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Gay baker makes great impression
DISH Weekly Dining Guide in Windy City Times
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

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Sean Whittington got his first true taste of cooking while attending Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

He chose food science as a career path, which was a two-year program at the South Side school. As a junior, the focus was the science of cooking, the science of food, sort of a chemistry class. As a senior, it was more cooking and baking. In fact, the school actually ran a business, known as Just Another Bakery.

"That's where I found my niche, where I realized that, yes, I like this," said Whittington, now 26 and living in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood.

Whittington's passion for sweets is turning into his profession, slowly.

He is the owner of First Impressions Cheesecakes & Truffles, meshing his talents with others' taste buds.

First Impressions offers a variety of cheesecakes, cupcakes, truffles, and cookies for every occasion, with numerous flavors such as vanilla bean, strawberry, cherry, blueberry and lemon.

The white chocolate raspberry swirl is the most popular cheesecake, along with the Oreo cookies n' cream.

"I'm putting my full effort into the business," said the openly gay Whittington, who was born in Milwaukee and has been living in Chicago since 1989.

First Impressions was conceived two years ago and officially opened last year. His clientele, since the business is now run out of his southside home, comes from Facebook, referrals, co-workers and elsewhere.

"Things are going pretty well. I like the direction the company is going," said Whittington, who works in security and at the front desk of a downtown apartment building.

Whittington received his food-sanitation certification last summer, and soon plans to launch a website and form an LLC.

In 2013, he plans to open his first café-style bakery, open to the public, probably in Hyde Park and/or Bronzeville—and eventually expand nationally.

First Impressions cupcakes were sent by the Youth Pride Center to select donors last summer. "That was fun and, from that, I realized that I could do this long-term and not get tired or bored," Whittington said.

"I do expect to take this business to great levels, one day."

See "First Impressions Cheesecakes & Truffles" on Facebook.

Dining news


—Pennsylvania-based Bookbinder Specialties recently added four new flavors to its line of gourmet, ready-to-serve soups packaged in 15 oz., resealable glass jars. The first four flavors in this line, which were introduced last year, recently received a gold medal in the 2011-2012 Gourmet Product Awards. The new flavors are Irish potato-leek soup, Cuban black bean soup, Tuscan minestrone soup and Sicilian tomato-zucchini bisque. See .

—Chicago Cut Steakhouse, 300 N. LaSalle St., has unveiled a late-night dinner menu. Items include Chicago Cut Steakhouse prime beef burgers ($12), prime beef sliders ($10), the sushi trio ($18) and lollipop lamb chops ($16). The restaurant is open until 2 a.m. seven days a week; see .

—onesixtyblue—the restaurantonce partly owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan—has closed, but will re-emerge with a new concept, the Chicago Tribune reported. The restaurant, on West Randolph Street, will undergo renovations while it is closed, and the new concept is scheduled to start in the spring.

—Music/wine impresario Michael Dorf has announced the purchase of a 30,000-square-foot property in the heart of Chicago's West Loop to open the first offshoot of his City Winery New York location. City Winery Chicago—a fully operational winery, restaurant with outdoor patio, concert hall, and private event space—is scheduled to open at 1200 W. Randolph St. this summer.

—Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, 1028 N. Rush St., will hold the first installment of its 2012 Sommelier Dinner Series with an exclusive dinner hosted by Gina Voci Wed., Jan. 25. The dinner features wines from Opus One Winery and courses prepared by Executive Chef Daniel Huebschmann. The reception is at 6:30 p.m., with the dinner starting at 7 p.m. The cost is $150 each; call Britt at 312-587-0508 or visit—Wine-Dinner_p_44.html.

— Frontier, 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., invites Chicagoans to enjoy their new specials. Specials will include Odd-Bit Mondays, featuring a rotating dinner special created by Pioneer Tavern Group Corporate Chef Brian Jupiter. Additionally, guests can enjoy the Wednesday "Hunter's Special" where they will receive 25% off the "hunted" section of the menu and $4 select craft beer cans including Big Sky Brewing Company's Moose Drool and Trout Slayer.

—President Bill Clinton will address attendees at the 2012 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show May 6 at Chicago's McCormick Place. Clinton will share insights into his presidency and his current work with the William J. Clinton Foundation. The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals.

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