Monday, October 23, 2017

Chefs from West Hartford’s The Cook and the Bear Receive Accolades and National Attention

Powerhouse Duo Chef Tyler Anderson and 
Pit Master Jamie McDonald Causing a Sensation on the Restaurant Scene

Within only three months of opening West Hartford’s newest dining experience, The Cook & The Bear at Blue Back Square, already has accolades and attention streaming in for the co-owners, the staff, and, of course, the acclaimed craft barbeque food and unique beverages. 

“The Cook” Tyler Anderson, also of Millwright’s Restaurant in Simsbury, was just announced as one of the competitors on Bravo TV’s fifteenth season of Top Chef, debuting this December. Chef Anderson is no stranger to national audiences having won Chopped and competed on Beat Bobby Flay. In addition to his upcoming appearance on this high-profile show, Anderson was nominated as a semi-finalist for the third time for the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Northeast.
Not to be outdone, Jamie “The Bear” McDonald, the owner of Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ, was recently named – alongside his wife, Cheryl McDonald – a Polaris Award winner by Leadership Greater Hartford. This honor was bestowed on the McDonald’s due to their advocacy for the City of Hartford, Bear’s commitment to fair wages for employees with non-tipped workers receiving $15 an hour, and for their many philanthropic endeavors. In addition, Jamie McDonald has also been selected Alumni of the Year by his alma mater, Hartford’s Trinity College

The Connecticut Restaurant Associationhas nominated The Cook & The Bear, which is owned in partnership with A.J. Auricchio, in the category of “Best Newcomer” for their 2017 CRA Awards. Joining in the attention are The Cook & The Bear’s Pastry Chef Kristin Eddy (nominated for “Rising Star” for her work at TC&TB and Millwright’s) and bartender Aaron Stepka (nominated for “Best Mixologist”). 

With their combined backgrounds of Jamie McDonald’s award-winning classic Kansas City BBQ and Millwright’s fine dining, The Cook & The Bear takes taste buds on a casual-food journey combining adventurous New England with a twist of southern comfort. The restaurant itself highlights the marriage of two distinct visions. The capacious bar area features a bright, New England clapboard feel reminiscent of Millwright’s 17th century home in Simsbury while the dining area takes its rich, dark brown hues from Bear’s smokehousemilieu.

Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ has two popular locations in Windsor and Hartford’s Front Street, as well as a Bear’s Express takeout location in South Windsor. Jamie “The Bear” McDonald’s take on Kansas City BBQ was deemed “Excellent” by The New York Times, was named Casual Restaurant of the Year by the Connecticut Restaurant Association, and was voted Best BBQ and Best New Restaurant by the readers of CT NOW. Reflecting his expansive vision, McDonald opened the acclaimed Blind PigPizza in downtown Hartford in 2016 and, this summer, he debuted Chango Rosa, his fun and funky take on Latin street food at Hartford’s Union Station. 
Tyler “The Cook” Anderson, a California native, has fallen in love with New England farms, aspiring to use foods within a 150 miles radius to provide fresh flavor. Chef Anderson honed his skills, learning from master chefs in Chicago at the Ritz Carlton, which achieved the highest Zagat rating and a Mobil Five-Star rank during his tenure. During his time at the Prairie Grass Caf√©, he helped the restaurant receive the designation of one of the “50 Hottest Restaurants in the United States” from Bon Appetit. He was executive chef for Equinox in Manchester, VT and Arrabelle in Vail, CO.
At Pip’s at the Copper Beech Inn, Anderson’s spin on regional New England fare earned a five-star review in Hartford Magazine and was voted best new restaurant by Connecticut Magazine. At Millwright’s in Simsbury, he has received perfect score reviews from The New York Times, Connecticut Magazine, Hartford Magazine, and has earned four nominations for the prestigious Best Chef Northeast James Bear Award. Chef Tyler has twice (2014, 2015) been nominated for the prestigious Best Chef Northeast James Beard Award, and in 2014 was named Chef of the Year by the Connecticut Restaurant Association. Chef Anderson was the winner of the Food Network’s Chopped in 2009 and appeared on the popular Beat Bobby Flay in 2014.

Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, Noon to Midnight (kitchen open until 10 PM11 PM on Friday & Saturday), Sunday Noon to 10 PM (kitchen open until 9 PM) with the brunch menu available until 3 PM.  The Cook & The Bear offers happy hour specials Monday through Thursday. Reservations are not accepted, however the restaurant recommends calling in advance for a waitlist or downloading their The Cook & The Bear App to prebook your spot in line. The restaurant is located at 50 Memorial Road, Blue Back Square in West Hartford, Connecticut. 860-595-3345 and online at

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Connecticut Loves Puerto Rico

Let's Do This Connecticut! 

CT Loves PR ( is an initiative featuring Connecticut chefs, bartenders, bakers and restaurateurs standing together to serve up a small offering of food and drink – inspired by Puerto Rico – as tribute to this important sisterland that we will not leave behind. 100% of the proceeds generated by these dishes will be donated to Unidos Por Puerto Rico / United for Puerto Rico, an initiative brought forth by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rossell√≥ in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of the hurricanes (

The event will run October 21 – 28, with the following list of participants:

21 Oak (Manchester)
The Barn Restaurant (Granby)
Amis Trattoria (Westport)
Artisan (West Hartford and Southport)
Avert Brasserie (West Hartford)
Beachland Tavern (West Hartford)
Black Bamboo (West Hartford)
Bricco Trattoria (Glastonbury)
Butchers & Bakers (Farmington)
Carbone's Kitchen (Bloomfield)
Carbone's Ristoronte (Hartford)
Caseus Fromagerie Bistro (New Haven)
Chief Brody’s Bahn Mi  (New Haven)
Cook & The Bear (West Hartford)
Cure (Unionville)
Flora Plant Food + Drink (West Hartford)
Grants Restaurant & Bar (West Hartford)
GZen (Branford)
Han Restaurant (Hartford)
Ichiro Habachi & Sushi (West Hartford)
India (West Hartford)
L’escale (Greenwich)
Liquid Nirvana (Glastonbury and Avon)
Max Oyster Bar (West Hartford)
McLaddens (West Hartford)
Millwright's (Simsbury)
Park & Oak Restaurant (West Hartford)
Park Tavern (West Hartford)
Rockin Chicken (Hartford)
Rooster and Co (Newington)
Seoul BBQ (New Britain)
Shu (Fairfield)
Shu (West Hartford)
Table 580 Asian Fusion (Simsbury)
The Cottage (Westport)
The Green Teahouse (West Hartford)
The North House (Avon)
The Sweet Beet (Granby)
Toscano Trattoria (Manchester)
Treva Restaurant & Bar (West Hartford)
Vitality Juice and Smoothie Bar (Manchester)
Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen (West Hartford)

The event’s website - - will be adding information in the coming weeks to highlight the special dishes and cocktails each restaurant will be offering.  

Social media channels (#CTLovesPR) include:
o   Twitter: @CTLovesPR
o   Instagram: @CTLovesPR
o   Facebook Page: CTLovesPR

CT Loves PR is hoping to continue to add local businesses to this growing list of participants! The deadline to sign-up is this Friday – for any chefs or owners looking to join this initiative, contact Susan Hosmer

Monday, October 2, 2017

Noodles On9 in New Haven

Here's a fun event taking place this week! 

The Town Green District is holding ttheir second annual Noodles On9- a street festival take over Orange St in New Haven’s Historic 9th Square on Friday, October 6 from 6pm to 8pm.  In conjunction with the opening reception for City Wide Open Studios this will be a fun event with something for everyone! 
Noodles  On9 will feature your favorite 9th Square restaurants with noodle dishes ranging from ravioli to rice noodles. Craft cocktails, beer and wine will be available for purchase.  In addition, a DJ pumping up the music and performance art on the street will highlight the viewing of over 400 artist commissions inside Artspace that will make this an event not to be missed. 
Noodles On9 is free, family friendly and open to the public. 

 What’s on the menu:

Amoy’s Cajun, Creole & American Restaurant | Cajun pasta & Amoy’s famous corn bread
Duc’s Place | Vietnamese specialtity rice vermicelli noodles with roasted pig 
Fornarelli’s Ristorante | Spinach and atrichoke ravioli with gorgonzola cream sauce & pumpkin ravioli with light sage cream sauce
Hunan House CT | Pan fried & steamed dumplings, Hunan style spicy noodles & fried rice
Meat & Co. | “Jack’s Favorite Rigatoni” & “Aunt Connie’s Linguine and Clams”
Mecha Noodle Bar | Shrimp Cake Pho 
Ninth Square Market | Middle Eastern hummus, mojadra & tabbouli
Pho & Spice Restaurant | Drunken noodles, lomain & Pad Thai

 What to drink:

Fornarelli’s Ristorante | Italian wine feature
116 Crown | Specialty cocktail feature
skappo merkato | Wine feature
The Juice Box with Breathing Room Yoga | cold-pressed juice sample & learn about free yoga
The Trinity Bar & Restaurant | Beer

What will get you moving at Noodles:

DJ David Chambers | Spinning on the street to make you move your feet!
BRICKYARD | Outdoor performace art installation by John O’Donnell for all ages 
Psychic Readings | Discounted tarot and palm readings

And there's more happening around the 9th Square: 

116 Crown | 116 Crown St |  1/2 off any noodle dish 
Artist & Craftman Supply | 821 Chapel St | Cathartic Canvas Creations | 6-8 pm | free
Capture Salon | 100 Crown St | Insights & Delights: Hair, skin and nail consultations | 6-8 pm | free
Ecoworks | 839 Chapel St | Angel Hair Shag Rug Making | 6-8 pm | free
Fornarelli’s Ristorante | 99 Orange St | Complimentary glass of wine with dinner 
Fresh Yoga | 49 Orange St | Fresh Flow Free Yoga Class | 4:30-5:45 pm | free 
Make Haven | 266 State St | Pasta Making | 7:30-9 pm | free
Reynold’s Fine Art | 96 Orange St | Sea and Stone: The Thimble Islands, Paintings by Arthur Yanoff | free 
The Bar at Firehouse 12 | 45 Crown St | Carbonara pasta dish. Beer special til 8 pm

Sunday, October 1, 2017

ChowdaFest 2017 Results

The 2017 ChowdaFest Winners! 

We had such a great time at this year's ChowdaFest!

Congratulations to our new 2017 New England Chowdafest Champions!

This year's contest was no exception - all entries were soooo good!

New England Clam Chowder:

1st - Pike Place Chowder (a threepeat!)
2nd - B.R.Y.A.C Restaurant & Raw Bar
3rd - Sedona Taphouse Norwalk, CT

Traditional Chowder

1st - Dunvilles Restaurant
2nd - Crave Fairfield
3rd - The Clam Castle

Creative Chowder:

1st - Our House Bistro (a threepeat)
2nd - Sam the Clam's Pub and Grub
3rd - Hub & Spoke


1st - Crab Shell Restaurant
2nd - Geronimo Tequila Bar and Southwest Grill, Fairfield
3rd - J Timothy's Taverne


1st - Old Post Tavern
2nd - Harvest Wine Bar Westport
3rd - Harbor Harvest

We will update the attendance and donation information as soon as announced!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

MGM Springfield - Coming in 2018

MGM Resorts to Debut 
New England Luxury Gaming Resort in Late 2018

$960 Million MGM Springfield Marks Largest Private Investment in Western Massachusetts

It's coming! Expanding its presence on the East Coast, MGM Resorts will debut MGM Springfield, the Commonwealth’s first integrated luxury resort and entertainment destination, in Q3 2018. The $960 million project will celebrate Springfield’s rich heritage while establishing its role as the gateway to New England.
As the largest private investment in the history of Western Massachusetts, MGM Springfield is at the forefront of the burgeoning revitalization of Springfield, primed to attract thousands of new travelers from the region and beyond.
It's said the property will span 14 acres and three blocks within the heart of the historic city. Igniting a cultural and economic renaissance, the development will encompass a 250-room boutique hotel, gourmet dining options, well-curated retail stores, tranquil spa facilities, more than 125,000 square feet of gaming space and an 8,000-seat entertainment and events venue via a partnership with MassMutual Center. Interactive entertainment elements such as a contemporary cinema, bowling complex, seasonal skating rink and an outdoor marketplace spotlighting local art, events and talent will round out the resort’s offerings.
MGM Springfield’s design will fuse modern construction with historical buildings—including First Spiritualist Church, Springfield Armory and Chandler Union Hotel—to pay tribute to the city’s revered past while delivering entirely new experiences for guests. Serving as an integral part of the community, its retail and dining options will accessible via Main Street, allowing visitors easy access between the property’s shops and restaurants and other Downtown Springfield attractions.

A Glimpse into MGM Springfield:
·         Accommodations – MGM Springfield’s six-story boutique-style hotel will be a whimsical-yet-sophisticated retreat. Design details—including factory-style paned glass and Edison bulb fixtures—will harken to Springfield’s industrial roots, while eclectic artwork will evoke the locale’s creative iconography, visually referencing Dr. Seuss, Emily Dickenson and Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
  • Retail – New England’s own Kringle Candle is the first partner to announce new boutique locations within MGM Springfield’s curated shopping collection. The much-anticipated retail lineup will animate MGM Springfield’s street-level with exciting offerings, creating a vibrant interface with Springfield’s revitalized downtown experience.
·         Art – Woven through all elements of the resort, a public art program will feature a captivating collection of commissioned and hand-selected pieces, including an exclusive exhibit developed in partnership withSpringfield MuseumsCabinet of Curiosities: Springfield Innovations from the Springfield Museums.” The specially curated exhibition will embody the enterprising legacy of Springfield, showcasing turn-of-the-century objects such as a 1925 Edison Western Union Stock Ticker, a 1915 Springfield-made Telegraphone, an 1895 Edison Home Phonograph, thoughtfully placed throughout the resort.
·        Food & Beverage - MGM Springfield will offer an array of food-and-beverage spots, including MGM's signature TAP Sports Bar, the bustling South End Market off Main Street and numerous new-to-market concepts ranging from specialty restaurants and fast-casual venues to in-room dining.
·         Entertainment – The 8,000-seat MassMutual Center is MGM Springfield’s official entertainment venue, serving as the home for large-scale conventions and events along with its 100,000-square-foot convention center. As one of the world’s leading presenters of live entertainment, MGM Resorts International will leverage its pipeline of global relationships to attract first-rate events, reinforcing the city’s reputation as the region’s premier entertainment hub. MGM Springfield also will partner with other local venues such as Symphony Hall.
  • Open-Air Plaza – Inspired by the classic New England town common, MGM Springfield will create a lively outdoor plaza and thriving public space, with the iconic Revolutionary-War-era Springfield Armory at the center. The historic United States arsenal will offer a remarkable backdrop for an open-air marketplace, which will offer live events, local artisans, a weekly farmers market and seasonal programming including an outdoor ice rink. The plaza will become the anchor for the neighborhood’s pedestrian crowd, encouraging guests to explore the many local businesses and historical sites nearby.
  • Enjoyment for all – Extending from the outdoor plaza, the resort will offer several multi-use amenities, including an eight-screen movie theater complex; 10-lane bowling center; serene spa; and an 8,000-square-foot pool situated within a terraced rooftop garden.
·         Meetings & Events – In addition to large-scale convention capabilities at MassMutual Center, MGM Springfield will offer approximately 44,000 square feet of meeting-and-event space to accommodate events ranging from business to social gatherings.
  • Casino – An expansive, 125,000-square-foot gaming floor will feature approximately 2,550 slot machines, 120 gaming tables, a poker room and high-limit VIP gaming area for a variety of experiences.
Located approximately 80 miles west of Boston, Springfield boasts a 375-year legacy as a major crossroads of New England. Among the city’s numerous draws are the Basketball Hall of Fame—a shrine to the sport in its founding locale—and The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, a recently debuted interactive center devoted to literary great and Springfield native Theodor Geisel.
Immediate access to Interstate 91 and the Mass. Pike, as well as nearby Bradley International Airport in Hartford and the Amtrak-serviced Union Station, make MGM Springfield well connected and accessible to local and global audiences
In the coming months, MGM Springfield will unveil more details about the offerings and amenities available to guests. For more information, visit

Uncorked: Wine and Beer Tasting at Westfield Trumbull

Westfield Trumbull to Host Uncorked”  
Wine and Beer Tasting Event 
to Support Local Charity on October 7

Local shopping mall’s ‘sip-and-shop’ event 
will benefit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Save the date! Westfield Trumbull is hosting its very first Uncorked event on Saturday, October 7, 2017 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The ‘sip-and-shop’ experience invites shoppers to purchase a bracelet that will give them access to wine and beer tastings from local wineries and breweries as well as light refreshments, and shopping perks at participating retail locations. Westfield Trumbull is located at 5065 Main Street in Trumbull, Conn.

The event was organized to benefit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.  All ticket sales for the Uncorked event will be donated to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to help provide funds for the more than 20,000 seriously ill children and family members the organization serves annually. 

“Support from community partners like Westfield Trumbull is so important in helping Hole in the Wall bring our year-round programs to the seriously ill children and families we serve,” said Andrea Keefe, manager, peer-to-peer programs at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. “We are grateful to be the charity beneficiary of ‘Uncorked’ and are excited about the many stores, restaurants and others who are sharing their hearts with Camp for the event.” 

Participating retail stores within Westfield Trumbull include: Banana Republic, Brookstone, Denali, Gift-ology, J. Jill, Lord & Taylor, Michaels Jewelers, Pandora, Sephora, Solstice, and Soma. During the Uncorked event, bracelet holders will enjoy light appetizers and a tasting of wine and/or beer from local wineries and breweries like Two Roads Brewing Company(Stratford, Conn.) and Jonathan Edwards Winery(North Stonington, Conn.). Additional wine and beer tasting will be facilitated by Lifted Spirits Bar Concierge & Staffing. To add to the experience, select retailers are offering Uncorked participants special deals and promotions including chances to win gift cards and free merchandise at J. Jill, Solstice Sunglasses, and Soma, and 20% off at Denali and Brookstone.

“At Westfield we are passionate about the important philanthropic work we do in the many communities we serve, both on a local basis and across the nation,” said Katherine Bolas, Westfield Trumbull’s Marketing Director. “Supporting causes that focus on children’s health, wellness and education is particularly important to us and to our customers, and so through this first-ever Uncorked event, we hope the Trumbull community comes together to enjoy a unique shopping experience while supporting The Hole in the Wall Gang.” 

Westfield Trumbull urges participants to enjoy the event responsibly and has teamed up with Uber to provide a safe transportation option. Using the promo code WESTFIELD, new Uber users will get their first ride free (up to $15). 

Tickets for the event can be purchased in advance for $20 or at the door for $30, pending availability. All participants must be 21+ with a valid ID. To purchase tickets and find additional details, visit


About Westfield Trumbull
Located in Fairfield County, Westfield Trumbull delivers a dynamic shopping experience featuring the area's best fashion, dining, family amenities and everyday conveniences. The property features a sleek ambience and an enhanced retail offering that includes Apple, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, H&M and Michael Kors alongside a popular The Cheesecake Factory and Connecticut’s first Wahlburgers (opening Fall, 2017). Visit for more information and center hours.

About The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
Founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp provides “a different kind of healing” to more than 20,000 seriously ill children and family members annually – all completely free of charge. For many of these children and families, Hole in the Wall provides multiple Camp experiences throughout the year at the facility in Ashford, Conn., in more than 40 hospitals and clinics, directly in camper homes and communities, and through other outreach activities across the Northeast.
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