Hello, Chicago!

Lauren and I were kindly invited by Middleby Residential to visit their showroom at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago in July. So we got up very early on a Wednesday and hopped on a jet plane. See proof below…

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We arrived at O’Hare and immediately discovered that summer in Chicago is not like that of San Francisco. It is hot and it is humid. Every time we travel, we are reminded of what a truly special place our home is.   

Our itinerary let us act like tourists on our first day, which we were pretty excited about. Neither of us had ever been to Chicago, though we’d heard a lot about the city and were ready to experience as much as we could fit in. Our car service picked us up, a black Cadillac of course, and got us into downtown at a high rate of speed, with some moves that rivaled Mario Andretti. We all survived and scrambled out at a bridge above the river and worked our way down a winding staircase through bustling crowds to the promenade along the Chicago River. We had made it to our first outing: the Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour.

We boarded the boat and went straight up to the rooftop deck to depart on our river cruise. Chicago is such a pretty town. The river runs through downtown and was busy with the vibrancy of many people walking, working and enjoying the sites. Our tour guide told us about the history of buildings old and new. It was such a fun experience and was filled with so much history.

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Because the river goes right through downtown with a North and a South Fork, there are many bridges spanning the length of the river. Some close enough to touch with your hand as you go under.  It’s just beautiful and my photos do not do it justice. I’d like to go back and spend a little more time exploring the city.

About halfway through the tour, the sky opened up and just poured rain. It was incredible. They told us that we could wait it out and it would probably stop soon. The running joke was “if you wait five minutes, the weather will change.” But us California girls high tailed it off the top deck and made a mad dash for the cabin where we enjoyed the rest of the ride.

After the boat ride, we capped off the evening with a group dinner with our hosts and the other guests and then hustled back to the hotel to get some rest for day number two.

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Day Two began with a pretty good bout of rain along with thunder and lightning. We headed out bright and early to the Merchandise Mart and the Middleby Showroom for a presentation on their products; including Viking, La Cornue, Lynx, and Aga. The Chicago showroom is the first of their new showrooms and we were greeted by the Showroom Manager, Rufus Greer and Brand Ambassador and Executive Chef, Jaime Laurita. Jaime designed the Chicago site and is also the brother of Real Housewives of New Jersey fame, Caroline Manzo!

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He spoke about his connection to Middleby and their products and prepared an incredible meal for us of salmon, a variety of salads and side dishes and some incredible desserts…yum! So much fun to get a first hand view of how their products work and see some new additions like the Viking Turbochef oven which Jaime cooked our salmon lunch in, literally in minutes.

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Here’s a snippet from Viking about what it can do… As you can tell, this is my new favorite appliance!

Steamed asparagus - perfectly al dente - in 45 seconds. A rack of lamb in 4 minutes. A 12-pound Thanksgiving turkey in 42 minutes. From family favorites to gourmet dinners, the TurboChef Speedcook oven enables you to cook fresh, delicious food up to 15 times faster than conventional methods with the flavor and quality endorsed by four-star chefs. Meats are caramelized, moist, and tender. Baked goods are golden and flaky, and vegetables come out fresh, crisp, and succulent.
Here are some Viking colors and, we hear that there is a new color palette in the works to be unveiled soon!

Here are some Viking colors and, we hear that there is a new color palette in the works to be unveiled soon!

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Brian O’Moore and Jeremy Dispenza of Middleby Residential

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We had a little bit of free time after our presentations, so we headed next door to Rohl…but they were on a lunch break! We finally made it in and we were able to peruse some our favorite showroom before heading back to the airport and our flight back home.

It was a short but sweet trip to the windy city of Chicago. Looking forward to our next adventure in design…


Tama Bell Design is an interior design firm with projects in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Petaluma and throughout Sonoma County and the Bay Area.