This post has me feeling all the feelings about missing Chicago. Maybe it’s because the Cubs are finally making things happen (I’m NOT jinxing it, I’m NOT jinxing it). Maybe it’s that I’m not there to celebrate big things happening with my crew. Or maybe it’s because we still haven’t exactly made it into our new home in Charleston yet (it’s long story).
But I think the biggest reason is that this For Reals Meals was one of my favorites ever. I know say that every time, but I mean it. There was something really special about this one.
I’d always wanted Paul Octavious to host a FRM. He’s someone that I’m constantly creepin’ on to see what he’s up to. Whether he’s hanging with his parents or baby elephants in Thailand, the man always seems like he’s having a good time. He sees the beauty in the little things and in every situation. His positivity and curiosity is contagious.
Paul enlisted his good friend Ali Schroeder to help with the meal. By help, I mean create the entire menu and then prepare the whole thing herself because Paul and I were too busy recording a podcast. She is one of the coolest and funniest women I’ve met in a long time. And you’ll see more of Ali around here in the coming months, contributing some great recipes…stay tuned.
Ali and Paul served up a serious Mexican feast:
Quinoa + Avocado Salad
Roasted Chickpea + Cauliflower Tacos
Black Bean Rollups
and Raw Cheesecake for dessert!
There’s one big rule that I’m a stickler about with For Reals Meals, and that’s that you have to invite people you don’t really know. I mean, you can sorta know them – but if you’ve previously shared a drink, meal, or bed with them, then you can’t invite them. I’ve definitely had a couple people cheat and break this rule (ain’t naming any names). But Paul wasn’t one of them, and his guest list was an incredible mix of artists, creatives, researchers, and people making big change in this world that inspire him.
Check out some of the things they’ve got their hands in: Matt Joynt, Tiffany Wong, Peter Johnson, Tre’ Jorgensen, and Shannon Sangster. The talk with this crew spanned from the greatest typeface ever to someone almost appearing on Judge Judy over a roommate debacle. Lots of laughing and sharing. And now I’m getting all homesick again. Moving on!
And let’s not forget Eva Deitch. She’s never pictured in any of the photos here, because she’s the person taking them. This was the sixth For Reals Meals we did together, and through them she has become one of my dearest friends. This month, she also left Chicago to start a new life in Beacon, NY, with her handsome man. A big shout to her for being patient with my wackadooo ways and always making everyone in the room feel special.
I’m hoping this won’t be the last For Reals Meals in Chicago…but it will be for a little while. Thank you to Paul and Ali for making this farewell edition so delicious and fun. Next time you head down South, the Watermelon margaritas are on me.
And listen to my interview with Paul.
Paul and I discuss how leaving school to care for his grandfather ignited his passion for photography, the incredible physical transformation he’s made over the last year, and why he’s got a love/hate relationship with Instagram.