Les Dames d'Escoffier Chicago

Post – North Shore Distillery Tour & Lunch

January 29 – The Dames’ recent Sunday jaunt to North Shore Distillery in Green Oaks was both informative and tasty — the best kind of program! Owner Sonja Kassebaum graciously welcomed us to their new facility, which had previously housed a kitchen design space and warehouse, with coffee and pastries from a local bakery. The non-operative kitchen spaces have been repurposed into a spacious tasting room, complete with expansive wood cocktail bar, cocktail lounge, working demo kitchen and retail store; the warehouse, connected to the tasting rooms by a long hallway, now houses the distillery and packaging operations, overseen by Sonja’s charming husband, Derek, a chemical engineer turned liquor alchemist. NS Distillery is a small-batch distillery, and everything is done by hand, including bottling, labeling and packaging.


The distillery is also home to social media darling Ethel the Still (check out her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds), a hardworking German import from the Arnold Holstein company. Named both for ethyl alcohol and Sonja’s grandmother, this small-scale still pumps out a lot of product. As we watched and listened, Derek shared stories about the process of making gin, even as he was emptying enormous glass jugs of the clear spirit into a large plastic storage barrel. We had an opportunity to mix a wee bit of our own gin; Derek had set aside some small shot glasses of gin distilled with only juniper berries (that’s what makes a gin a gin, by definition), along with droppers of distilled herbs and spices that they use in their Distiller’s Gin No. 6 (including angelica, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander and lemon). We played at this botanical bingo, each person adding a few drops of what flavors appealed to create our own blend. At 90 proof, and with cocktails and lunch still to come, a sip was the perfect palate cleanser. We also learned that while smaller craft distilleries infuse their alcohol with actual botanicals, high-volume commercial brands use flavoring.


We returned to the tasting rooms, where Sonja awaited, along with a lovely lunch of squash soup, chicken salad and a green salad with blue cheese and candied nuts. Sonja mixed several of their popular cocktails, including an herb-forward Norwegian Spring, made with their Aquavit Private Reserve, simple syrup, fresh lime juice, dill and cucumber. It was refreshing and light, as was the Gin Smash, made with Distiller’s Gin No.11.


It was a lovely afternoon, albeit a bit tipsy! This spot is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re on the North Shore.


Event Information


Dames Who Read Choose . . .


Tuesday, October 13, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

James Beard award–winning author Adrian Miller will be joining us!

Scheduled earlier this year, but cancelled due to Covid, we are happy to reschedule this as our fall 2020 book!

We will meet via Zoom and though we cannot gather around the same table, we have an added bonus – we will be joined by the author, Adrian Miller.  The theme is still timely during this turbulent election season – but all of the politics discussed will center on the kitchen!

THE PRESIDENT’S KITCHEN CABINET: The Story of the African Americans Who have Fed our First Families from the Washingtons to the Obamas.
James Beard award–winning author Adrian Miller vividly tells the stories of the African Americans who worked in the presidential food service as chefs, personal cooks, butlers, stewards, and servers for every First Family since George and Martha Washington. Miller brings together the names and words of more than 150 black men and women who played remarkable roles in unforgettable events in the nation’s history.

A treasury of information about historical cooking techniques and equipment, the book surveys the labor of enslaved people during the antebellum period and the gradual opening of employment after Emancipation. Miller highlights how food-related work slowly became professionalized and the important part African Americans played in that process. His chronicle of the daily table in the White House proclaims a fascinating new American story.

All proceeds from the registration will go to the author to cover a modest honorarium for him  – we are so grateful that he will be joining us and we know his presence will add so much to our discussion.

DATE:    Tuesday, October 13,   6 pm – 8 pm
MINIMUM:  10    MAXIMUM:    20
REGISTRATION CLOSES:  Friday, October 9, at noon 

PRICE:   $15 Members,  $20 non-members,  purchase here   (note: there will be no refunds for this event, unless it is cancelled)

LOCATION:   Your favorite spot at home!
PARKING:     None needed!

You will receive complete information with the zoom link a few days prior to the event. If your plans change, please notify Judith Hines  jd-hines@comcast.net so we know who to expect. However, there will be no refunds for this event (unless it is cancelled for unforeseen reasons)

Get Your Groove on with Garnacha: Online Wine Tasting

Upcoming Events

Get Your Groove on with Garnacha!

Thursday, Sept. 24  6:30 -7:30 p.m.

You Are Invited to an Online Wine Tasting with
“Dame Somms” Liz Barrett and Veronica Hastings!

Garnacha is one of Spain’s greatest gifts to wine drinkers. During this delicious educational tasting, you’ll sample three Spanish Garnachas  – a light, breezy white, an appealing, floral rosé and a robust red – and learn about the Catalan region of Spain where these wines grow, east of Madrid. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Garnacha is the same grape as France’s Grenache.

The Wines:

  1. Celler Xavier Clua Illusio White Terra Alta 2018
  2. Acustic Rosat, Monsant 2018
  3. Celler Xavier Clua Illusio Red Terra Alta 2016

Spanish wines almost always over-deliver on quality for value and each of these beauties clocks in at under $20 per bottle. The House of Glunz invites you to purchase this tempting trio at a special price of $49.90 (includes tax). Wines will be available for pick-up at the shop starting Sept. 17. Delivery is free within the 60610 and 60611 zip codes, and Glunz delivers for a modest fee anywhere in the city of Chicago and uses UPS overnight for suburban deliveries.  Please order your wines no later than Monday, Sept. 21.

Garnacha is one of the most versatile wines for food, so we invite you to sip and snack during the tasting! Consider these classic Spanish bites and you can also visit La Tienda for more inspiration (no Dames affiliation, but a great resource for Spanish foods and recipes).

  • Jamon Iberico
  • Manchego Cheese
  • Pan con Tomate (grated fresh tomato on toasted bread that has been rubbed with a cut garlic clove)
  • Sautéed shrimp in garlic-kissed olive oil
  • Spanish olives

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6:30 -7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Zoom link will be sent with your confirmation via Ticketspice
WHO:   Open to LDEI members and non-members as a free event: wines purchased separately
COST:  $49.90 for all three wines. (See instructions for purchasing wines when you RSVP through Ticketspice; orders must be placed directly with House Of Glunz)
RSVP: here (your Zoom link will be forwarded to you via your Ticketspice confirmation / receipt)


Dames Wine School Launches Feb. 12

unnamed-13Welcome to the Dames Wine School and the first in series of five classes! Do you like wine, but don’t know your chard from your chenin? Do terms like tannin, body and balance confuse you? Do you find yourself overwhelmed in a wine store, gazing at thousands of labels, not knowing where to begin?

Industry professionals Dame Gina Voci and Dame Rebekah Graham will reveal all, through a tasting of eight wines, focusing on four key components  — tannin, acid, alcohol and sugar.

This is about learning about wine through tasting. You’ll learn how to identify aromas and flavors, understand what balance means, and how to describe wine. You’ll figure out your own palate as we learn about popular wine styles and grape varietals.  We’ll even touch on deciphering a wine list and how to talk to a sommelier.

When: Wed., Feb. 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at
Where: Birch Road Cellar, 1113 W. Armitage Ave. Chicago (metered street parking available)
Member tickets: $35; non-member tickets: $45 Get tickets here 
Limited to 12 attendees. All are welcome including significant others, friends, & prospective Dames. Sign up early to reserve your seat.
(Note: This is not a dinner or food/wine pairing; a light offering of cheese and crackers will be provided)

From Spark to Stores: Bringing a Singular Idea to Market

unnamed-21Have you ever had a tightly focused niche idea that just might be worth pursuing?  Nearly everyone has had that one idea that feels like it fills a hole in the marketplace. But how do you take it from idea to reality? That entrepreneurial spirit runs in the Lock family.

Dame Stephanie Lock is the founder of Ready to Roll Dough, a super-premium pastry crust business. Her sweet and savory organic all-butter crusts are sold at Whole Foods Markets across Chicago.

Stephanie’s drive was instilled in her by her mom, Joyce Lock, who is the creator of the popular “Foodie Fight” trivia game. We will hear their stories in this conversation about what it means to have an idea for a single, focused product and what it takes to get that idea into a marketable reality.

After the discussion, we’ll snack on some sweet and savory pies and play a few friendly rounds of Foodie Fight!  Just in time for the holidays, every ticket includes one disk of Ready to Roll Dough and your own Foodie Fight game!
When:  Sunday, November 17, 3-5:30 p.m.
Where:  The home of Dame Stacey Ballis, 2819 W Logan Blvd,  Chicago
Limited to 16 attendees
Tickets: $40 for Dames; $50 for non-members. This is an awesome event for guests! Get your tickets here.

Dames Chicago Award Scholarship to 14 Deserving Women



Sept. 20, 2019: The Chicago chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier was thrilled to present scholarships to 14 amazing women who are pursuing careers in food and beverage, the culinary arts, and/or hospitality industries. The recipients are:

Camila Ambriz, Joliet Junior College

Nedrianna Brunt, Washburne Culinary and Hospitality

Kristin Dula, French Pastry School

Maisie Elias, French Pastry School

Gianina Gomez Cabrera, Kendall College

Keeley Collins, French Pastry School

Khatera Jackson, Kendall College / National Louis

Renee Lewis, Joliet Junior College

Khadija Malik, Kendall College

Maria Ramirez-Gregg, College of DuPage

Emma Daryl Richards, French Pastry School

Destini Williams, Robert Morris University

Naamee Yisrael, Washburne Culinary and Hospitality

Alsonye Ugbebor, Washburne Culinary and Hospitality

Congratulations to these outstanding women. We can’t wait to see their careers evolve! If you are interested in more information about the Les Dames Scholarship program, please click here. Applications for 2020 scholarships are due March 10, 2020.