April 16, 2013No Comments

Table XI: “Silicon Valley Work Culture in Chicago”

Fox32GoodDayChicagoWord of our office inner workings is getting around. Earlier this month, Fox 32 Chicago featured Table XI in two segments for their evening and morning news. Tisha Lewis stopped by our office to tour our standing work stations, grab a bite of Chef Aram's low fat (but delicious) lunch, and witness Josh conducting a meeting from a moving treadmill. The next morning, Josh paid a visit to Corey McPherrin of Good Day Chicago and spoke about how our office is "...a comfortable and easy place to come to work. We've got standing desks for people who want to stand; if you want to sit, you can sit. [It's] very open, there are no barriers to collaboration."

When asked about the practicalities of our culture, Josh pointed out that, due to our lighter lunches and ability to work in a flexible environment, we don't fall victim as much to the dreaded "afternoon slump," and stay productive the whole day through.

Of course, our daily trips to Starbucks help, too.

Watch both videos below:

March 13, 2013No Comments

5 Ways to Get Innovative: March Table Talks

Tomorrow is Table Talks time, which means we're gearing up another thought-provoking lunch at the Table XI office.

Each month we invite a small group of entrepreneurs, technologists, designers, and storytellers to present their ideas at our office. In honor of one of our clients (and to keep things moving quickly) we follow a PechaKucha style format: each speaker is limited to 20 slides, and the slides auto-advance every 20 seconds.

The theme of tomorrow's event is "Workplace Innovation," and we have a great lineup of presenters. We'll be joined by Dawn Hancock, Managing Director at Firebelly Design; Steve Christopher, Creative Director from Minimal; and Burton Rast, Interactive Designer at IDEO. We'll also be hearing from our CEO Josh Golden who will talk about "Process Hacks", and our office chef, Aram Reed, will talk about his culinary explorations.

Interested in grabbing a seat at the Table? We have room for two more. Email Kate Garmey at kate@tablexi.com for a spot, or to put your name on the guest list for the next Table Talks event which will be held April 18.

If you're not able to join us but are interested to hear what these speakers have to say, follow us on Twitter. We'll let you know when the presentations to go live on the newly-launched Table XI PechaKucha Channel.

Table Talks March Event Poster

January 22, 20131 Comment

Chef Aram: Reality STAR!

ChefAramTasteTable XI and Tinseltown are one degree closer. Our own Chef Aram Reed, who cooks us lunch everyday, will be appearing as one of the contestants on The Taste, ABC’s new cooking competition that premiers tonight at 8/7 pm Central. Though Aram can’t divulge too much about the show without risking the wrath of the ABC legal department, he did give us a little scoop about the wonders of reality television.

Give us a taste of The Taste. What’s this show all about?
The Taste is like a food version of The Voice, featuring four celebrity chef judges—Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Brian Malarkey—who pick teams from the contestants based on blind taste tests of their dishes.

How’d you get discovered?
A good friend of mine works in the industry, and she wanted to try out for the show at a Chicago audition, but she didn’t want to do it alone, so she asked me to go with her. So we went, and I got picked and she didn’t, which was hilarious.

So you launched your television career screwing someone over right off the bat. You learn fast!
Yep, right off the bat. That’s how we do it in “The Biz.”

Speaking of which, did you go into filming with your reality TV persona all planned out? “Brooding chef with an edge,” perhaps?
I was going for the asshole, of course. No, really I’m just honest, I don’t blow smoke, and that sometimes makes me the asshole. Really, I have no idea how I’ll be portrayed. I could be the asshole, the sweetheart... how about the heartthrob? I could go for that one, too.

Will we get a soundbite of you voicing that reality show classic: “I’m here to cook, not to make friends”?
You know, I think I heard someone say that at the airport when we first got there.

What was it like getting your food judged by these renowned chefs?
[For one of the challenges] everyone did seafood, except for me. I did a very Chicago dish with pork, because that’s what we eat here, and I wanted to showcase who I was and who I cook for. Bourdain and Ludo both understood my dish, which was very gratifying. They were the two I most wanted to impress. Ludo was very complimentary on my sauce—he recognized that it was French technique and said he really enjoyed it. And then Bourdain knew it was pork with bourbon and that it was Midwestern—he was just calling it. And remember, this is blind tasting, so he didn’t know me or where I’m from. First they discuss the dish, then they open the door and see the person who made it. So Bourdain was really cool and got my dish and that it was from Chicago.

What about the other contestants?
There were some really amazing professional chefs from across the country, and a lot of chefs from Chicago. Ina Pinkney from Ina’s, she’s been the “Breakfast Queen of Chicago” for over 30 years. She was there with me. Chef Brian Jupiter, Executive Chef at Frontier, he was also there. One of the sous chefs from Nellcôte. Then there were nonprofessionals, food bloggers and home chefs. For me it was like a fantasy camp for chefs, an all-expense paid trip to LA, to go hang out with a bunch of industry people, so that was really cool for me.

Can you take us behind the reality TV curtain?
It was really interesting walking onto a TV set. When we watch shows at home, there’s music, there are all these lights, there are graphics. When you go onto a TV set, none of this exists. It’s all CGI’d after the fact. Our set was in a giant airplane hangar, five football fields long. It’s where they built the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes’ plane. So in the middle of this gigantic hangar, which just goes on and on and on, there’s this little set with black curtains. And you walk in, and there are all these crappy robotics, and the kitchens weren’t developed properly because it’s the middle of the desert. People’s ovens would turn off randomly, equipment wasn’t set up properly. You could hear hammers banging in the background.

So, not too glamorous, then?
Ha, no, not glamorous at all. It wasn’t set up through the mind of a chef, it was set up through the mind of a TV producer. That to me was the most eye-opening, seeing how things were done, so I’m excited to see the finished product on television, once the magic has happened. And because it’s season 1, they were kind of working out the kinks, so I’m really interested to see what season 2 is going to look like down the road.

How are you going to capitalize on what will surely be household name status once this show airs? Celebrity fragrance? Your own reality show? Product placement in the TXI kitchen?
That’s all in the 5-year plan, definitely. My goal is to be on the CTA, and see someone reading the Red Eye with my picture on the back, you know, in the gossip section. And they’ll look at it, then at me, and recognize me. That’s how I’ll know I’ve made it.

That’s the big time, for sure. But until then, what’s next?
By the end of this year, I’m going to be opening a local grocery in Logan Square called The Tortoise and the Hare. It’s in the vein of Olivia’s or Goddess and the Grocer. We don’t have a place like this in Logan Square. We’ll offer prepared foods, maybe do some cooking demonstrations. And there’s Roam, which is a roaming underground dinner party that my friend Leslie Friebert and I put together. Every month we put on a dinner at a different location around Chicago. It’s for 30 people with five or six courses—the idea is to create an underground society of cool dining. We feature special guest chefs, craft cocktails, bands—it’s been a fun project. If people want to find out about the next Roam or get tickets, they should email roamsecretsociety@gmail.com.

Well, congrats on the show, Aram, and good luck with everything else. We can’t wait to see you in HD.

Thanks. The coolest thing has been hearing from people I haven’t talked to in years, who’ve seen The Taste trailer. Everyone's been very supportive.

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