Brent Engelberg

 May/June 2009
By Rachel Azark

Meet Froggy's favorite dentist

There were two reasons why Brent Engelberg decided to fill out the online Check, Please! form to review his favorite restaurant, Froggy’s French Café in Highwood. The first was that Dr. Engelberg, a 2003 graduate of Indiana University School of Dentistry, and his wife had been watching the show frequently and were fans. The second was that they had been to Froggy’s five or six times in about five weeks.

“It has great food and great service. It is a place that definitely deserved to be on the show,” said Dr. Engelberg.

Brent EngelbergCheck, Please!, a show that airs on Chicago’s own WTTW, promotes a variety of food through the diverse culture of restaurants that Chicago has to offer. The show is unique in that each Friday night three different Chicago area residents who have recommended their favorite restaurants get to review each other’s top picks and then discuss the three restaurants in a round-table setting.

It wasn’t until last summer, six months after Dr. Engelberg had filled out the form, that he heard back from the show’s producers. They told him he only had two to three weeks to go to two other restaurants plus Froggy’s and write reviews  of what he had at each of the restaurants.

They encouraged him to go with a bigger group so that Dr. Engelberg could sample a larger variety of food.

Dr. Engelberg, who likes a nice long meal and thinks “great food makes for a great experience,” was excited for both the chance to try two other restaurants and an excuse to go back to Froggy’s – and to secretly review all of them.

On the day of the taping, show guests needed to arrive early. The producers wanted everyone to meet and greet before the taping started, but to refrain from talking about their restaurants of choice. The makeup artist also was there to put their camera makeup on.

“They put a ton of makeup on you!” commented Dr. Engelberg.

Alpana Singh, the show’s host, also sits down with each reviewer to quickly interview them about the restaurants they went to so she can prepare a few questions and lead-ins before appearing on camera.

And while Check, Please! gives the illusion that everyone is sitting around drinking wine at a restaurant, it really is just a stage set lined with cameras and video monitors.

Dr. Engelberg was feeling calm, though excited to be there, until his fellow guest, George, asked him if he had ever been on TV and then continued to explain that he was really nervous. George had even rehearsed a speech about his chosen restaurant.

“I was intimidated by this prepared speech. I was really nervous,” said Dr. Engelberg. He was also the last guest to present his restaurant on the show. “You have a little less energy by that time.”

Not only was Dr. Engelberg interviewed on TV, but the chef of the restaurant being reviewed is usually interviewed at a later time. Being on Check, Please! might bring more business to the restaurant, but to the chef it’s a huge compliment for a customer to recommend the chef’s restaurant for the show. Dr. Engelberg remembers that on his first visit back to Froggy’s “everyone knew me and the chef came out to thank me.”

If you have a restaurant in the Chicago area that you absolutely love and think should be on the show, visit,49,4. Dr. Engelberg suggests that you check to make sure the restaurant hasn’t been on the show before, you have really good answers to build up your restaurant, and that you make sure you list a variety of what other favorite restaurants you like.

Visit,49,2  and choose season eight to watch Dr. Engelberg’s episode.