10M is back. CELEB‘s docuseries that takes viewers inside a travel destination in 10 minutes has returned with a new and exciting episode. This time, host Nik Richie brings us inside Chicago, exploring some of the stories behind what makes the Windy City so special. Ride along with Richie as he talks to four of Chicago’s movers and shakers. The episode starts with Richie driving the streets of the city in a very special car, and then taking to his feet to explore a city known for its food, art, and culture.
First, Richie sits down with Luis Alcalà – known locally as Cheddar. Cheddar is Chicago’s man to know if you want sneakers. With connections across the city, Cheddar has a reputation on the streets for being a good guy who can help you find that sneaker you’ve been searching for. Richie talks about how he grew up in the Michael Jordan era, when basketball and all things shoes centered in Chicago during his time with the Bulls. Richie starts, “If you know anything about shoes, then you know Cheddar. Cheddar was one of the pioneers coming up from the streets, while the other kids were doing the wrong things in Pilsen, you were the one that said, ‘You know what, the shoe game might be the future.’ And now here we are. It’s crazy right?”
Cheddar agrees, “It’s insane. I tell people 20 years later, I never would have thought even having a career in sneakers. It’s insane.”
The sneaker guru adds, “I’m blessed to have a life out of [sneakers.]”
Cheddar has spent decades building connections and friendships in Chicago, so now when people need a sneaker – he knows how and where to get it. The friends he’s made have become like family. Richie adds that there’s a lot of competition and drive, but Cheddar has never left his roots in the Windy City. The sneaker aficionado responds, “I’m still in Chicago. Chicago is my home. It will always be home. No matter what neighborhood I’m in, no matter where I’m going, my name is solid in these streets. And that’s what I love. I love and appreciate that. That’s the streets taking care of me, because I took care of the streets.”
The guy everyone comes to for shoes focuses on being a good person and helping others, adding, “I wouldn’t be here without being that kind of guy.”
A Taste of Chicago
Next Richie takes viewers on a journey to a female-owned distillery as a nod to the city’s history with alcohol in Prohibition and the 1920’s. Richie goes to Rhine Hall Distillery and speaks to Jennifer Zolberg Katzman. Katzman walks Richie through the process of creating the local craft liquor, in tanks that were fabricated by Katzman’s brother.
Creating alcohol is chemistry in acting, and the Rhine Hall Distillery ages their liquor typically from 6 months to 1.5 years depending on the product. Katzman explains that the family was taught about the best still to use to create their distillate when her father was in Austria. “This is the still that was recommend to use from ‘the Schnapps Professors’ is what my dad called them. My dad played pro hockey in Austria, and that’s how we were originally introduced to making this spirit and in this way. So we call them the Schnoppsmeisters.”
All the way from Austria’s meisters to Chicago’s flavor, Rhine Hall Distillery is one of Chicago’s local businesses that help keep the heart of the city beating. Richie explains, “There’s a respect level why people pay so much for certain wines of alcohol or whatever.” Richie adds, “It’s great for me to use as a getaway, but I’ve never thought of the other side of it. It’s fascinating.”
By the Way – Those Wheels
Viewers may have taken note of the car Richie is driving, and there’s a reason for that. It’s a McLaren GT supercar, one of the most powerful street supercars in the world. With a sleek profile, the McLaren’s front end has delicately aggressive curves that prove it’s not just your average sports car.
With a rich green finish, top speeds of 203MPH, a push button start that launches a seven-speed transmission, V8 engine, and all the luxurious upgrades of a modern smartcar, this McLaren GT is a destination itself. A reimagined Grand Tourer, the GT is nimble, agile, and speedy – but handles like a dream.
In part two, Richie takes viewers into Chicago’s hottest new hotel – Nobu. General Manager Zoltan Payerli plays billiards with Richie in the coveted Nobu Villa, perched high above Chicago. A luxurious full-experience suite, Nobu Villa offers a home away from home with a view like no other. Richie explains that he’s been eagerly waiting for a chance to visit Nobu – not least of which for the food.
Payerli chuckles, “We’re very proud of the team, they put a lot of hard work into it. To your point, it’s a different type of cuisine that Chicago isn’t really known for. Chicago is a meat and potatoes kind of city, so now you’re bringing this amazing Japanese food and aesthetic here to this booming market. Ever since Google opened their buildings here a few years ago, everything else is kinda falling behind. Now it’s a trend. You have to go to the West Loop. You have to come out to Fulton Market, and be a part of what everyone else is talking about.”
Payerli continues as the video shows features of the Villa, “This is what it’s all about here too. You come here, to not just indulge in the flavors and the food, but really the ambience. I can shoot pool, talk to my buddies, enjoy watching the game, and also get that view at the same time. You can’t beat that.”
Richie says, “That’s what the Nobu brand is. You guys are always on top of the pulse of society.”
The Nobu offers service and comfort that makes people feel special and pampered, embracing the Japanese approach to hospitality.
Smyth + The Loyalist
Last, Richie takes viewers inside of Smyth + The Loyalist to talk with Chef John B. Shields. Shields is a two-time Michelin star winner, and he and his wife Karen Shields opened Smyth + The Loyalist which quickly became one of Chicago’s most beloved restaurants. Shields modestly says he can’t say his restaurant is the best in the city but certainly the best burger restaurant on the street.
Richie says, “The word on the street is that you’re number one.” Shields smiles, “I’ll take it.”
Shields explains that the key to his restaurants’ successes have been setting his team up for success. Richie asks, “Is it like the movies, are you yelling?”
Shields responds, “Less and less. My kids softened me up a little bit.”
Shields take Richie through how the restaurant’s signature burger was brought to life, with the three core tenets to its flavor being onions, good beef, and good acidity. The award-winning chef prefers diner style burgers over fancy ones, and it’s clear that his passion for the simple things have created a delicious masterpiece for Chicagoans and travelers to enjoy.
After Richie gives it a try, he declares the burger the best. Shields is humble in the face of Richie’s praise, but good taste doesn’t lie – Smyth + The Loyalist has the best burger in Chicago.
As 10M fades for this episode and the next one is in the works, you can pass the time waiting by exploring more of the stories behind Cheddar, Rhine Hall Distillery, Hotel Nobu and Chef Shields. CELEB will be examining their stories more in depth in the coming weeks, giving readers a chance to meet these industry-leaders and four pillars in the Chicago community.