All posts by olivialee2020

What I’ve learned: Sarah Hay

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

At 32 years old, Sarah Hay has become an accomplished ballerina and actress. As a child, she danced at the prestigious School of American Ballet. She later trained at American Ballet Theatre, and at the age of 22, she joined the Semperoper Ballett in Germany. In 2010, she made her acting debut as one of the corps de ballet members in the movie, “Black Swan.” Six years later, she was nominated for a Golden Globe, Satellite Award and Critics’ Choice Television Award for her role as Claire Robbins in the Starz mini-series “Flesh and Bone.”

Today, Hay is still dancing, but not professionally. Rather she’s dancing for the joy and the happiness it gives her. She’s currently living in Los Angeles, where she’s also developing her own films and working on TV projects. Hay shares a few things she’s learned since her early years and start of her professional career.
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Kitchens are cooking up a recipe for mental illness

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

It’s Saturday evening, and the tables are set. Servers are dressed in their finest suits. Chef Ryan McCaskey, owner of Acadia, a two-star Michelin restaurant, and his staff have spent all day prepping for tonight’s service. Every little detail has been planned out. Guests are greeted with a welcome drink, something to warm them up in the Chicago cold. Tonight, it’s a warm apple toddy, fused with thyme and brown butter. They sip while walking down the hallway from the entrance to the dining room.

“I literally timed how much liquid was in the cup and how long it takes to go from one point to the next, and by the time they sit down, where they are in that drink. They should be done with whatever is in that cup. Then service begins,” said McCaskey. He labeled this type of mentality as the “artist brain.” “It’s a creative mind that is searching for something that is close to perfection, but is not always attainable,” he explained.

Marissa Doctor, physician and leader of a local mental health support group for individuals in the service industry, described how this way of thinking can lead to depression, anxiety and substance-use disorders. “It’s horrific for mental health because you’re trying to obtain a goal that’s impossible. And it’s not like a goal over a long period of time, it’s a goal every day you step through the door,” she said.

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No more undercover food critics

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

It’s 2006 and Jeff Ruby, food critic for Chicago magazine, is being interviewed by the History Channel. In attempts to keep an undercover profile, like most food critics do, Ruby shaves his beard for the first time in 10 years and dyes his natural red hair jet black. To make himself even more unrecognizable, he decides to wear a baseball cap and glasses. Over a decade later, Ruby says the History Channel still airs his segment periodically, usually late at night. Despite his elaborate efforts, he almost always gets a text from a friend suspecting it’s him.

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Where are they now: Catching up with former Olympic figure skater Rachael Flatt

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

In early 2014, Olympic figure skater Rachael Flatt sat in her hotel lobby in Boston. She was surrounded by friends, family and former competitors, all scarfing down cannoli from one of Flatt’s favorite little hot spots in the city, Mike’s Pastry. With glasses of champagne raised, they toasted to Flatt, her final performance at the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships and her retirement.

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Make room at the table: How a local restaurateur is helping to transform the culture of professional kitchens

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

On “Restaurant Row,” also known as Randolph Street, diners spend their savings on an unforgettable gastronomic experience. Just two blocks away, on the quieter Madison Street, lies a stationery store owned by a mother and daughter, a small used bookstore that smells of dusty paper and glue, and a restaurant, MAD Social, that celebrated its fourth anniversary in February.

There, a sprightly hostess brings guests to their tables and, just like clockwork, a server appears and offers water. During meals, busboys “manicure” rustic brown tables and replace used plates with fresh ones. Food runners, servers and bartenders work separately toward a common goal: to provide a memorable meal and exceptional service. Amid the organized chaos, a woman stands dressed in black from head to toe with her black hair tightly pulled back. She strides across the dining room as she brings guests to a table. Then, she scurries into the kitchen and reappears with a perfectly mounted Brussels sprouts salad and a sizzling burger with oozing cheddar cheese melting down the sides. Later, she’s clearing tables. She does all this while checking in with guests, making sure their steaks are prepared medium rare and their pasta is cooked al dente. Meet 35-year-old Gina Stefani, owner and manager of the new American gastropub, MAD Social.

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The do’s and dont’s of moving: How to save your stuff and your sanity when relocating

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

Whether your move is around the corner or across the country, relocating can be difficult and many unforeseen hiccups can arise. Here are some tips and tricks to help prepare you for the undertaking and lighten your load.

Packing advice

    1. For all of your belongings, Expert Movers, a professional moving service company, suggests you label each box with a number. Then, create a spreadsheet that indicates the corresponding contents of the box.
    2. Cover breakable items, such as dishes in bubble wrap. Make sure items don’t touch by using packing peanuts or paper as a divider.
    3. Use special boxes for other breakable items, such as picture frames or television screens. Wrap items in bubble wrap and place in cartons specifically made for large frames and television screens. This will prevent them from moving around and potentially cracking.
    4. Make sure lids are tightly sealed on food containers. To prevent leaks, place each item in a plastic bag before putting them in a box.
    5. Put liquid items, such as cooking oils and wine, in wine boxes. Visit your local liquor store and ask for extra wine boxes. It’s an easy way to prevent breakage without wrapping items individually. 
    6. Disperse heavy  items, such as files or textbooks,  across several boxes. Place these items at the bottom of the box and put lighter items, like office supplies, on top. Then no one box will be too heavy to move.
    7. Buy wardrobe boxes for clothes and shoes. Clothes can be easily hung and shoes can be easily stored in shoeboxes at the bottom of the box.
    8. Pack valuable items, such as expensive shoes and purses,  in plastic containers that allow for locked closure. This will prevent potential for theft.

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Joffrey ballerina Olivia Tang-Mifsud talks about ballet and the 2020 season

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

After over 30 performances of “The Nutcracker,” the Joffrey Ballet’s 46 dancers, including Olivia Tang-Mifsud, 23, of Palos Verdes, California, are learning new choreography. Following rehearsal, Tang-Mifsud traded her black leotard and tights for jeans and a white sweater. She sat with perfect posture in the lobby and talked about her four-year career with the company, the spring season – and a big change for the Joffrey Ballet and its audiences next year.

You started dancing in preschool and decided to do it professionally after high school. What drew you to ballet?

It’s a way of expressing myself, and I also see it as a stress reliever in a sense. When I’m dancing my mind isn’t anywhere else. I’m so focused on what I’m doing, and there’s a freedom in that. Then of course when I’m on stage, I love it. One of my favorite things is to see people’s faces. If they were able to personally relate or if they had their mind distracted from their everyday or if they just enjoyed themselves for an hour, then that’s all I can ask for.

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