4xForth: Joan Cinquegrani of Five Grain Events / by Clare Johnson

It's Friday, it's a beautiful day and it's time for another community 4xForth. Today, we're highlighting Joan Cinquegrani of Five Grain Events. As the owner and lead consultant at Five Grain, Joan effortlessly executes a wide range of events - from proposal planning to the big day (amongst many other services). With a background in non-profit work, Joan has a particular appreciation and knack for creating beautiful events on the tightest of budgets. Beyond her top-notch organizational skills, she's also a delightful dinner guest and Chicago enthusiast.

Read below and find out more about this incredible entrepreneur, planner and all-around wonderful person:

Place I frequent in Chicago: 

  1. Costco! Our favorite family outing. $1.50 hotdog/drink lunch special and so many opportunities for impulse buys. It's a blessing and a curse!
     
  2. Logan Square Farmers Market: We try and make it out to this almost every Sunday. It runs May-October outdoors. Lots of great fruit/vegetables but also prepared foods. My family and I go with a blanket, grab a couple tacos and horchata from the Cherub's booth and relax in the shade along Logan Blvd. 
     
  3. Gethsemane Garden Center: I am not a gardener but my mom is, so I have a lot of fun exploring the rows upon rows of different flower and plant options. Plug they have a fantastic gift shop. It's my mothers day go-to for a one stop shopping experience. 
     
  4. Humboldt Park: This giant park is so underutilized by most Chicagoans. They have a boathouse with lagoon (and new cafe!), formal gardens, lakes, baseball fields, playgrounds, and tons of green space. It's an oasis in the middle of the city and the perfect place for a walk, bike or run to get your green fix. 

Places I'll go someday:

  1. Milan: I did a study-abroad trip here and am dying to go back. My husband and I both own our own businesses so are thinking we might go live there for a few months in 2017. Trying to make plans to accomplish that!
     
  2. Hawaii: When I think of Paradise, I think of Hawaii. For some reason my travels have never lead me there but I'd love to go spend some extended time in Hawaii. 
     
  3. Alaska: Total opposite of Hawaii but I think experiencing the "wild" in Alaska would be a life-changing experience. 
     
  4. South America: It's a continent I haven't yet hit, and I would love to go experience the different cultures and see the sights. 

Best bites in Chicago: 

  1. Buona Terra: Seriously delicious and fresh Italian food.  If they have scallops on their daily menu you won't regret your choice.  Amazing bread with a garlic puree on every table.  Outstanding minestrone, and their Ravioli con vitello is superb.  I could go on...

  2. Taqueria Moran:  A local favorite--just down the block from where I live.  My faves on the menu are tostadas, their chicken and rice soup (big chunks of veggies, whole drumsticks, and a delicious broth), and chicken fajitas.  And margaritas for a special occasion!

  3. Lula Cafe: Everything on their menu is freshly prepared and so yummy.  A combination of very simple choices (turkey sandwich--add cheddar and bacon, thank me later) and more creative offerings.  They make a MEAN bloody mary if you are there for brunch, but go early if you don't want to wait in line.

  4. Osteria Langhe: This restaurant opened across the street from my office last summer and is a great addition to the neighborhood.  Delicious and light northern Italian fare and a nice wine list.

Favorite Podcasts: 

I don't have as much time to read as I would like, so podcasts have become my new "go to" for a little brain break while I do dishes or run around doing errands.

  1. Snap Judgment:  "Storytelling with a beat".  The stories on here are incredible--funny, scary, tear-jerking.  Each episode has a theme.  I just love hearing true stories (and sometimes fiction) about peoples' lives.

  2. The Longest Shortest Time:  This is a podcast about parenthood.  I had my second child just over a year ago and was thrown into mommy-hood in a way that I hadn't been with my first.  Colic, issues bottle feeding, the challenge of running a business with not one but two kids' needs nipping at my heels was overwhelming to say the least.  This podcast helped me hear other parents' stories and made me feel a little more settled with my current state of being.
     
  3. Invisibilia:  This show "explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions."  Very cool in-depth stories about how our lives are shaped by things around us.  Really cool!
     
  4. StoryCorps:  StoryCorps' mission is to help record audio from real people.  All the recordings are archived in the library of congress.  Looking for a cry?  You're pretty much guaranteed with these.  They are typically pretty short and capture snapshots of peoples' lives.

Thank you for sharing, Joan!

Your comments about the Logan Square Farmers Market have me missing summer already. Tacos, family and a picnic in the shade? What a beautiful family tradition! We applaud you for your tremendous ability to manage an incredibly successful business with family and life - a juggling act that many Forth members understand - and we wish you the best of luck in your Milan pursuits!

Follow and keep up with Joan on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.