Adios 2013! My Crazy Year in Review...

2013 was probably the most game changing and interesting year of my life.  There certainly was never a dull month, let alone a dull moment.  For those of you who have not followed all of the crazy shenanigans, here is a recap.  For those of you who have, well, here are some things I've learned and some (probably not) useful tips.

January- I actually got paid to have the most fun I've ever had! Best job ever= being flown to Cancun in the dead of winter to star in the mega-hit Florida Georgia Line music video, Get Your Shine On.  Yes, yes, at times it was "hard" work: Constant hair and make-up touch-ups is quite strenuous.  And having to pretend it's hot on the beach while it's only 65 degrees and you're in a bikini is no day at the beach either... wait, scratch that.  Please do not get me started on how awful it was to have to "pretend" that Brian Kelley was cute and that I didn't mind our smooch on the beach, or how boring it was to fly across the ocean on a waverunner with him.  Alright, I'll stop the pity party.  Useful Tip(s): Make sure that next time you're asked to be in a music video, in a bikini, that you didn't just spend the last 7 days road tripping though Tennessee and Texas eating BBQ brisket and ribs every day.  See full blog here

March- Oh how I ate... I probably ate at about 5 different restaurants each week.. and not all in River North!! I also concert hopped quite a bit... country, rock, reggae and and many different venues such as Joe's Bar, Underground Wonder Bar, The Metro, The Vic, etc.  I also added to the tattoo collection, although that happens almost every month... Useful Tip- Always plan just a little bit before you get a tattoo.  Spontaneity is great, but you MAY pay the price. (not that I regret any of mine, just trying to be helpful ;) )

May- The Rolling Stones:  I HATE the overuse of the word "epic".  It's one of my 753 pet peeves.  Its definition denotes something grandiose and monumental, not something that's just kinda cool.  That being said, seeing the Rolling Stones in concert at United Center was EPIC!  It was one of those dreams you tuck away because you think it'll never come true.... well it did.  The Stones, arguably the greatest band of all time,  put on a show like no other.  I was blown away by not only their musicality and mesmerized by the guitar stylings of Richards and Wood, but shocked that after literally 50 years, they can still wail and bring down the house. The icing on the cake of course, was the following night at Studio Paris.  Mick Jagger LITERALLY sat down right next to me, called me darling, and poured me some champagne.  Sweetest bubbles I've ever tasted.  Useful tip: Next time you meet Mick Jagger, try NOT to wear a Def Leppard rocker t-shirt with the British flag on it.  You WILL get a strange look.  See full blog here

July- Filming Food Junkie! Even though we started shooting episodes of my show, Food Junkie: Chicago, in May: July was my favorite episode to date.  Southern Food in Chicago! We all know that even though I'm definitely a city girl,  a part of my heart feels right at home with everything "country".  Food is no exception.  Being able to film my show at the Windy City Smokeout, right in River North, was a merger of two of my favorite things: BBQ and Country Music.  Not only did I get to shove my face full of the country's best and smokiest BBQ while on camera, but I had the priveledge of interviewing some world class chefs (Doug Psaltis) and some of my favorite country artists (Tyler Farr, Chase Rice).  Useful tip: When conducting on camera interviews with notable people, it's best to not be so full you can barely stand up.  See full blog here

August: Neta in New York City.  This was my favorite dining experience of the year.  Recommended to me by my restaurant guru friend, Nick Kokonas, this truly was the epitome of sushi perfection.  Maybe it was the fact that I was with my best friend of 22 years, Jamie Downes, maybe it was because our Japansese server made us laugh so hard we could barely eat, or possibly because at what at first seemed to be a "fancy" venue, Biggie, Tupac, and Beastie Boys, were booming through the speakers.  Whatever the reason, it was incredible.  Lesson learned: ALWAYS order Omakase and DO NOT be scared of Fugu, regardless of what happened to Homer Simpson. see full blog here

November: This was probably my favorite month of the year. I was named Racked and Eater's "Fashion Foodie", I had an online feature in Michigan Avenue Magazine called "Kelly Rizzo's River North", I was LIVE on Fox Good Day Chicago...twice.  I also traveled to Los Angeles with my sister, Kimberly, to attend the screening of the award wining documentary, Give Me Shelter, directed by my sister, Kristin Rizzo and produced by my dear friend, Katie Cleary.  This was surreal as getting to experience such a groundbreaking film which was directed by my sister was incredibly emotional.  The film has made a huge impact on my life and the way I will look at and treat animals forever.  I also couldn't go to LA without experiencing some bad-ass dining.  Connie and Ted's Seafood, Malibu Seafood, and of course In-N-Out Burger to name a few... (no one should be surprised at this).

And now we all begin a new year together.  I am beyond pumped for everything that 2014 will reveal... bring on the food, travel, music and happiness!  I hope you'll join me in my upcoming adventures, Buon Anno a tutti!