Friday, June 5, 2009


(I apologize in advance for this somewhat incoherent entry, I literally learned at 10PM Thursday that I have to be in NYC Friday morning to pick up my credentials for the Towny Awards on Sunday, so there was a lot to do to prepare for the weekend in the Big Apple)

The first day we go to workout at Fusion Cross Training. Megan looks like what the hell did we get ourselves into?
Gavin goes over the drill with us. Gavin stresses to us that we can do it if we plan to exercise, eat right and rely on each other for support.

View more news videos at:

I think he wrote Thursday's blog entry with me in mind as my stinking thinking holds me back and I sometimes seem to sabotage myself.
This week as some of you may know, I screwed up on my food intake cutting back from my daily 3,000 calories to a more reasonable 1500 to 1800. Keeping a journal does make me more aware of what I am eating and did prevent me from really going overboard.I am a work in progress. For me just keeping track of my food makes me a winner, so often I don't want to look at my food intake. It's easier to not correlate brownie to hips, even though we all joke that we know that's exactly where it's going:
A few things to alter:
- drop 1 of those French vanilla creamers you don't need 2
- cheese should be a flavor enhancer topping to something healthier not a snack in itself (4 cheese sticks???, Canollis - are you kidding they have sooo many calories)
- Friday you didn't sleep at all and so look at the diet that followed - not 1 serving of vegetables that day when 79 are recommended
- Sunday looked pretty great, maybe just more lunch
- Mon/Tue - pretzels and diet coke for breakfast, that is not the breakfast of champions
Tues night - that burger without modifications, and those crab fries. (it's ok to have 1 cheat meal a week, but those two choices were like eating 5 cheat meals)

Note in this video where they did the spot interviews with everyone, especially me. It was a little comical. (My partner Mike laughs at me because for years I wouldn't tell him my weight, then I go on "national" TV and tell the world. To me it's just getting brutally honest because if I don't do something now health problems are just around the corner. It's easy to say I'll take care of them then, but since I see my sister going through the pain of cancer, while over weight, I know I can never tell the future)

My weight stayed the same, which is really disappointing, but also motivating. I know what I need to do, sleep, exercise, journal my food and I am also thinking of finding a program to address my food issues like weight watchers or Overeaters Annonymous.

Maybe someday I might even look like Gavin. My friend photographer Christopher Gabello just shot this of Gavin, owner of Fusion Fitness last week for a promo for The Sporting Club at the Bellevue. He is offering his popular bootcamp program there as well.
I love the two people who say to just cut down the food a little, if it were that simple we wouldn't have an obesity epidemic in our country. Fusion Cross Training is an excellent introduction to a serious workout program, and I have to say it's fun. I really enjoy it, and I get up at 5AM to do it. That really shocks my friends. I'm in NYC this weekend for the Tony Awards (eating while working as a celebrity photographer is a real challenge as we often wait for hours on the Red Carpet before the celebs even arrive, often the only food around to eat are from the vendors. So follow along on my Twitter account for all my celeb sightings, and my not eating of bagels, cream cheese and lox. Twitter: iphillychitchat

I photographed this Peregrine Falcon today sitting on the roof line of the Ritz-Carlton across the street from City Hall. Is it the male watching over his brood?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jimmy Contreras' dream to open a boutique is born - JIMMYSTYLE

Jimmy Contreras' dream to open a boutique is born -

Last week I was invited to my friend Jimmy Contreras' Media Party for his new store on the hippest Street in town of late East Passyunk Ave
Many times right before a store, restaurant etc opens the venue has a small party so the media & their friends could check the place out, thus explaining all the social cancellations that they might have put you through in the preceding months. Plus it's show and tell time, which panned out for them because I went back a few days later, when the cash register was operational, and racked up a bill in the triple digits, it wasn't because it was expensive, but because they have an eclectic mixed of stuff you just don't see anywhere else.
JimmyStyle carries an assortment that includes small furniture, candles, frames, gift items, mirrors, pillows, plates and vases, from names such as AREAWARE, Charles & Marie, Jonathan Adler, Naked D├ęcor, Vie Luxe, Votivo, Paddywax and Tribeca Candle.There will also be a chic Baby Corner, with clothing for infants and toddlers, toys and accessories from designers like the Appaman Collection, Kee-Ka Baby, Ooh La La Mama and Trumpette.
Where Magazine's Zelinda O'Hara stopped by to wish Jimmy well.
Daily Candy's Meredith Lindemon, Michael (Carlota Ttendant) Byrne, who just returned as the hostess with the moistness to Philly's Gay Bingo is next up to the mic on June 20 - Summer Lovin', had me a blast!, Where Publisher Laura Burkhardt and my guy Michael Toub

Naturally Nora Cake Mix (Vanilla, Yellow Cake, Yellow Cake w/ choco cookie stars and Chocolate Cake) (I bought a box or two a few days later)
Megan & Matthew Ray. Both of these youngsters are putting on the final touches for PHILADELPHIA QFEST 09.
The Philadelphia Inquirer Fashion/Style writer Elizabeth Wellington, Jimmy Contreras and the editor of the Style section of the Philadelphia Inquirer who's name was deleted in my phone when I dropped it

The wall of Love. Jimmy painted this himself!!Contreras’ background is fashion. He worked for Nicole Miller and Kimberly
Boutique, has appeared as a stylist on nationally-syndicated shows such as
Style Network's "The Look for Less," does lifestyle segments for Fox29 and
was a fixture at runway shows in New York City for the past six years. A
home store, he said, is part of the natural progression toward building an
entire lifestyle brand.
Fashionista's both Daily Candy's Meredith Lindemon and Philebrity's Joey Sweeney; A tip of the hat to Matthew Vlahos, who is not only Jimmy's partner, but his PR too, Time after time Matt has proven to be a force in this City as far as getting the word out about a new restaurant, product etc. Do a google search on and see the extent of his magic via all the placements. (he never let's me brag when I write about his clients, so I thought he would let me slide this time)
Project Runway Winner Jay McCarroll fits right in with his unique brand of style
Jimmy and Sarah Schaffer. Recently Sarah has assumed the role of editor in chief for Capitol File magazine, but will also remain in my post as editor in chief of Philadelphia Style. Last week Sarah moved to DC, a loss to Philadelphia, but a homecoming for Sarah as she grew up in the area. Good luck Sarah.

JimmyStyle also carries holiday cards by Philly “paparazzi” HughE Dillon (oh that's me) and soaps, scrubs and bath salts by Center City’s Duross + Langel Savonniers. Duross + Langel has formulated a signature scent for the store, and a large block will always be on hand for customers to cut off the size they need.The gift bags were rockin':
  • Duross & Langel Hand-Made soap w/ lip balm
  • Votivo Candles
  • Paddywax candles w/matches
  • Tribeca Co. Candles (Black & White collection)
  • Scarves by Aci Nae
  • Vintage Jewlery by Sixteen Hundred Below
  • Biscotti by Paradiso Restaurant
  • Biscotti & gift certificate by August Restaurant
Naturally Nora Cake Mix (Vanilla, Yellow Cake, Yellow Cake w/ choco cookie stars and Chocolate Cake) (I bought a box or two a few days later)
  • White Chocolate Wasabi Truffles by Izumi Restaurant
  • Scented Envelope Sachets by Sycamore Fig
  • Lucky Dog Renovations Magnets
  • Pileggi Boutique 10% gift card
Congratulations Jimmy, looks like dreams do come true:

1820 E. Passyunk Avenue, (267) 257-5582

Wednesday, June 3, 2009



This has to be one of the hardest blog entries I've had to write (originally written 6/1/09 TODAY'S ENTRIES ARE BELOW THIS ONE). I am used to covering other peoples lives, events and things happening in Philly. How did I get here, I often ask myself. No not how did I become the Philly Social Diarist/Paparazzi or any of my other identifying characters, but how did I get to be almost 300lbs.

I like food and although I would like to think I work out, I guess running after a celebrity or walking through the park with my camera can't really be considered "Fat Burning" no matter how heavy my camera might be. I wasn't an overnight success getting to this weight, it was a gradual trip through many Cheese steaks, Tastykakes and anything else that Jenny Craig wasn't offering.

Here I am 2nd from right at my sister Margaret's wedding in 1993
That great metabolism I had in my twenties disappeared in my 30's ( Mike & I 2001)
and I slowly ballooned to unbelievable widths. Although I exercised, I never learned to eat properly; I would go on the grapefruit diet, the cabbage diet, various programs etc but in the end put a piece of chocolate cake or pizza in front of me and it all went out the window.

(My sister Crista's Bacherlorette party 2005)

Recently I took a good look at myself in the mirror and admitted life was unbearable in this direction (plus I was tired of people calling me "big guy", "Hey big guy what's up?", "big guy you want fries with that?" and my favorite "Hey, big guy could I have a quarter?"

Last week a friend Twittered about the Fusion Cross Training Boot Camp program (with nutritional help). Fusion was also doing something along the lines of Philly's Biggest Loser Challenge with NBC10 available to a smaller group in the boot camp. I thought I like The Biggest Loser, but do I have to do that photo without my shirt? (Owner Gavin MacKay said no, thankfully) I knew this might be a good thing, one of my dearest friends has been telling me for the past couple years "Hughe you should apply to be on "The Biggest Loser". I wanted to be insulted, but I knew she was right. She told me that I could reach my goals, that it would force me to be more focused and most importantly maybe I could inspire others to do so too. Since that is the primary mission of PhillyChitChat to inspire and expose people to support the charities I cover, well how could I turn this down.
Although I may not live up to the segment which is called be "A 10 in 10 Weeks". I might convince you to put down that extra slice of toast with butter and jam, and that's OK. And although most of you probably don't need to lose 100lbs, there are three other people that might be more in line with your goals. Remember Nicole Michalik from The Biggest Loser season 4

She initially lost over 130lbs, but a few pounds crept their way back on. She's going to be part of the NBC10/Fusion Cross Training Challenge (Not contest, we are not competing). So if you were a fan, or you wanna follow someone who's been there before you'll want to tune in. The other participants are Megan Smith and Joe Matthews who I will write more about in the future.

One thing I was really surprised about was how aware I am now about what I eat. I went to the movies Saturday night and skipped the popcorn. That was big for me as I am a traditional eater, Turkey/Stuffing, Movies/Popcorn, Birthday/Cake.

So follow along as I shed the pounds towards a healthier me, and hopefully a healthier you.

Air Times below: Plus if you are my Facebook Friend at " Philly (space) ChitChat " you can see the funny, I mean inspiring commercial there. Below are the air times, reported on by Justin Pizzi. Now if it wasn't motivating enough to check me out at that hour, he should get you motivated.


6/3 - 6 - 7AM Show- intro of people how to follow along

@ Fusion fitness assessment links to track at home

weights/measures pkg #1


6/106 - 7AM Show #1 video fitness tip #1

@ gym how it works nutrition tip #1

initial weights/measures

pkg #2


6/17 - 6 - 7AM Show week #2 video fitness tip #2

rittenhouse profile person #1 nutrition tip #2

weights/measures after wk #1

pkg #3


6/24 - 6 - 7AM #3 video fitness tip #3

tba profile person #2 nutrition tip #3

weights/measures after wk #2

pkg #4


The Beers at Varga Bar. Business is good, bar manager Ian tells me he is going through at least 10 kegs each week. Menu Pages has a good summary of what to eat at the Varga Bar as well as the alcohol Content for the beers They also have carry out, but for the beers on tap you can take home in a Growler. Follow along on Twitter for the daily beer specials @VargaBarA Growler is a vessel in which to take home your micro brewed beverage. The name comes from the late 19th & early 20th century containers from the sound they used to make as the patrons took their fresh beverage home. You can take a half-gallon jug of your favorite draft home with you. The Growlers are $25, beer $20/$25 with refills at the same price.
A few weeks back I photographed the opening of Varga Bar, including one delicious looking burger. Since that time I have wandered back to the entry to lust after the big juicy burger that I photographed. As I embark on my biggest loser challenge I just had to get that burger out of my system, and last night I extinguished that desire that haunted me.

Faithful readers of my blog know that I have embarked on a 10 week quest to get in shape. Today was my weigh in day, and as the program allows one cheat eat meal, well Tuesday dinner was that meal. My friend Carrie Nork, of Cashman & Assocs. joined me for a dinner for two (Three really as she's almost 7 month pregnant) We started with the Crab Fries. OMG OMG I twittered and Facebook, then rethought it no I don't want anyone to find out, I will never get a prime table again and have to wait in line for it.

The Crab Fries were so unbelievably gooooood. Not only did Carrie love them, but her baby gave her the biggest kick to date. Everyone had smiles, even at other tables, with joy.
Then came my Kobe Beef Burger with gonzo cheese. Since I had the Crab Fries, I went with a side salad with my burger. (I only ate half the burger sans bun)
Carrie had the ham and cheese on toast. Remember the scene in "When Harry Met Sally", yes Carrie re-enacted it. She couldn't say enough adjectives for the sandwich and onion rings.
Just added to the Menu - Bread Pudding and homemade vanilla ice cream (in fact all their ice cream is homemade) I had to tied Carrie down while she bit into this baby. A professed Bread Pudding conisiuer, Carrie wanted to order the entire pot to eat for lunch everyday. It was really good, we both were glad that we didn't live closer to the Varga Bar because we'd be there everyday. Carrie loved the atmosphere of the place, the fact that the windows opened, and it was in a quaint neighborhood.
Service was just perfect, attentive but not overly so. As it was such a lovely day we were able to sit out on the terrace and enjoy the wonderful view. GM Kristan Delle stopped by our table to make sure everything was fine, and it was more than fine.

This Sunday Varga Bar Opens for Lunch: check out Tuesday's Philadelphia Magazine Restaurant Club e-newsletter for some great foodie gossip, and a chance to win gift certificates to lunch at Varga Bar!

941 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 627-5200

PS: I should not indulge in another burger for awhile; this morning my weight loss video was on NBC10 at 6:50AM and here for your enjoyment (warning NSFW as you will be laughing at the thought of me eating that burger when I shouldn't have):


It's summer, I love to eat al fresco, so I am a little obssessed with the notion especially since I read about it a few weeks back on the FooBooz site here So here are a two more to add to the list:

UNION TRUST recently started serving lunch and a lite bar menu in the evening al fresco. Customers are allowed to order off the regular menu, but when you are seated you will be provided with the bar menu which features lite meals and spirits. A little birdie tells me that Union Trust is creating a special slurpee/slushi drink to serve to their outside patrons.
Next door Chifa, the Jose Garces Peruvian-Cantonese restaurant, has also gotten into the spirit with al fresco dining. 10 seats outside – open for lunch and dinner (weather permitting) – and lunch and dinner menus both served outside.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Franklin Square was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin in 1825. Over the years, it has been used as a cattle pasture, a horse and cattle market, burial ground, magazine (storage) for ammunition powder, a drill and parade ground for the American military during the War of 1812.

In recent years, the square was pretty much a no man's land. Although located adjacent to the city's historic district, it was neither maintained nor renovated unlike much of Independence National Park.

Thankfully in 2006, a revamped and revitalized park opened to the public on July 31, after three years of work by "Once Upon a Nation" a division of Historic Philadelphia.

Last Thursday I attended:
"An Evening in Franklin Square"
The evening began at 5:30pm with cocktails by the fountain and a silent auction (I was at the 2nd Annual Utley All-Star Animals during that time), but made it over to the park by 8pm, where guests were enjoying a buffet dinner, along with a live auction, entertainment, and dancing.

I really love attending these types of events, as I love spending time with the ambassadors of the City and dream one day of being a part of their ranks. Many of the following folks are the people that tend to the tourist of our City, they create tourism.

Andi Coyle ( a story contributor to the book Patriots, Pirates, Heros & Spies book. I covered the launch last year.), Joyce Levitt, Jeff Guaracino (Who is thinking about writing his next book) and Laura Burkhardt, the Publisher of Where Magazine.
Amy Needle heads Once Upon a Nation, which includes the Franklin Square attraction and the storytelling benches throughout the historic district. Last year she was promoted to president and CEO of Historic Philadelphia Inc., parent organization for both Once Upon a Nation and the Betsy Ross House; with her is Cari Feiler Bender, a spokeswoman for Historic Philadelphia Inc. (nice summer colors)
Andrew Davidson and KYW Newsradio 1060's Hadas Kuznits (Who I read in Dan Gross' column yesterday, will judge the Golden Slipper's Hava NaGrilla Kosher BBQ contest at Willow Grove Day Camp on Sunday. The event to promote Jewish culture raises money for Golden Slipper, which helps pay to send underprivileged children to summer camp.)

AJ, Margaret Hughes, Deputy City Representative and Melanie Johnson, Executive Director of Philadelphia City Representative office.

Amy Malissa and Josh Hersz
Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you
Yes, I've been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
Why, why did I ever let you go?
Mamma mia, now I really know,
My my, I could never let you go.
(Two guests belting it out along with the band)
Mrs. Richard Deats, Wayne Spilove, Board Chair, HPI and Richard Deats, Vice President, Phillies Enterprises
The brand new Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel is one of the highlights of Franklin Square. A ride on the Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel costs $3 for adults, $2 for children (3-12)and is free for children under 2.
Albert Lee, head concierge, Independence Visitor Center, this kid is going to be Mayor someday if not the City's head concierge. Here he is on the left back in 1986, when he was 7yrs old. He's got a fun blog too
For years this gigantic sand sculpture was erected at the Shops of Liberty One. Now it's found a more appropriate home here at the park. It usually has a patriotic or sports theme. This year it's all about the Phillies. (Although from this angle it looks like Huckleberry hound, I believe that's the Phillies Phanatic. I'd have to go back and verify that.)
Philly Mini Golf is one of the big highlights of Franklin Square. Children and adults can enjoy this uniquely-designed 18-hole Philadelphia-themed course where you putt through favorite local icons including Elfreth's Alley, Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia Museum of Art with the Rocky Steps (Which the golf attendants tell me they often have to chase people off of as they want their photograph taken on the "Rocky Steps"), The Sound of Philadelphia music, LOVE statue, Chinatown Friendship Gate, and on the 18th hole, putt through the crack in the Liberty Bell (People are constantly hitting it with the clubs to see if it rings, it's plaster it doesn't ring) and land in front of Independence Hall.
FEES: $8 for adults, $6 for children (3-12), and free for children under 2

There's something wrong with the 9th hole, do you know what it is?

I was so excited to see the Club House's gift shop with all it's fun possibilities. You can pick up safe horse shoes, kick balls, bubble machines, wiffle bats and flying disc (you can't say Frisbee the attendant tells me as that is a trademark brand) There were a lot of fun games to purchase even Chinese Checkers. So bring the kids leave the games and home and pick up some new ones. There are also plenty of picnic tables and areas to play.Two age-appropriate playgrounds have added for the benefit of residents, area day care centers, and visitors to the Square. One playground is for kids ages 2 - 5, with sea saws, sliding board, swings and a playhouse.

The second playground, is designed for ages 5-12, has a play set and swings.

BREAKING NEWS, well actually Michael Klein broke some of the news in his 4/1/09 column that Starr to open a burger shack in Franklin Square (building in the center)I was planning to go back during the day to get a shot of the Golf Rental Building as the Starr Food Stand will look very similar. The tipster told me to make sure my readers knew it's not a restaurant but a food stand. No tables will be inside, but picnic tables will surround the area for your enjoyment. The breaking news is the Starr Burger Shack will be opening on July 4, 2009 at this spot; No name for the burger stand has been announced yet. You don't have to wait until Independence Day to try a Burger, as there is a temporary burger cart set up there daily.Franklin Park is also a great place to hold children's birthday parties: