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18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

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Chai List photo

Passover is almost here, which means Jews everywhere are about to embark on their annual religiously mandated Atkins diet. We know parting with sweet, sweet gluten for eight days can lead to agonizing, salad-filled melancholy – especially in a foodie city like Chicago – so now is the time to load up, friends.

Last year, Oy! blogger Lauren Schmidt listed her recommendations for enjoying those final meals before total grain abstinence, so we thought we'd come up with a definitive list of Chicago's top bread-based goodies.

Happy carb-cramming, Oy!sters! (Oh, and chag sameach too.)


1. Deep dish pizza from just about anywhere

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Let's start with the obvious. Whether you're a Lou's, Gino's, Gio's, Peaquod's, etc. guy or gal, Chicago pizza is the biggest loss we morn each and every Pesach.


2. Mac 'n Cheese Pizza – Dimo's

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

What's better than pizza? Pizza topped with more carbs. Oh, and if you love Dimo's, you should read our interview with him. – Wrigleyville, Bucktown


3. Mac 'n Cheese Grilled Cheese – Cheesie's

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

While we're adding macaroni to everything … -Lakeview


4. Brick oven pizza – Spacca Napoli

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Not a deep-dish fan? It's like they smuggled this place out of Italy and slapped it in Ravenswood. And if they have the burrata cheese, GET THE BURRATA. - Ravenswood


5. Pasta – Maggiano's

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Mama mia! This-a place has everything! - City and suburblocations


6. Pad Thai – Penny's Noodle Shop

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Pesach Thai is here! … well, more like pre-Pesach Thai. - Lakeview, Wicker Park


7. Ramen – Oiistar

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

You'll have to pass over Ramen too, so slurp's up! - Wicker Park


8. Biscuits – Bang Bang Pie Shop

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

SO FLUFFY. And oh yea, there's pie too -Logan Square


9. Dutch Baby and Apple pancakes – Walker Bros. Original Pancake House

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Holy Moses! – Suburb locations


10. French toast – The Bongo Room

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Breakfast – the most decadent meal of the day! (Bonus points if it's made from challah.) -Wicker Park, Andersonville


11. Doughnuts – The Doughnut Vault

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

We donut know what we're going to do for eight days … - Near North, Near West Side


12. Chocolate chip coffee cake – Leonard's Bakery

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Try it, you'll like it … - Northbrook


13. Pie – First Slice

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Bye, bye, miss quite glutinous pie – Andersonville, Ravenswood, Albany Park


14. Chocolate cake – Portillo's

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

By which all chocolate cakes are measured. – City and suburb locations


15. Cupcakes – Molly's Cupcakes

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

Nom-aste. – Lincoln Park


16. Bread – Pastoral

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

And then there's plain delicious golden bread. (With a side of not-Manischewitz please) –Lakeview, The Loop, West Loop


17. Beer – Hop Leaf

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

How dare you assume we forgot about liquid bread! And only the finest, please. You should probably also order a sandwich while you're at it - Andersonville


18. Bagels - New York Bagel & Bialy

18 Chicago Foods to Carb-Cram before Passover

And of course, the bubbe of all carbohydrates. – Lincolnwood, and wherever amazing bagels in Chicago are sold, including Chicago Bagel Authority and Beans and Bagels.

Tell us about how you’ve made a difference

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Oy!Chicago is looking for guest writers of all experience levels to contribute to our next special blog series, “Repairing Our World,” a collection of stories and reflections on tikkunolam, making the world a better place.

We are looking for guest-submitted stories of any kind of effort to make the world a better place, whether it’s your life’s work or one day that you’ll never forget . Whether you have a great story that’s ready to publish now or are looking for some help finding the words, we want to work with you and your idea!

The blog series will run the week of Earth Day, April 20-24.To pitch your idea, write a paragraph describing what your piece would be about and send it to info@oychicago.com by Friday, March 27. The only requirements are that the post should in some way relate to the theme, and that you are 21 or older. We will review your submission and let you know if we are interested in working with you and running your piece in the series.

Please note that Oy!Chicago bloggers are volunteers, so we are unable to pay for published submissions at this time. If you have any questions, email them to info@oychicago.com

Thanks for your interest!

Stef & Steven

8 Questions for David Schwartzbaum: Comedian, improv veteran, JCC programmer

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8 Questions for David Schwartzbaum photo

I met David Schwartzbaum at JCC Apachi Day Camp, and have worked with him there in a number of capacities over the last five years, but our connection also extends beyond entertaining Jewish children and into the realm of performance theater. 

David started performing theater and comedy in Miami before moving to Philadelphia and becoming the founder and co-artistic director of The Off-Color Theatre Company. After producing/acting/writing seven world premieres including full-length productions like “No-Talent Hacks” and “Bailout! The Live Action Sitcom,” David moved to Chicago and graduated from the Second City Conservatory and the iO training program. You can find him writing for www.hipsterjew.com, at the Annoyance Theater taking classes, or at home watching wrestling.

Last month, I had the privilege of chatting with David on my new podcast, Under the Lights (listen to the episode here), which highlights the work of Chicago artists — actors, directors, writers, musicians, improvisers, performance artists, casting directors, and others. Each episode is a unique opportunity to get to know the people who make up our Chicago arts community, and a place for artists to promote their work. New episodes are released every Monday and Thursday. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free or listen to/download individual episodes at underthelights.libsyn.com. You can also connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UTLPodcast and on Twitter: @UTLPodcast.

David is definitely a Jew you should know, so I also asked him eight questions about his comic influences, icons, what he’s up to and who would be on his Jewish Mt. Rushmore. 

1. What comedians influenced you at a young age?

It all starts and ends with Mel Brooks, who truly influenced me at a very young age without me even realizing it. Blazing Saddles, History of the World Part I, The Producers, these were the films that truly got my brain working differently. Mitch Hedberg was a huge influence on me as well, I listened to him when I was 13 and was blown away. I couldn't believe how smart and funny he was. It infuriated me my brain didn't work the way his did, I was impressed, I was jealous and I had to do what he was doing. At 16 is when I watched my first George Carlin special, and he made me so scared. The stuff he was saying scared the hell out of me to the point where I said, wow, I got to write like that ... and I never will

2. What is your favorite Tom Arnold movie?

You know ... truth be told ... I cannot think of one Tom Arnold movie! Like no joke! Was he in the movie ... what was that movie that had all that controversy after 9/11? Big Trouble? (just looked it up on IMDB) OH NO! That's Tom Sizemore! hahahaha! Oh boy, this is a disaster. This is a true story. I was watching the second or third season of Last Comic Standing, this had to be 10 years ago, and they said they had a guest judge, “comedy legend” Tom Arnold and I turned to my mother, whom I was watching the show with, and I said, “comedy legend?” And my mother turns to me and says “eh. Just let him have it.” That's my Tom Arnold memory.

3. What makes you laugh?

The darker the better. Someone getting a paper cut? Not so funny. Someone being put into a giant paper bag and then that paper bag being shaken violently until the man turns into a pile of (kosher) gelatinous goop and then a dog licks it up? HILARIOUS.

4. What song played under the picture montage in your bar mitzvah video?

No Joke. “World's Greatest” by R. Kelly. 

5. Who are the best comedians or groups working right now in Chicago?

You hear of this thing Book of Mormon? I hear it's pretty good. Ryan Archibald is fantastic. He's directing a lot, but go see anything he does. The show I've watched more than any show since I've been in Chicago is “Messing with a Friend at the Annoyance Theater; Susan Messing is a queen. The Ruckus at the iO is a fantastic Harold team. Although I haven't gotten a chance to see them, I've heard amazing things about the CIC team Gigantic, they've got some hilarious people on that team. If anyone wants to take me, I'm a very mediocre date!

6. What projects do you have coming up?

I've got two projects opening at the end of April I've been working tirelessly on. 

I am writing and producing a five-episode, live-action sitcom entitled “In Fraud We Trust,” which will be going up at Stage 773's Blackbox all through May, Thursday nights at 10:30 p.m. as well as a ‘60s cabaret-style sketch revue show that will be happening at the iO Theater Fridays at 8 p.m.

Also stay tuned, my improv group “Switch Committee” will be starting another run in April as well. Check us out at www.Switchcommittee.com

7. Who is on your Mount Rushmore of famous Jews?

Oh boy. Wow. Mt. Rushmore only has four? Sheesh. Man, this is narrowing it down, but just like the premise of Aladdin, only the most pure-hearted can get the prize.

1. Theodore Herzl. He was a baller. Everyone was like, “Yo Herzl. Uganda?”  And he was like “**** no.” They were like, “come on East Africa!” and he was like, “suck it.” Guy was the Kanye of the early 1900s. He changed the game.

2. Albert Einstein. Gotta go with Einstein, without him we wouldn't have nuclear weapons.

3. Joan Rivers. THAT'S RIGHT! I'M PUTTING A WOMAN ON THE MOUNTAIN! A POWERFUL, INTENSE, BEHEMOTH OF A WOMAN! She had more balls than any man on this mountain! Her and Herzl! Biggest balls of all Jews put together!

And of course, number four, is the person we all wanted to be, the person our parents brought up every time we didn't want to go to temple and that is: 

4. Sandy Koufax. “If he didn't play in the World Series on Yom Kippur then you cannot play your Game Boy on Friday nights!” Damn you Sandy Koufax, you talented Semitic beautiful S-O-B.

8. Have you found the afikomen?

Yes I did! But it was at the same time I found out that God doesn't exist, and oh man was that a real buzzkill!

How Jon Stewart changed a Jewish generation

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How Jon Stewart changed a Jewish generation photo 1

Jon Stewart

Oy vey! Comedy Central legend, Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show after 16 years! When I first heard the news I couldn’t believe it. I became a bit verklempt. Why was I feeling this way? Why is Jon leaving me? What am I now going to fill my need for news with? How will I get through the next election? What will replace this show on my DVR? And why am I asking so many questions?!

The last answer, I know. I am Jewish. We ask questions. It’s what we do. Since we were young we were taught to question and ask why. And that’s what Jon Stewart does every evening on his parody news show that’s won two Peabody Awards and 18 Emmys. He’s like a hip funny rabbi that makes us question ourselves, society, Republicans, Democrats, Bush, Obama, the media, and deep-dish pizza (which still rules—I live in Chicago, duh).

For a whole generation of young people, Jon Stewart has made being informed and learning about the news cool. A comedian is the voice of the people and through this satirical comedy news show, Stewart has stood up for us, taught us to question, and made sure we held ourselves (i.e. Fox, Fox News, Fox and Friends, Fox, Fox, Fox) accountable all while being funny. Do you know how many times I’ve told my mom she should watch The Daily Show to get her news?! A lot.

How Jon Stewart changed a Jewish generation photo 2

The author…on a typical Tuesday.

So many young Jewish Americans identify with Stewart. Maybe it’s because this Jew from Jersey does impressions of Jerry Lewis that remind us of Uncle Saul or maybe it’s because he grew up similar to us being surrounded by the same Jewish family values, traditions, and dysfunctional meshugas at your sister’s kid’s bris. Whatever the case, he is one of us and we just get him. When Adam Sandler sang The Chanukah Song, it made me proud to be Jewish, but Jon Stewart made me want to be a better person. He fills a void for people looking for hope. He is able to articulate what so many of us are thinking. This mensch gives us hope that there is better in the world; that the bar should be raised a little higher. He is a role model.  

As an aspiring comedian from Skokie, it’s always been a dream of mine to meet Stewart. His standup comedy is second to none and MTV’s The Jon Stewart Show (circa 1993; Netflix it!) also ruled. In 2006, the day before I left on my Birthright Israel trip, my dream came true. A good friend of mine, who is now a senior producer for The Daily Show, brought me backstage to check out the offices and meet the staff. As I was walking through the hallway, this short, silver-haired Jewish man walked up to me with a smile and introduced himself.  

“Jon Stewart,” he said. I almost didn’t recognize him because he was wearing a sweat shirt and jeans. I thought, “Where’s the suit?” Then I thought, “Who cares?! It’s Jon Stewart!” He was really nice too. Don’t you love hearing when someone you like a lot is nice? They say you’re only as good as the company you keep. The company Stewart kept included a diverse crew of clever, funny, and talented individuals, not to mention Steven Colbert and Steve Carrell.

People from different backgrounds came together to put on this awesomeness that informed, entertained, and encouraged young people to care more about the world around them and take an interest in current events. It’s like this show is setting an example for the world to follow. Stewart no doubt identifies with being Jewish, but he believes it’s more important that we all strive to be good people. And if everyone tried being the best version of themselves, this world would be a better place.

Stewart will go down as one of the most influential voices of our generation. Thank you for teaching us, guiding us, and making us young (?) adult Americans proud to be Jewish, Mr. Stewart! We look forward to your next adventure.

And now, for your moment of Zen: The Daily Show electric guitar theme song plays in the background as a monkey sitting at a news desk tries putting on big shoes.

Seth Davis is a writer, actor, and stand-up comedian who lives in Chicago. See him at Zanies, The Laugh Factory, and Twitter @sethd78, and check out his new website starting in mid March, www.sethdaviscomedy.com.

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