Chicago’s culinary and dining scene is second to none. A big reason why: the city’s innovative and industrious chefs, who have succeeded against the odds in a brutally competitive and high-pressure business. How do they blow off steam when they step away from the heat of the kitchen? To answer that burning question, WTTW Digital, in partnership with Story Buzz Media and Edible Chicago, brings you the new digital-first short-form series CHEFS OFF THE CLOCK, premiering on wttw.com/ChefsOffTheClock on Wednesday, June 27, with new installments rolling out weekly.
In 10 fast-moving three-to-five-minute webisodes, we get a glimpse of the quirky ways Chicago’s “celebrity” chefs unwind after they clock out of the kitchen. Not surprisingly, they play as hard as they work, whether their passion is scuba diving, hitting the baseball diamond, making high-quality wood and leather products, giving back on foreign adventures, creating colorful graffiti art, cycling, sailing, hiking and even taking up dance, Brazilian-style. Join us as we reveal another side of these celebrated chefs, as we hear from them in their natural milieu – their restaurant or kitchen – and then out in the field as they follow their respective passions. We also learn from them why it is so important to achieve a proper work/life balance…and how they have each found their own unique way to accomplish it. Featured subjects in the inaugural season of CHEFS OFF THE CLOCK include:
Chef Carrie Nahabedian
On the Clock: Naha, Brindille
Off the Clock: Adventure Traveler
Chef Carrie Nahabedian has visited 75 countries, principalities, and islands. She says journeys have helped her elevate her cooking. Often times she finds ways to give back to people in other countries through philanthropy and mentoring.
Chef Mychael Bonner
On the Clock: Petterino’s, Saranello’s, Di Pescara, Ivy Room
Off the Clock: Bicyclist
Five years ago Chef Mychael Bonner took up cycling to improve his physical health. What he didn’t realize was that biking would have a mental payoff. Mychael says he experiences calming moments when he focuses on getting to the next destination. Last summer he rode from Orland Park to Indianapolis…only stopping for hydration.
Chef Tony Priolo
On the Clock: Piccolo Sogno, Nonnina and Maillard Tavern
Off the Clock: Baseball Player
Growing up, Chef Tony Priolo had two passions: cooking and playing baseball. As chef and co-owner of three Chicago restaurants, Tony loves pleasing people with food while baseball feeds his soul. For the past twelve years, Tony has been playing with the Braves in the Midwest Suburban League.
Chef Carlos Gaytan
On the Clock: Mexique
Off the Clock: Scuba Diver
Born in Mexico, Chef Carlos Gaytan spent time on the Pacific coast where he learned to scuba dive at age 17. He grew up foraging for seaweed along the shore, lobster on reefs, and tiny regional shrimp. He is passionate about protecting the reefs for future generations.
Chef Won Kim
On the Clock: Kimski
Off the Clock: Graffiti Artist
Chef Won Kim’s childhood obsession with graffiti has become an even greater expression of art in different media. His artwork has been exhibited in galleries, decorates the walls in private businesses and even appears on the dinnerware at his hip Bridgeport counter service.
Chef Sarah Stegner
On the Clock: Prairie Grass Café
Off the Clock: Latin Dancer
When Chef Sarah Stegner turned 50, she decided she wanted to explore an activity that would challenge her and expand her world outside of the kitchen. Sarah decided on Latin dance, Bachata style, and immersed herself in the culture.
Chef Rick Gresh
On the Clock: AceBounce, Flight Club
Off the Clock: Woodworker and Leathercraft
It’s hard to picture Chef Rick Gresh at rest. When he’s not overseeing culinary operations at his restaurants, Rick somehow finds the time to express himself in handmade wood and leather products, which are sought after by many Chicago chefs.
Chef Zöe Schor
On the Clock: Split-Rail
Off the Clock: Sailor
Chef Zoë Schor finds peace near a body of water. In her rare spare time, she relishes her time there in her dad’s sailboat. She attended the summer sailing program at Belmont Harbor and finds being on Lake Michigan incredibly relaxing.
Chef Molly Svec
On the Clock: Spilt Milk
Off the Clock: Hiker
After serving as pastry chef at Chicago’s Blackbird and Hoosier Mama Pie Company and New York’s Bouchon, Molly Svec decided to pursue her lifelong dream of opening a bakery with her sister Meg. In 2016, Spilt Milk opened in Oak Park to rave reviews. As pastry chef/co-owner of this bustling business, Molly stays grounded by making the time to unwind in nature. One of her favorite activities is hiking through the forest and shoreline near her parents’ home in Three Oaks, Michigan.
August 29: TBD
In addition to the series, WTTW’s website for the series, at wttw.com/ChefsOffTheClock, will include recipes contributed by each of the chefs that audiences can try at home.
“CHEFS OFF THE CLOCK marks WTTW’s fifth digital-first series, and it’s our third that covers the food scene in Chicago,” said Anne Gleason of WTTW. “With this series, we’re showing a different side of the pressure-filled lives of chefs at the top of their games.”
CHEFS OFF THE CLOCK is a co-production of WTTW Digital, Story Buzz Media, and Edible Chicago. Director: Gail Grasso and Becky Liscum. Executive Producer: Anne Gleason. Co-Executive Producers: Becky Liscum and Gail Grasso. Producer: Becky Liscum and Gail Grasso. Camera/Sound: Becky Liscum, Gail Grasso, Chuck Floramo, John Kilpatrick and Kevin Van Egeren. Editing: Chuck Floramo, John Kilpatrick and Kevin Van Egeren. Graphics: Reed Marvine and Linda Fox. Creative consultant: Ann Flood. Additional footage: CSSG. Additional images: Daryl Duda.
About Story Buzz Media
Story Buzz Media is a digital and video production company that produces premium content for television and digital platforms. Co-owners Becky Liscum and Gail Grasso formed their company after the conclusion of The Oprah Winfrey Show, where they worked for a combined 28 years as senior field producers. In the past two years, Story Buzz Media has been awarded six Telly awards for their work with Disney Interactive and Lurie Children’s Hospital.
About Edible Chicago
Edible Chicago is a member of the James Beard Award-winning network of national print magazines. Published quarterly in both print and digital format, Edible Chicago’s mission is to showcase local, sustainable food and drink stories, and is in its tenth year of publication. Ann Flood is co-founder, publisher, and editorial director; her career spans 30 years in marketing, corporate sales in the food and technology industries, small business consulting, and IT project management. She was recently honored by NewCityResto as one of Chicago’s Food and Drink Fifty for outstanding contribution to the city’s food culture.
WTTW is the PBS member station in Chicago, committed to creating and presenting unique media content across distinct television and digital channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, WTTW Create/WTTW World, WTTW PBS Kids 24/7, wttw.com and the PBS/WTTW video app. Recognized for award-winning journalism and local productions such as Chicago Tonight, Chicago River Tour, Check, Please!, digital-first series Urban Nature and Foodphiles and national productions 10 That Changed America, Soundstage, and Nature Cat, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s public media content. Connect with WTTW on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.