‘Windy City Weekend’: Chef Mario Manfredini cooks recipe inspired by Italian American Heritage Month

By Chicago 9 Min Read

CHICAGO (WLS) — This week on Windy City Weekend, while Ryan’s out of town Val is joined by two special guests: WGCI radio host, Leon Rogers along with comedian and trans activist, Flame Monroe for Host Chat!

Flame Monroe is back in town!:

Flame is an explosive and inspiring talent hailing from Chicago.

With more than two decades honing the art of female impersonator in clubs starting in the Windy City and now across the country under her wig, the most challenging role has been that of single parent to three academically gifted and creative children; Flame describes it as AM Dad/PM Drag!

Flame’s dynamic sense of style, flair, and storytelling earned her a featured spot in Tiffany Haddish Presents: “They Ready” stand-up comedy series on Netflix.

Produced by Flame, Tiffany Haddish, Wanda Sykes and Page Hurwitz, the comedy special remains among the top streamed shows on Netflix since its premiere in August 2019 and her episode received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Director for a Variety series.

Flame has appeared on Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam on HBO and host D.L. Hughley, BET’s Comic View with J.B Smoove, Cedric the Entertainer and Sommore and, most recently, the #1 rated syndicated urban radio show in the U.S., The Breakfast Club – Power 105.1.

And you can catch her on stage this weekend with Dave Chapelle at the United Center.

Alessi in the Kitchen:

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We’re back in the kitchen with Chef Mario Manfredini.

He’s teaching us how to make a hearty chicken and gnocchi soup, delicious Italian pork cutlets Milanese, and for dessert, chocolate chip, orange cannoli dip.

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup


16 ounce Alessi Potato Gnocchi

28 ounce Alessi Crushed Italian Tomatoes

3 tablespoons Alessi Pesto

1 bunch of Fresh Tuscan Kale, cleaned and chopped coarsely

32 ounce prepared Chicken Stock

1 rotisserie Chicken, shred the breast meat

Grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano Cheese to taste


1. Rinse and dry kale, removing thick stems, then chop coarsely and set aside. Strain tomatoes and reserve liquid.

2. In a large Dutch oven heat 1 tbsp. of pesto until it becomes aromatic, then add drained tomatoes, stir and cook approximately 5 minutes as tomatoes become tender and brown, press tomato mixture into pot until fond begins to form in pan.

3. Stir in the chicken stock and reserved tomato liquid, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to lift up fond.

4. Stir kale into soup allowing it to become tender and wilted, approximately 10 minutes. While kale cooks begin to shred chicken breasts.

5. Add Gnocchi to broth until heated through and floating, approximately 5 minutes.

6. Stir in Chicken and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes, add two more tablespoons of pesto to round out the flavor.

7. Serve with grated cheese.

You can purchase all of these ingredients and more by visiting and supporting your local Jewel Osco.

You can visit Jewel Osco here and follow them on all social platforms @jewelosco.

You can find more Alessi products and recipes by visiting the Alessi website and their socials @AlessiFoods.

Chicago Cubs – Bleacher Preacher:

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Major League Baseball’s postseason started this week and once again, the two MLB teams in Chicago aren’t represented.

But don’t blame Jerry Pritikin for that. He did his part by making his usual multiple appearances at Wrigley Field this summer, rooting on the Cubs as he has done for the past 80 years.

“Its disappointing; I thought we had a dynasty starting in 2016,” Pritikin said about the Cubs September collapse this year, which left them out of the playoffs. “But this year wasn’t that bad. I remember Opening Day 1980; I saw some fans holding up signs in the bleachers saying ‘Wait Until Next Year! And they started holding up those signs in the first inning! Turns out, they were right — the Cubs lost 98 games that year.”

Pritikin, now 86, has done much of his cheering for the Cubs in character as “The Bleacher Preacher,” one of the most beloved denizens of the Wrigley Field scene over the past four decades.

He’s often present in the left field bleachers, wearing his trademark white jersey with the name “Bleacher Preacher” on the front, and a pith helmet topped with a beanie-style propeller, which random fans will occasionally spin, much to Pritikin’s delight.

Harry Caray, the legendary announcer for Cubs, White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals games, once called Pritikin “the world’s greatest Cubs fan.”

Pritikin is still routinely recognized by longtime Cubs fans when he takes in a game at Wrigley.

“You should root for no other team but the Cubs while you’re in the bleachers,” Pritikin will tell younger fans who are in the stands with him.

He quickly became a national phenomenon, with the Wall Street Journal publishing a major piece about him in the late 1980s.

Topps even issued a “Bleacher Preacher” baseball card featuring Pritikin in full costume.

In 2014, thirty years after he created the “Bleacher Preacher” character, Pritikin was honored by the Baseball Reliquary, a not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to baseball history.

That group gave Pritikin its Hilda Award, which recognizes distinguished service by fans.

It’s named after Hilda Chester, the longtime Brooklyn Dodgers fan who was a staple at Ebbets Field.

“I’m so proud of that honor,” Pritikin said.

Roeper’s Reviews: Spend or Save?:

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“The Exorcist: Believer” – SAVE

“The Exorcist: Believer” is the sixth movie in “The Exorcist” franchise. It stars Leslie Odam Jr. as a single father whose daughter is possessed by an evil spirit that unleashes a chain of demonic events.

“She Came to Me” – SAVE

Starring Peter Dinklage, Anna Hathaway and Marisa Tomei, “She Came to Me” is a romantic comedy about a composer who sets out to search for inspiration to overcome his creative block.

“The Road Dog” – SPEND

“The Road Dog” is about an alcoholic comedian who gets a second chance at life when he reconnects with the son he’s never known.

“The Royal Hotel” – SPEND

“The Royal Hotel” is an unexpected thriller about two American young women who begin working in a small town bar in Australia, only to find themselves trapped in an unnerving situation that quickly gets out of hand.


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ABC7 Chicago is celebrating the city’s vibrant Italian American community with its broadcast of the 70th Annual Columbus Day Parade.

Ryan Chiaverini, Liz Nagy and Greg Dutra will be reporting on all the festivities from the street.

Pasquale D. Gianni, attorney and Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans officer, will contribute colorful commentary from the broadcast area.

The parade airs Monday, Oct. 9, from Noon to 2 p.m. and will have an encore broadcast on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 11 p.m. Both broadcasts will be available on abc7chicago.com and ABC7’s connected TV apps.

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