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Mike Bagale // Executive Chef @ Alinea // Chicago, IL
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January 19, 2018 09:02 AM PST
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Mike Bagale combines a unique mix of a broadly artistic mind with a calm, pragmatic, and practical approach to running a complex kitchen.

Mike’s artistic interests began in film school, attending Ryerson University in Toronto and the New York Film Academy. In 2002 his interest in cooking began when he enrolled at Florida Culinary in Palm Beach.

In 2004 he began working at the Four Seasons hotels and spent 4 years in their programs from Palm Beach, Washington D.C., and Miami, ending up as the Chef de Cuisine of the 5 Diamond Resort at the Palm Beach property. In 2009, after a successful 2-day tryout, he joined the team at Alinea as chef de partie.

His relentless drive and work ethic moved him quickly up the ladder at Alinea. He was a constant creative collaborator in the kitchen and was promoted to sous chef quickly in 2010. It was that year that he cracked the code to ‘floating food’ with the famous Balloon course. Mike was named Executive Chef of Alinea in 2012.

http://alinearestaurant.com/

https://www.instagram.com/mikebagale

Meaningful Work with Shawn Askinosie
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January 12, 2018 01:50 PM PST
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In 2005, Shawn Askinosie left a successful career as a criminal defense lawyer to start a bean to bar chocolate factory and never looked back.

Askinosie Chocolate is a small batch, award winning chocolate factory located in Springfield, Missouri, sourcing 100% of their beans directly from farmers. The only chocolate maker working directly with cocoa farmers on four continents, Shawn travels to regions of Ecuador, the Philippines and Tanzania to source cocoa beans for his chocolate. This allows the chocolate to be traced to the source and labeled authentic single origin. It also enables Askinosie Chocolate to profit share with the farmers, giving them a “Stake In the Outcome,” a principle he learned from author/entrepreneur Jack Stack.

Recently named by Forbes "One of the 25 Best Small Companies in America", Askinosie Chocolate has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, on Bloomberg, MSNBCand numerous other national and international media outlets.

The Askinosie Chocolate mission is to serve their farmers, their neighborhood, their customers and each other, sharing the Askinosie Chocolate experience by leaving the world a better place than they found it. The company is currently sustainably feeding over 1,600 students per day in Tanzania and the Philippines, without any donations. Founded at the forefront of the American craft chocolate revolution and regarded by many as a vanguard in the industry, Askinosie Chocolate sets the standard: they are one of the few chocolate makers in the world who press their own cocoa butter (to make their chocolate truly single origin) and the only American craft chocolate maker to produce a natural cocoa powder; they were the first American craft chocolate makers to create white chocolate, as well as a chocolate hazelnut spread (says The New York Times: “one spoonful of Askinosie’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and all memory of Nutella is gone”).

Shawn was named by O, The Oprah Magazine "One of 15 Guys Who Are Saving the World." They said, "Why we're fans: The philanthropically-minded chocolate entrepreneur aims to get students thinking about business ethics in a way that could have ripple effects for generations." For his efforts in "Advancing food standards... by creating social, economic, and environmental impact", Shawn was awarded Top Business Leader of the Year in 2013 by the Specialty Food Association. Shawn has been awarded honorary doctorates from University of Missouri-Columbia and Missouri State University. In 2015, Askinosie Chocolate was awarded a complimentary membership to the Clinton Global Initiative for the company’s social efforts around the world. Seth Godin, entrepreneur and author, recently praised the company's model: "[Shawn] has built a practice of creating a worthwhile luxury good that directly benefits people. Not sort of. Not a little. But directly.”

Askinosie Chocolate has received 3 Good Food Awards, considered to be the Oscars of food; 6 silver awards from the Specialty Food Association; and 7 International Chocolate Awards, including the Gold World Award for the Dark Chocolate + Licorice bar. The small team at Askinosie works directly with all of their retailers and sells their chocolate into specialty food stores, luxury boutiques, and high-end grocery chains throughout the US in nearly all fifty states and across the globe.

Shawn's book, recently released, co-written with his daughter Lawren, published by Penguin titled "Meaningful Work: The Quest To Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul" is an Amazon #1 New Release. Read Seth Godin's review of the book here. He is a Family Brother at Assumption Abbey, a Trappist monastery near Ava, Missouri and the co-founder of Lost & Found, a grief center serving children and families in Southwest Missouri.

https://www.askinosie.com/

Introducing Good True & Beautiful (Formerly known as Let The Music Play)
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January 12, 2018 01:38 PM PST
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The WHY behind our new name.

The Best of 2017
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January 05, 2018 06:32 PM PST
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A recap from many of our favorite interviews of 2017!

A Christmas Blessing
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December 22, 2017 02:38 PM PST
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Grace and peace...Ashton

Pilgrimage of a Soul with Phileena Heuertz
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December 15, 2017 12:17 PM PST
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Phileena Heuertz is an author, speaker, spiritual director, retreat guide and yoga instructor.

She is passionate about spirituality and making the world a better place. With a rare gift for communicating the dynamics of the spiritual journey, Phileena gracefully guides others toward personal growth, bringing harmony to the active and contemplative dimensions of life.

http://phileena.com/

A conversation with John Philip Newell
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December 08, 2017 01:45 PM PST
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John Philip Newell, the celebrated author of Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality, is one of the most prominent teachers of spirituality in the Western world.

In 2011 he received the first-ever Contemplative Voices Award from the Shalem Institute in Washington DC in recognition of his work in spirituality and peacemaking. His PhD is from the University of Edinburgh and he has authored over 15 books, including Christ of the Celts, Praying with the Earth, A New Harmony, and his most recent visionary title The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings.

A Conversation with Kyle Steed
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December 01, 2017 01:16 PM PST
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Transformation, identity, authenticity, change, perception, process, beauty, and time, these are the great mysteries that an artist seeks to dissect, understand, experience and somehow convey through their craft. When you experience the work of Kyle Steed this is precisely what happens...a universal truth within you is dissected, better understood, experienced, and conveyed. Known for his public mural works, Kyle always finds a way to change the space, the air, and the atmosphere of everywhere his work has a chance to be offered to the world.
www.KyleSteed.com

A Conversation with Yung Pueblo
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November 24, 2017 09:34 AM PST
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Meditator, writer, and speaker, Yung Pueblo, brings clarity and insight to the hidden things burried within the human experience.

The Chef Sessions with Hugo Ortega
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November 17, 2017 06:37 PM PST
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Hugo Ortega is executive chef/co-owner of four of Houston’s top restaurants – Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol and Xochi, and winner of Best Chef: Southwest at the prestigious 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards. (He was a finalist for the award for six consecutive years, 2012- 2017.) Ortega has been recognized locally, nationally and globally for his inspirational story and his passion for sharing traditional Mexican cooking and culture.

Ortega’s American Dream story started at Backstreet Cafe, a neighborhood bistro started by Tracy Vaught in 1983. He began his career in the restaurant business first as dishwasher and busboy and later as a line cook before graduating from culinary school and later becoming Backstreet’s executive chef. He and Vaught married, and together, they have created an award-winning Houston restaurant family that also includes Hugo’s and Caracol.

Ortega was born in Mexico City, the oldest of a family of eight children. At 15, he began working at one of several Procter & Gamble factories in Mexico to help support his family. In 1984, he immigrated to Houston with no contacts or job leads, but determined to make a life for himself in America. Slowly, step-by-step, Ortega began to set down roots in the bustling oil capitol. He shared an apartment with several friends, and followed up on leads for jobs in nearby restaurants. He was happy to find his first job, as a dishwasher, at a popular bar and nightclub. While the pay was meager, Ortega grabbed at the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the restaurant business and find contacts to help him improve his English.

Later, Ortega cleaned the floors in office buildings to supplement his income. With an unexpected turn of bad luck, his roommates moved to California and he lost both of his jobs. He had no income and no place to live. A friend asked Hugo if he wanted to wash dishes and Hugo jumped at the chance. The friend took Hugo to Backstreet Cafe, and this is where the turning point of his life happened.
Ortega worked hard, and showed an interest in working in the kitchen. In Mexico, he learned cooking from his mother and grandmother. Ortega was given a position on the line in the Backstreet kitchen, and he continue to advance from there. Impressed by his hard work and dedication, Vaught offered to enroll Ortega in the Culinary Arts program at Houston Community College. He jumped in with both feet.
Ortega graduated from HCC’s Culinary Arts program in November 1992 and assumed the role of chef at Backstreet Café, then executive chef in 1995.

Ortega is passionate about sharing the traditional foods and culture of his native Mexico with diners. In 2002, he opened the critically acclaimed Hugo’s, which brought Authentic Regional Mexican Cuisine to the forefront of dining. In 2013, the Ortega and Vaught opened their third concept, Caracol, a Mexican coastal kitchen highlighting the richness of seafood found along Mexico’s 16 coastal states; and in January 2017 they opened Xochi, which celebrates the flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico, in the new Marriot Marquis Houston Downtown.

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