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In the spirit of G&F fun—and you know how much we love fun!—we’re hitting up some outdoor activities and exploring new things around the city in the first annual G&F! Summer! Playlist! Series! G&F’s D. Graham Kostic and Candis Hickman are going to head to head in some sprightly challenges, from an old-fashioned pie eating competition to al fresco wine tasting—and, it may sound cliché, but a little of everything in between, too.

Watch our #GFPlaylist videos below. Get inspired! Get up! Get out! And do something all in the name of fun for summer’s last stand. >>


It’s no secret that pie is a summer staple, but Bang Bang Pie is serving scrumptious slices all year round. Owner Michael Ciapciak of Logan Square’s Bang Bang Pie + Biscuits plays judge in G&F’s first ever pie eating contest–on your mark, get set, key lime! If pie isn’t enough to get you in, Bang Bang Pie is also baking up a storm of biscuits and other Midwestern delights at their Logan Square Cafe. Michael gives us the low down on that pastry crust and his ultimate Sunday in Logan Square.

Is there a secret to your pie making? A family recipe handed down?
No real secret to speak of. The Smoking Goose Leaf Lard we use for our house pastry crust is pretty amazing. All of our crusts are made from scratch even down to the graham crackers for the crust. Our pastry chef, Carrie Rubinas is so talented and has a great team to support her as well.

Logan Square has plenty to offer for a fun afternoon. Can you walk us through a perfect day in your neighborhood?
[My family and I] would walk to Reno for Bagel sandwiches (The Hook is my current must-have while my wife digs The Hammer) before heading to Logan Market. We would stock up on summer veggies and either Publican Quality Meats or Jake’s Country Meats for grilling later. I’ll call Cellar Door Provisions to place a loaf of their bread on hold—it’s a must when cooking at home. We would then make an afternoon stroll to Gas Light for an iced coffee before relaxing in Palmer Square Park.

Bang Bang Pie + Biscuits, 2051 N. California Avenue,

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Sami Grisafe is unlike any triple-threat we’ve ever met! The all-star quarterback for the Chicago Force is challenging us to get down and dirty on the field. We suit up at Frazier Field in Evanston where Sami runs a few drills that surprisingly we aren’t too bad at. Sami isn’t only making touchdowns on the field. After attending the Chicago School of Performing arts at Roosevelt University on an acting scholarship, she began pursuing a music career as a singer-songwriter. She even sang The Star Spangled banner at the request of Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn, for the marriage equality bill signing. With a packed schedule, we had to know how she spends her summertime downtime:

A bike ride on the lakefront in the morning. Play some music on the water at Tobey Prinz Beach in Roger’s Park. Then lunch at Milt’s BBQ. Everything there is delicious, but I go with the buffalo chicken salad. Catch a show at City Winery. Grab a late dinner at Tango Sur—I always order the churrasco. I would end the night at Lonie Walker’s Underground Wonder Bar on Clark Street, because there is music 365 and it always rocks!

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Mixologists Mia and Carrie of The W Lakeshore are teaching us how to shake up some killer cocktails for this next challenge and may the best swizzle stick win! Get high on the 7th floor deck of the newly renovated W Lakeshore. If you’re not buzzing off of the glittering shores of Lake Michigan then leave it to Mia and Carrie to get you feeling lush with crafted cocktails. These drinks are kept sumptuous with ingredients that are unique, current and—our favorite—fun! So what are they drinking this summer?

The Derby. Gently muddle mint then add St. Germain, Knob Creek Whiskey and lime juice, add ice and shake. The mint and lime makes it really refreshing, the St. Germain add some sweetness and the Knob Creek…because life is better with whiskey!

W Lakeshore, 644 N. Lake Shore Drive,

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Spinning brings a lot of things to mind, from torturous workout classes to our favorite dj’s dance-inducing tunes, but Seth Bankier is bringing a trendier (and tastier!) type of spinning to Chicago: cotton candy!

After an unfulfilled craving of the sweet treat, Seth took a new spin on an old favorite. Spin-Spun features gourmet flavors of our favorite carnival snack ranging from Salted Caramel to Tabasco Watermelon to Vanilla Butter Cake. Seth creates each creation preservative-free with zero artificial colors or flavors and using only 100% organic sugar. So when the King of sweets isn’t snacking on his own wispy creations, where can you find him?

“Anything Sweet Mandy B’s—what’s not to love?” says Seth. “I am always up for a Potbelly’s Chocolate smoothie, Frost Gelato in Hazelnut and pretty much any Carol’s Cookie.”

Spin-Spun will be spinning at the Green Tie Ball on September 13.

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We’re kicking it down dog style with yoga instructor Kris Krupa. On top of the Terrace at Trump, we’re balancing through three poses to get minded and meditated all the way to namaste. While the 6AM outdoor yoga class isn’t for everyone, those who are daring to join her to chaturanga with the sunrise will surely not be disappointed. We can’t help but love her mantra of keeping a present mind and enjoy every moment—especially at her powerful perch on the Terrace at Trump.

“There is something very powerful about waking up with the sun,” Kris explains. “Why wouldn’t you want to start your day feeling good and then carry that goodness with you throughout your day?”

We couldn’t agree more.

Classes are every Friday morning at 6AM. $30 for non-members. Call 312.588.8020 for more information.

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Nothing gets us in the competitive mood quite like a cocktail challenge. Server Ashley Rodney of Caffè Oliva takes us through a boozy bash at one of the best lakefront outposts. And surprise! It’s right on the water. Tucked right on Ohio Street Beach, complete with lounging chaises, umbrella-shaded tables and reggae on Saturdays, Caffè Oliva is a blessing after a hectic city day.

No shoes, no shirt, no problem. Prder up some specials in your bathing suit. On Mondays, get satisfied with a burger and beer for $10. After 5pm on Tuesdays, Caffè Oliva has 50 cent hot wings and Wednesdays imbibe with half priced bottles of wine. Hit the motherload on Sundays with a silver platter of Maine lobster and delectable sides for $49.95. Basically, you never have to go anywhere else.


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From early spring to late fall, Field & Florist produces the sweetest blooms and freshest flora from their Barrington, IL farm. Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt take G&F through a good ol’ fashioned, hand-tied bouquet showdown! Creating arrangements for special events and beyond, the green goddesses bring together a beautifully unique perspective of floral design and sustainability for some serious flower power. We dish with the duo on Chicago faves, beginner gardening tips and of course, favorite flowers.

You’re constantly outdoors in your garden—when you have a free moment, what public space in the city is your favorite?
Molly: I’d have to say Millennium Park at the Pritzker Pavilion. You can’t beat an evening of music, a boozy picnic with friends and the Chicago skyline as your backdrop.
Heidi: I call it the “Jumping Rock,” it’s a rock near the Hyde Park lakefront that is less populated and offers a perfect jump into the deep.

For the budding city gardener, what flowers could they plant now for summer-to-fall blooms? 
Heidi: For new gardeners, seeds that are easy to grow into prolific flowers are zinnias and cosmos. Direct seed every three weeks from April-May and you will have continuous blooms through frost. Our best advice for getting your garden to grow is to amend your existing soil with composted manure. Using Miracle Grow and other synthetic fertilizers is not necessary.

Can you pick a favorite floral? We know it’s hard.
Molly: Right now I’m on a clematis kick.
Heidi: ‘Crichton Honey’ dahlias right now…that will probably change next week.

The newest  blossom of Field & Florist is a flower share program throughout the month of September with Heritage Bicycles General Store in Lakeview and Bang Bang Pie in Logan Square—sign up to receive four locally grown seasonal flower bouquets! Plus, sign up for their September 28 workshop.

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Sommelier Kelly Capri Peterson Bates regaled us with some serious vino therapy at the Boarding House for this G&F Playlist—and surprise! One of us passed with flying colors. With a carefully curated wine list consisting of 450 different bottles, we enlisted the help of Kelly to get tasting notes and pairing recommendations to give our palette a boost of maturation. And since this girl knows her alcohol, we picked Kelly’s brain on her favorite spots to sip back and relax in the city.

When you’re not at the Boarding House, where can we find you imbibing?
Twisted Spoke has one of the best whiskey selections in the city. They do Whiskey Wednesdays where all of the whiskeys are 50% off. The best deal in the city. And they have this Mojito right now featuring Rhine Hall Apple Brandy that is pretty darn tasty.  And not to mention the rooftop patio. This is hands down my go to place.

This summer has been up and down weather wise—is there a specific wine you could suggest for such a summer?
Champagne! Always Champagne! It doesn’t matter what the weather is, it pairs! If it’s beautiful outside, Champagne enhances that feeling of euphoria. If it’s not so nice outside, Champagne soothes you and you forget about the weather.

The Boarding House is now serving a brand new vegetarian menu. Stop by this intimate restaurant  located within a historic, River North building featuring a subterranean cellar lounge and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

The Boarding House, 720 N. Wells Street.

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We’re stoking the fire with one of Chicago’s favorite chefs, Bill Kim, and busting out our best grilling power stance for this head-to-head challenge. The culinary mastermind behind Bellyshack, Urban Belly and bellyQ, this “It” Chef gives us his shortlist of summer faves, from the Green City Market to his karaoke song of choice (which he may or may not be known to belt out at bellyQ).

Favorite Chicago restaurants: Sumi Robata Bar, Itto Sushi and MFK.

Favorite summertime dish at bellyQ is:  Tomato, watermelon salad with manchego cheese and almond caesar dressing.

Favorite cocktail:  Tinto verano.  A summer red wine based drink mixed with San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa over ice.

Craziest Combo for grilling:  Toasted nori with tuna belly and meyer lemon.

Favorite Karaoke song:  Rapper’s Delight by The Sugar Hill Gang.

And for all you ramen lovers out there, Bill Kim is hosting the city’s inaugural Ramenfest at bellyQ on November 8th benefitting Common Threads. Advanced tickets are $45, which include food, cocktails, wine and beer. More info and tickets here.

bellyQ, 1400 W. Randolph.

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We’re flexing our creative skills with a race to the brightest and boldest canvas. We take some pointers from art festival aficionado Amy Amdur of Amdur Productions and veteran artist Carla Bank, who has a gift for bringing colorful inspiration to life. You can find Carla’s work at any number of Amy’s festivals. Spotted around the city and suburbs, Amdur productions has been cultivating artists and engaging art festivals for over 30 years. And when Amy isn’t curating and attending her own festivals, you can find her at Ravinia enjoying live tunes and a picnic.

Looking to score some original art? Check out Amdur’s Port Clinton Art Festival August 23rd and 24th  in Highland Park, IL. Or check out the first ever Evanston Art & Big Fork Festival in Evanston featuring work of over 180 artists, from September 26th to the 27th.

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