Andy White Carrie Nahabedian

Fear No Art presents The Dinner Party

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 Jen Pontrelli

Have you ever walked through a gallery and wondered what possessed the designer to create such an odd chair or table?  Or maybe you've watched an improv comedy show and wondered what exactly runs through the mind of those zany comedic geniuses?  Maybe still, you've seen a play and thought about the mastery of the set design or off-beat configuration of the stage.  At Fear No Art's monthly extravaganza, The Dinner Party, host Elysabeth Alfano attempts to get to the core of the various "visions" of Chicago's brightest and most innovative celebrities by inviting them to dinner in front of a live audience.  Held at West Loop's Chicago City Winery, the wine and assorted intellect flow freely at The Dinner Party making the conversation that ensues all the right kinds of irreverent, honest, entertaining and utterly thought-provoking. 

Dinner Party 2/17: (L-R) Jordan Moser, Susan Messing, Tim Graham, Andy White, and Elysabeth Alfano.
February's installment of The Dinner Party was certainly no exception to Alfano's rule that the event be equal parts intellectually vibrant and utterly delicious.  Following an opening act by local singer Anna Fermin, the vivacious personality clad in a stunning scarlet dress played host to
Lookingglass Artistic Director Andy White, Comedienne Susan Messing, International Designer Jordan Mozer, and Chef Tim Graham of Travelle.  Graham doubled as dinner guest and chef, taking over City Winery's kitchen for the night to serve an exquisite meal of Cumin Beet Salad and Piri-Piri Chicken to everyone in attendance.   

Alfano initially breaks the ice after introductions by asking a few questions of the guests about their work and inspiration, but the wine soon takes over and the conversation takes off, often building on wildly entertaining tangents.  In between bits of conversation, the audience is also treated to performances and showcases of the Dinner Party guests' works.  At the February show, Messing and her improv partner Rachael Mason, put on a sidesplitting skit using suggestions from the audience (a jilted lover working her shift at Portillo's) and members of White's Lookingglass company performed a sweet little skit about finding love in Chicago.  Although the dinner party appears to take place on the stage, the whole room, and even those watching the live stream on "Splash" section of the Sun Times website are invited to take part in the conversation by tweeting to Alfano during the show.  Some lucky tweeters who get their questions and comments addressed on stage also receive a prize from one of the night's sponsors.  
Host Elysabeth Alfano shows off a Vosges Chocolate prize for a Twitter participant.

If you find yourself in need of some good dinner companions, Alfano's Dinner Party is definitely a must see!  This month's stunning line-up is definitely a can't miss for foodies and lovers of literature.  On March 31st, host Elysabeth Alfano will be dining with Chicago's very own Uber-Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless, author Sara Paretsky, New Yorker cartoonist Pat Byrnes.  Chef Carrie Nahabedian of Naha and Brindille (one of only ten female chefs in the U.S. to hold a prestigious Michelin star) will be taking over in City Winery's kitchen for what we're sure will be a meal of epic delectability.  At $45, tickets for this event are a steal!  Check out the link below for more details on future dinner parties and to pick up some tickets.  Prepare to eat, drink, and be merry at Fear No Art's The Dinner Party!

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