The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party is an event that brings together a talk show with a dinner at City Winery in the Fulton Market neighborhood. Hosted by Executive Producer Elysabeth Alfano, the Dinner Party, presented by Fear No ART, is a monthly show that streams live on Chicago Sun-Times' Splash website. It invites three celebrities of various media up on stage as the audience enjoys dinner from a local chef. I attended the most recent Dinner Party, and the event made for an unexpected and unique format of both a dinner and a party.

The next Dinner Party is December 1 and tickets are available here.

With the motto, "The best conversations happen over dinner," the evening began at long tables with live music - The Cecy Santana Band was the opening act, delivering the sultriest of classic Brazilian sounds in their set (below). The City Winery space is large and open, and you can see barrels stacked in the back. For the next event, on December 1st, jazz singer Typhanie Monique will open.


The dinner has lots of sponsors, including Lagunitas, meaning ... complimentary beer! It actually was perfect for the starter of chicken liver mousse with cranberry aigre doux from Chef Paul Virant of two Chicago area restaurants: Vie and Perennial Virant. I normally don't like funky meat parts, but this dish was so buttery and perfectly paired with the tartness.


After the live music, featured guests Ashley Wheater, Joffrey Ballet; football star/singer Sami Grisafe; Chef Paul Virant; and film director Joe Swanberg took the stage, complete with a table and many options of adult beverages for them lined up, too! Guests are usually artists, and sometimes entrepreneurs or inventors, too. It can always be interesting to bring together an eclectic mix of people for a Dinner Party.


So during the Dinner Party, audience members were dining and watching Alfano and her guests converse on stage. But interestingly the audience could still participate in the conversation! By tweeting questions for the panelists, the audience gets a chance to contribute. If a person's question is chosen, they also win a prize of theater tickets, books, or the like. 

I didn't expect the event to include a full meal, but it was that and more. We had multiple desserts, including succulent Vosges Haut caramels.

The next Dinner Party is December 1 at City Winery, featuring Chef Chris Pandel of The Bristol & Balena, who will be cooking up the dinner. Guests will be New York Times best-selling author Rebecca Skloot, actor/improvisor/comedian David Pasquesi, and theater critic Chris Jones.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. The show will be streaming live at 7:30 p.m. Click here to watch previous installments of The Dinner Party.

To purchase tickets, visit the Dinner Party website. It's always one heck of a party!