HEIJI CHOY BLACK As the former owner and creative director of the revered Wicker Park boutique Hejfina, Heiji Choy Black spent five years—from 2004 to 2009—sifting through the latest in global design, gathering pieces that would speak to style-minded Chicagoans. As the new contributing editor for the magazine’s Style section, Black will focus as much on filtering local and wide-reaching trends as highlighting the way Chicago interprets them. “It isn’t such a leap from what I was doing at Hejfina,” Black says. “Only now I have the opportunity to show the way artists, designers, and other people in Chicago incorporate these things in their own lives.”
PENNY POLLACK and JEFF RUBY As they vetted newcomers to the restaurant scene in Chicago and the suburbs for “Best New Restaurants,” Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby had several run-ins with the uncommon (starting with a mustard-flavored Dutch concoction called zaansemosterdsoep). White tablecloths, on the other hand, were a rare sight. “The pretension’s gone,” says Pollack, Chicago’s dining editor. “Without it, we can get down to whether the food’s really good.” Casual reigns at the bistros, gastropubs, and other unfussy spots that rose to the top of Pollack and Ruby’s list of 22 places to try this minute. “Chefs are excited not to do the upscale, stuffy thing,” says Ruby, Chicago’s chief dining critic, adding that diners “can wear jeans anywhere—though we probably said that last year.” The search is on for next year’s contenders, and both critics are still undercover. Ruby’s internal battle over anonymity plays out in Outer Drive, and Pollack is sharing pics of recent bites at chicagomag.com/whatpennyeats.
CHRIS STRONG The photographer Chris Strong wanted his portrait of Matthew Metzger—a painter, featured in “Double Take” in Arena, who plays with trompe l’oeil effects—to have an abstract quality. “Matthew talks about an oscillation in the viewer’s mind between the real and the illusionary,” Strong says. “I wanted to do something that had two spaces in one space—the foreground and the background on one plane.” Strong, whose work has appeared in Time, Inc., and Esquire, among other magazines, spent the last two winters in southern Wisconsin shooting a short film about an ice fisherman. Now that the lakes have thawed, he is turning his camera on other Midwestern waterways for a project on the Asian carp invasion.
JONATHAN BLACK The entrepreneur Howard Tullman outpaces both man and machine, says Jonathan Black, who profiles Tullman—the unflagging force behind Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy—for “Mr. Nonstop.” “Even my tape recorder couldn’t catch everything,” Black says. “Howard’s brain seems to go at several times normal speed.” Black (no relation to Heiji Choy Black), a former managing editor of Playboy, has penned travel features for The New York Times, Travel Weekly, and the Chicago Tribune. For the Tribune, he recently toured the national parks of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana, which are, he says, “about as far from Flashpoint as one could get.”
Photography: (Choy Black) Megan Lovejoy; (Strong) courtesy of Chris Strong; (Black) courtesy of Jonathan Black