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Around Thanksgiving a few years ago in Chicago, a couple of men, good drinking buddies for a long time, realized that there was always a certain time of year during which they didn’t get to spend as much time together as they’d like. That time, as you may have already guessed, was the holiday season. Malevolent female influence was quickly identified as the source of this predicament. Almost immediately, it was decided that something had to be done. The two friends agreed that getting together at one of Chicago’s fine dining establishments and enjoying some of our creator’s greatest gifts to our gender was a good start. A date, Tuesday December 18, 2001, was chosen to convene at Mike Ditka’s Grill, and the decision was made to include a few friends, testicles mandatory. Select individuals, all real men, were informed of the event. Soon the organizers were deluged with requests for others to be invited, friends of friends. “Any friend of yours is a friend of ours”, was the response. After indulging in any number of cuts of beef, pork chops thick enough to be served upright, and our fill of drink and cigars, the fact was quickly realized that at no time was a meat and booze fix more needed than around the holidays. The event was a rousing success, the first “Man of the Year” was crowned, and all present agreed the Holiday Man Dinner would have to become an annual event.

A little less than a year later, the anticipation began to mount. Holiday Man Dinner veterans clamored for more booze-and-red-meat-fueled camaraderie. Those who could not attend the 2001 gala event anxiously waited, calendars in hand, for the announcement of the date for the 2nd annual Holiday Man Dinner. Scores of suggestions came in to the organizers; it seemed everyone had an opinion on the specifics in year two. To put it mildly, a powerful groundswell was building. Fogo de Chao, a gurgitationally splendid Brazilian churrascaria was chosen. Churrasco (shoo - rás - ko) has been a culinary tradition for more than three centuries in Rio Grande do Sul (Southern Brazil). In the olden days, “Gaúchos” (Southern Brazilian cowboys) pierced large pieces of meat and slowly roasted them over open flamed pits, while talking about their adventures on the plains. At Fogo de Chão, they have kept the Gaúcho tradition alive. Select cuts of meat are prepared over an open flame and served as they have been for centuries, preserving the individual tastes of each tender cut. The group met on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 at 6:30 p.m., kicking the evening off with a few caipirinhas in the cantina. Dan Pfeiffer was selected as “Man of the Year”, and a large variety of meats and beverages were enjoyed by all. The group retired to Harry’s Velvet Room for cigars, relaxation, cocktails, and merriment after the dinner.

What will happen next at this year’s Annual Holiday Man Dinner Gala? Time will tell, but rest assured the theme will remain the same: Life is hard enough gentlemen, especially during the holidays. Let’s take a little time for us.

 * A full account of the storied ManDinner history is also available here.