Stuff Eatery downtown. He loves to travel and is the first chairman of the Washington DC Food Policy Council where he continually helps to improve school lunches and speaks out in groups that encourage healthy eating.

I enjoyed the Prez burger that was made with apple-wood bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese, and horseradish mayo. The Chocoholic Shake was, by far, the best. The next time I would like to try the Compass Coffee Shake since coffee is another drink I cannot live without. For the holiday, Spike shared a special recipe below for Mahalo sliders that you can make at home. Consequently, I am planning my own July 4th menu which will include homemade Mahalo burgers with barbecue sauce and pineapple,cucumber slaw. And it has never been so easy and cost effective. My new Flipp app will even tell me when store sales will be ending so I know exactly when I should plan my shopping time.

Mahalo Sliders
– 4 pounds Ground Beef of your choice, leaner the better for sliders, less shrinking
– 1 teaspoon of cayenne
– 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
– 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
– salt/pepper to taste
– 1 tbl olive oil
– cheddar cheese slices for melting

* use a large bowl and add all of your ground meat and break it up, add all seasonings, parsley flakes, oil and mix around aggressively. Using a small scale patty up 2 oz burgers and place on a sheet tray. Season with salt and pepper.

Hawaii roles 2- 12 pcks or enough for everyone to have at least two sliders.
– using butter spray, spray your buns before grilling.

Pineapple Cucumber Slaw
– 2 cups pineapple, small dice
– 2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
– 1 medium cucumber, peeled and small diced
– 1/4 cup red onion, small diced
-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
– 2 tablespoon lime juice
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– salt and pepper to taste

*In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside

Bbq Sauce
– 2 cups bbq sauce
– 1 tbl of chipotle in can
– 2 tbl of Apple Cider Vinegar
– 1 tbl Molasses

*Add all of these ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously, season with salt and pepper…

Assembly
– Make sure to grill the burger only for a minute on each side. Melt cheddar cheese
– toast Hawaiian rolls
– add burgers
– add slaw
– add bbq sauce.

My Dad, Happy Fathers Day

When I looked up the definition of father, I was amazed at how many categorized fathers we have today. From the weekend/holiday fathersurprised father, stepfathersecond father to just mothers partner or husband; all of which define “the Dad”.  And, believe it or not, there is the DI Dad who is the social/legal father of children produced via donor insemination.

Father is also considered a founder of a body of knowledge or institution like George Washington; the Father of Our Country. And now I can understand why fathers are seen as authority figures and are suppose to possess experience and knowledge in life to pass onto others. That is what being a father is about; the active father who speaks of wisdom and guidance.

My father passed away when I was twelve and Fathers Day was not a Hallmark occasion that was at the top of my list. He was several years older than my Mom and always wanted a little girl. My mother never re-married and someone said that a father is a girl’s first love. Only he could push me on my new swing set at our home in Chicago.

With time, I realized my father, John, was gone and could not be replaced though I would always be grateful for the strong memories of his love for me. Some didn’t have any example in their lives. And as the years passed, I figured out that I could have as many fathers as I wanted; a trusted male friend who nurtures and helps you live a more fulfilling life.

They can be a neighbor that offers support when you struggle, comfort when you are down and their snow blower when there is a foot of snow in your driveway. They can be a manager who reminds you that you are truly worth it regardless of your awkward stumbles at work. They can be a co-worker that offers you a smile, something to laugh at, thumbs up and a cup of coffee when you are having a bad day.

They can be a brother who offers unconditional love and commitment regardless of how you frustrate him. They can be any relative who is protective, concerned and sees your success rather than incompetence. They can be your best friend’s father who spent hours tutoring you in math and building your self-esteem in a subject you never thought possible.

They can be the salesman or contractor that is really looking out for your safety and best interests. They can be your postman who always makes sure your mail is delivered on time and doesn’t rush off without saying hello. They can be teachers and role models to all children of any age and family.

Most of all, they can be the one above…you may not be able to see, but truly loves you.

(Re-posted-originally published June 17, 2018)

Kids on wheels can thank a Chicago entrepreneur

By Caryl Clem:

Chicago hosted the World’s Fair in 1933 where businessmen showcased their products hoping for worldwide approval. A young Italian immigrant had first designed a wagon in 1917 named Liberty Coaster to honor his first impression of landing in New York. He came to Chicago hoping to own his own business, working his way up in the world by various jobs that including washing celery to sell.  By the 1930’s in Elmwood, his manufacturing firm was expanding producing his renamed wagon, The Radio Flyer.

Antonio bravely risked most of his money to grow his business as he made plans for the Chicago World’s Fair. He and another immigrant friend constructed a giant boy and his wagon for his exhibit. Antonio Pasin passed out toy wagons for 25 cents each to future customers interested in his product.  After this business venture, he became famous and firmly established his company’s image to be part of every child’s future.

Through the decades, this wagon worked its way into parents and kids worlds mixing fantasy and reality. Radio Flyers had featured specials from Disney star specials to the 1950’s model I used, “Town and Country.” I delivered papers, transported flower pots and found countless uses for my wagon. I even trained my dog to take rides as I pulled the wagon.  Antonio had a flair for appealing to his customer base by clever advertising. I recall a slogan in the 1950’s , “The only wagon to outsell the Ford station wagon”.The product line kept evolving adding scooters, tricycles, and plastic replaces metal by 1994.

The current CEO is a grandson of the Pasin founder who turned a sagging business in the late 1990’s into a powerhouse that still rocks with success selling in the 100 million dollar range.  Robert Pasin enacted product development as the main focus, researching how the product was used by the consumer. In 2011, a Play Lab with a test tract was installed in the Chicago main office. “Radio Flyer offers nice perks: flex time, parties for employees and their families, a wellness reimbursement program, an exercise room, and a garden with a walking path at Chicago headquarters.

Last year, Crain’s Business Chicago ranked the company the seventh-best place to work in the city, calling out its employee incentives and philanthropic efforts. Radio Flyer donates thousands of wagons to local and national charities.

I don’t think you can outgrow the love of a wagon ride so as Spring Days are rapidly approaching, it is time to get your Radio Flyer Wagons out of hibernation.

Home for the holidays

By CARYL CLEM:

Festive holiday surround sound

Familiar refrains, bells and chimes

Baby, its cold outside, travel back to past times

Looking forward to being snowbound

Visiting with friends and family, staying warm.

Masterpiece art forms, radiant ornaments

Reflecting light and past traditions

Packages waiting for childlike astonishment

Glistening stars and snow, sparkling companions

Adorn the skies, trees, translucent accents.

Dine and enjoy once a year treats

Symbols of heritage and past sweets

Made with love and secret ingredients

While baking, unforgettable scents

Blend treasured old memories with new ones

Tell stories that tickle everyone’s funny bones.

Rejoice in the love that is shared

Stand united promoting everyone’s welfare.

Hold on to the holiday cheer through the New Year.