NWI - "Dating & Eating Together"

Relationship expert and dating coach Bela Gandhi, founder of Smart Dating Academy in Chicago, has definite ideas about sharing a meal with a suitor.

"Food and relationships in our culture go hand in hand," said Gandhi.

When going out to eat on a date, Gandhi suggests being "cool, fun and easy going."

"You should leave your inner CEO at the office," she said.

Individuals should "show grace and flexibility while having a meal," she added. Gandhi said men are "providers by nature" and want to know that "they've provided you with a good date experience." And that applies to any restaurant they choose to take you to as well.

"Let them know it was a good choice (if you liked the meal and the atmosphere)," she said.

Gandhi will take part in a special relationship program, "Ask Amy! Relationships 101: Finding and Keeping Your Soul Mate" at 7 p.m. April 12 at the Chase Auditorium, 10 S. Dearborn St., Chicago. Other experts on the panel will be Amy Dickinson and Shanae Hall. Tickets are $20 and include a reception, wine and food.FYI: (312) 222-3348.

Gandhi said when it comes to cooking dinner for a potential soul mate, one should wait until  the fourth or fifth date after you've built a connection.

"Find out what his favorite types of foods are and then fire up the stove," she said. "And you may want to try the recipes beforehand," she said, adding your aim is to have as less stress as possible. The recipes should also be  "low maintenance" so you're not fretting over the preparation.

Kudos to nutrition staff

The staff of Indiana University Health La Porte Hospital Food and Nutrition Services recently placed second at the Indiana Hoosier Association for Healthcare Foodservice culinary competition.

The team entered its Hidden Chicken Surprise with roasted vegetable pasta toss recipe in the contest held in Fishers, Ind. On the team were Diana Mebust, director of Food and Nutrition Services; Terri Faulkenburg, assistant director of FNS; and Peggy Patterson, senior chef.

Cheers to Brewfest

Don't forget today's big sampling event "Brewfest" at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City. The event runs from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Stardust Event Center. More than a dozen brews will be available for tasting. Tickets are $50 for VIP admission; $30 for regular admission and $15 for designated drivers. FYI:www.bluechipcasino.com

Gluten-Free Wine Dinner

Mity Nice, 835 N. Michigan Ave., at Water Tower Place, Chicago, will present a four-course gluten-free wine dinner at 6 p.m. April 12. Master sommelier Alpana Singh will preside over the event.

Executive chef Larry Donahue will prepare special gluten-free dishes to pair with select wines. Among dishes: seared ahi tuna on rice crackers with tamari ginger glaze; stacked wedge salad; grilled filet mignon or herb crusted halibut and mini cheese cakes with raspberry coulis. Tickets are $55. Reservations are required. FYI: (312) 335-4745

The opinions expressed are solely the writer's. Reach her at (219) 933-3365 or eloise.valadez@nwi.com.

*Original Article