Fame is a very funny thing. Some people become completely inaccessible and others remain totally unchanged. This was the feeling I had when famed actor George Wendt, best known for playing NORM! on Cheers and the ultimate Superfan on Saturday Night Live, and I bellied up to the bar at Trenchermen to talk with Executive Chef Pat Sheerin over food and beer for the inaugural podcast of "The Dinner Party To Go". Given Trenchermen's consistently solid food in a classic location -- it was previously an old Chicago bathhouse -- with a strong neighborhood following, there was no better place for me to take George while he was back in town.
For a man who has traveled the world performing on stage, been in countless movies and was on one of the most famous sitcoms ever created, George was surprisingly like the guy next door. Over the decades he has amazingly stayed true to his Chicago South side roots. Unassuming and almost quiet until I drew him out, it was a delight and joy to share some beers with him. Hesitant to steal the spotlight or overpower with his keen comedic sensibilities, George let Chef Pat take center stage until the two of them hit it off like long-lost pals. The second round of beers didn't hurt either.
As you will hear in the podcast below, over Pickled Tots, Octopus Posole, Burrata, Pork Ribs and beer, we discussed the Chicago Work Ethic, Chicago Hot Dogs, hot peppers vs. Giardiniera, words of advice for young actors and young chefs, favorite junk foods, George flunking out of Notre Dame, George's early years at Second City and much more. It just goes to show how food and drink really can bring people together, bring barriers down and create meaningful connection, even among strangers.