RSSRestaurant Scene By Eloise Marie Valadez

A look at various happenings, reviews, chef info and other food talk from the region and Chicagoland.

Restaurant Scene: Chocolate, chef battles and lobster fest

Time for new season of 'Check, Please!'

Catherine De Orio steps up to the table as the new host of "Check, Please!," and has her debut at 8 p.m. today on WTTW-Channel 11.

A Chicago area native, De Orio, is a food, travel and features writer, and has been a spokeswoman for national brands. The new host was one of 17 finalists to vie for the role. Also in the finalist mix earlier this year was Frank Brunacci, of Munster. Brunacci and his wife Lillian are the co-owners of The Chef's Diamond Company, a truffle importing business. He was also the former executive chef of Sixteen Restaurant at Chicago's Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and has worked in kitchens around the world.

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Restaurant Scene: Time for chorizo, chili, and anniversary celebrations

Bring on the chorizo creations

The El Popular-Ivy Tech Chorizo Contest will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Ivy Tech Community College's East Chicago campus, 410 E. Columbus Drive. Professional chefs will be among judges for the event. Winners will be announced at 7:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded in the amounts of $250, $150 and $75. Tickets to taste the chorizo creations are $2. Tickets can be purchased at the finance office. No tickets can be purchased at the door. For more information, call (219) 392-3600, ext. 245. - Eloise Marie Valadez

Autumn Fest Chili Contest

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Restaurant Scene: Locals to bring on the chili

Crown Point Oktoberfest

Mayor David Uran of Crown Point and Crown Brewing have announced the upcoming sixth annual Oktoberfest from 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday on South Main Street. Featured will be a Chili Cook-Off, various food for purchase, live entertainment, bean bag tournament and more. FYI: (219) 661-2271

Chili Cooks in Munster

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Restaurant Scene: Chicago Gourmet and chili contests on the menu

Chicago Gourmet, one of the year's top culinary events, moves into Millennium Park this weekend.

The event, presented by Bon Appetit and The Illinois Restaurant Association runs from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Chicago Gourmet 2013 will include a variety of culinary offerings and special activities. Food, wine, spirits and beer tastings as well as educational seminars, celebrity chef demos, book signings and more will be featured.

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Restaurant Scene: Sweet pies, game day specials and fall chili

Have a good pie recipe? The Downtown Hammond Council will have its Bizarre Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and once again the community is encouraged to enter the annual pie competition at the event.

Bizarre Bazaar will be held at Harrison Park, at Hohman Avenue and Waltham Street, in Hammond. In addition to the pie competition, there will be live entertainment, food, arts and crafts, kids games and art activities, pony rides, bean bag tournament and more.

Entry fee for the pie baking contest is $5 per pie (with a limit of two pies) if you register in advance or $10 per pie (limit two pies) if you register on the day of the event. Pie registration begins at 10 a.m. with judging from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Winners will be announced at 12:45 p.m. For more information, visit

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Restaurant Scene: Fall festivals, events feature classic cuisine

Celebrate Oktoberfest

Carlyn Berghoff, owner of The Berghoff restaurant, kicked off the legendary Chicago eatery's 28th annual  Oktoberfest celebration Wednesday at John C. Kluczynski Federal Plaza in Chicago.

The outdoor celebration continues through today with authentic German food offerings, beer, and live entertainment. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oktoberfest specials and other in-restaurant celebrations continue through Oct. 26 at The Berghoff.

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Restaurant Scene: Cheers to food festivals and Oktoberfest celebrations

New restaurant has ribbon cutting

BlackStone Woodfire Grill, 7311 Mallard Lane, Schererville, invited guests to a special ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. The restaurant specializes in wood fire grilling using a blend of oak, hickory and apple woods. Guests at the event sampled menu items and sipped wines in the eatery's Oak Room.  For more information on the restaurant, call (219) 769-0000.

Berghoff's Oktoberfest

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Restaurant Scene: Local restaurants star at Taste of Duneland

Rev up your appetite for this weekend's festivities.

The Taste of Duneland will be presented from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at Thomas Park, Calumet and Broadway, in downtown Chesterton.

Food from local restaurants and organizations will star as well as live entertainment, children's activities and more. Among eateries and organizations presenting food offerings are Lucrezia's, Wagner's Ribs, Leroy's Hot Stuff, Lemon Tree, Taj Curry House, El Salto's, Hot Diggity Dawg, L.U.L.A.C., El Cantarito, Popolano's, Chesterton Lion's Club, Sage, Ben's Soft Pretzel, Kernels and Kones and Noah's Popcorn.

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Restaurant Scene: Bistro offers cozy, lakeside dining

Restaurant Scene: Bistro offers cozy, lakeside dining

Entering 54 Main Bistro in Hobart is like visiting a welcoming neighbor's quaint home.

The eatery was established by husband-and-wife David and Linda Papp and their son Scot Hinkel six years ago on Main Street in Hobart.

"When we started, this area wasn't doing much (in the area) of the farm to fork movement," said Linda Papp.

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Restaurant Scene: Innovative food is name of The Game at Blue Chip

Restaurant Scene: Innovative food is name of The Game at Blue Chip

There are new flavors ready to be unveiled at The Game sports bar at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City.

The eatery's staff and chef this week introduced a new menu that's set to debut to the general public on Sept. 1. A collaboration between the casino's specialty chef Erik Keever and executive chef Patrick Higgins, the new menu features a variety of items in all categories from appetizers to desserts.

"We want to bring something unique to diners," said Chef Keever, who received a degree in culinary arts at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. Keever began working at the casino's buffet three years ago and stepped up to his position as specialty chef for The Game and It's Vegas Baby! at the casino last fall. He was previously assistant food and beverage manager at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton.

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