Category Archives: Chicago chefs

News for lovers of BBQ, friends, chocolates and kids

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SWWAN celebrates Galentine’s Day!

Maybe you have a fun day/night planned with your SO for Valentine’s Day – there are a million places to celebrate in Chicago. But we also love the trend these days to call Valentine’s Day by another name – Galentine’s Day, in honor of all the fabulous single women who deserve holidays, too. See more about that at SWWAN.org (the Single Working Women’s Affiliate Network). And in further acknowledgement of the increasing number of people who are loving life on their own, some restaurants even do what they call Anti-VDay celebrations. And of course, there are always worthy fund-raising events to lift your spirit. So here is a small selection of events to consider for your dead-of-winter enjoyment.

BARBEQUE VALENTINE
Chicago q, 1160 N. Dearborn St., known for its mouthwatering house-smoked meats and effervescent Southern charm, will be serving something extra special on February 14. Celebrity chef Art Smith is offering a special Valentine’s Day Chef’s Board for Two: 1) Choice of appetizer (options like Fried Green Tomatoes with Habanero Ranch, Brisket Meatballs with Grits and Spray Fried Shallots and Creole Fried Alligator served with Greens and a housemade Remoulade.) Next up is a bountiful board featuring a variety of smoked meats plus two sides. Round out your dining experience with a decadent dessert and two complimentary cocktails for $100.

ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY
To celebrate “one of the most romantic holidays [of the year],” Columbus Tap, 200 N Columbus Dr, is hosting an Anti-VDay Party Thursday, February 14, until 11:30pm. The elevated gastropub located at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park will offer a specialty menu and a 14% discount off any single person’s bill. Try these: The Burger for One, $21: Juicy Lucie – Cheddar stuffed 8oz patty, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, garlic aioli; Stupid Cupid Wings, $14: Honey Sriracha glazed chicken wings; or Non-Conversational Tart Heart, $10: Lemon candy coated, raspberry jelly filling, no bake cheesecake.

Fannie Mae Pixies – perfect for Galentine’s Day!

CHOCOLATES
At Fannie May’s flagship location, 343 N Michigan Ave. Master Chocolatier, Elliot Callahan creates over 100 different confections. Personalize your Valentine’s chocolate heart by selecting your favorites from over 60 different chocolate confections: e.g., Pixies – buttery smooth caramel and fresh pecans drenched in rich chocolate; Dixies, – buttery smooth caramel covered in pecans. And more, like Trinidads® and their most popular buttercreams, toffees and crunch nut clusters. Consider pairing chocolates and libations, and meanwhile, a couple of suggestions from their experts on that topic:

  • Be Adventurous: If you’re a whisky drinker, many bourbons and ryes feature oaky vanilla notes and baking spice flavors that pair well with caramel confections such as Pixies®. Prefer cocktails? Try a White Russian – it’s sweet, potent, and assertive which makes for a fun match with a May Cream or Trinidad®. Valentine’s Day is a sensual occasion, so indulge the senses.
  • Perfect Match: While many wines pair well with savory foods, the same rules don’t apply with chocolate. If you prefer white wine, try an ice wine or a sweet sparkling such as a Moscato d’Asti. These styles pair well with white chocolate and Vanilla Butter Creams. If you prefer red wine, try a port, sherry, or a sparkling red wine such as a Lambrusco that will stand up to richer confections like Trinidads®, May Creams, and Pixies®.
One North Pole is partying for critically ill kids

CHEFS PARTY FOR LOCAL KIDS’ CAUSE
Winter Wonderland party brings together 30+ celebrity chefs on Monday, March 4, 6:30 to 10:30pm, for demonstrations and food tastings in support of One North Pole’s mission to serve children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, and raise funds for the organization’s annual Winter Wonderland event. Location: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont. Chefs include NFL and MLB All-Star Bo Jackson from Bo Jackson’s Signature Foods, 2019 Jean Banchet Award winner, Chef Michael Lachowicz from George Trois and Michelin Star Chefs Don Young and Sam Plotneck of Temporis.

TIckets are general admission or discounted group packages. VIP tickets also include a special early-access event from 5:30 to 6:30pm. Purchase tickets here. For more about ONP’s mission and how to volunteer or donate, visit www.operationnorthpole.org.

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4 fun food and drink ideas for summer in Chicago

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Macys Cocktail and Bar Cart Event – Fun!

Macy’s, 111 n. State St., is hosting an interactive cocktail making and bar cart styling event with Lifestyle Blogger Helen Berkun and James Beard Award-winning craft cocktail bar, The Violet Hour, on Thursday, June 28 at 6pm. Your $25 ticket gets you in to see Helen share some of her favorite tips and tricks for entertaining. Then enjoy a Violet Hour mixologist teaching you how to prepare both a classic Old Fashioned and the perfect summer punch in this hands-on cocktail-making experience inside one of Chicago’s finest retail stores.

Maillard Tavern, 494 N. Milwaukee in River West, celebrates National Fry Day on Friday, July 13. Nothing completes a burger like a side of duck fat Norwis potato fries that Eater Chicago calls truly out of this world. And on National Fry Day celebrate with shaved black truffle fries for $5. Chef Tony Priolo serves up American comfort food classics like custom griddled double patty hamburgers with those great fries, specialty sandwiches, soups, ice cream-centric desserts and a full service bar. Open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and late night snacking. First come, first serve. Follow Maillard Tavern on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Moody Tongue Brewing Company, 2136 S. Peoria St., announces its newest beer: Frozen Banana Hefeweizen, a medium-body, German-style wheat beer that showcases the flavors of a frozen banana with aromatics of both bubblegum and banana. The light honey-colored beer pairs well with grilled sausages, beer-battered fish and other summertime fare. Frozen Banana Hefeweizen will be on draft in the Tasting Room beginning Wednesday, June 27, and at Chicago-area restaurants and bars the first week in July.  The Hefeweizen, part of the Seasonal Series, celebrates the arrival of summer; the Brûléed Banana Dunkelweizen, the first release in this series, was a dark German wheat beer meant to complement cold-weather dishes. Keep your ears tuned to this Pilsen brewery for continuing innovations in brewing.

The Optima – music and food to satisfy your soul

The Optima, 1252 N. Wells, opened in April and is now offering brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 10am – 3pm. Check out such elevated classics as Chicken and Waffles Benedict (spicy Hollandaise sauce on sourdough, Parmesan-herb French Toast, prosciutto jam, caramelized onions and a sunny side up egg). Americana Breakfast features scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and toast. How about Avocado Toast on garlic toasted ciabatta, or Funnel Cake with fudge and seasonal jam, or in-house-made Cinnamon Rolls with orange cream cheese frosting? Num! High-energy atmosphere and lively live music weekends and sometimes more. All brunch dishes are listed at the bottom of the full menu here.

 

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Late December restaurant news in Chicago

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Love to learn about the specials some of our Chicago restaurants put together for the holidays. Fun. Festive. Food and drink to celebrate with. Check out these news bytes about 6 of them. And Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, etc. etc.

  1. Naoki Fried ChickenDecember 22nd & 23rd only. Naoki’s savory Japanese-style fried chicken, prepared by half or whole bird and served with Yuzo coleslaw, Roasted sweet potatoes and Teriyaki & Toban Jan dipping sauces. Available dine in or carry-out. To place an order or make a reservation, call 773-868-0002.
  2. Texas de Brazil, 210 E. Illinois, will open early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (11am to 9pm) with their full rodizio-style menu available all day, as well as Horseradish Crusted Ribeye (a special holiday item). Pricing for Chicago here and Schaumburg here. Closed on Christmas Day, but open regular hours with the regular menu on New Year’s Day.
  3. The Shelby, 2759 W. Augusta Blvd. (their website isn’t up yet but Google has reviews)  opened December 19. Open 5pm weeknights, and 11am Saturday and Sunday. Casual restaurant/bar with a hearty beer program, a full bar, and Chef (formerly with Haywood Tavern, Bite Cafe, Longman & Eagle, and Spiaggia) Rodney Staton-created snacks, salads, and a load-your-own burger and baked potato program.  Enjoy their no-bull approach to food, drink, socializing, and service in soulful, well-worn surroundings (denim upholstery, dark wood carpentry, whitewashed brick walls, and canary yellow stools), and with a soundtrack influenced by the Memphis music scene: Stax records artists, Sun records’ Big Star, Isaac Hayes, and The Grifters, to name a few.
  4. ENO Wine Room, 505 N. Michigan in the InterContinental Hotel, will be popping bubbles every hour to ring in 2018. Learn about ENO’s New Year’s Eve celebration here. If you’d rather celebrate at home, ENO’s General Manager and champagne expert, Amanda Herrell, suggests breaking out the bubbly bar yourself! Her beverage and food pairing recommendations include: Don’t feel pressured to serve only champagne! Other good dry bubbles: Crémant de Bourgogne, Cava, and Franciacorta. Sweeter  tasty bubbles: Lambrusco, Brachetto, and Moscato d’Asti. Pair them well! With dry bubbles, stick with rich triple cream cheese. The rich and decadent flavors will be complemented by the bubbles. For the sweeter bubbly drinks, indulge in foie gras mousse. The effervescence combined richness and the berry flavor of the wine will mesh well with the savory dish.
  5. Celebrate the New Year at Ceres Table, 3124 N. Broadway. Sunday, December 31 | 5:00pm – 11:00pm (reservation times) A special four-course, regional Italian meal, presented by Executive Chef Steven O’Neill. For $55/person (*Special: reservations before 6:30pm and after 10:30pm, only $45/person) guests will enjoy their choice of one dish per course from the complete menu.
  6. Lowcountry, 1132 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago’s premier boil-in-a-bag seafood destination announces a second location opening in the South Loop early 2018. At Lowcountry South Loop, the magic four steps remain the same: choose your protein, like snow crab legs, head-on shrimp, mussels and more, then choose a sauce, a spice level, and add-ons like corn, sausage, and potatoes. New boil combinations launch upon opening, and now you can get pre-set seafood bags built for one, two, three, or four people filled with a variety of shellfish and add-ons. Love the music on their website!
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Common Threads hosts Cook-Off to help hungry kids

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Common Threads is hosting its Seventh Annual Cook-Off on Thursday, October 5 from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. It’s a culinary showcase with dishes by culinary personalities from some of Chicago’s most celebrated restaurants and a silent auction – all proceeds of which will help bring health and wellness to children, families and communities through cooking and nutrition education.

Eat your way through dishes from 35+ of Chicago’s most renowned restaurants and hot-spots. Each dish will celebrate the garden, the pasture, the barn, the seed or the barrel. Once you eat and enjoy some handcrafted cocktails, you get to cast your vote for a winner in each category.
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Hosted at the Revel Fulton Market, the Cook-Off supports Common Threads’ Chicago-based nutrition education and hands-on cooking programs for underserved communities. Look for dishes from Chicago’s top restaurants like: Acadia, Arami, Bad Hunter, Bernie’s Lunch and Supper, The Blanchard, BLVD Chicago, Boleo + Vol. 39, Cindy’s, Eataly, NoMI Kitchen, Sable Kitchen and Bar, Son of a Butcher, Sunda, Travelle Kitchen and Bar and many more!
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Common Threads is proud to welcome a host of sponsors including Barilla, Kenmore, Lifeway, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and UnitedHealthcare. Learn more and buy tickets here.
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Culinary battle royale at Oyster Bah August 9

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Oyster Bah, 1962 N. Halsted in Lincoln Park, hosts a culinary battle royale on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The knives will come out as Chef Donny Farrell of Oyster Bah and Chef Chris Evangelides of Ivy Room/Tree Studios get ready to rumble for a good cause. Beginning with a reception at 6:30 pm, the two chefs will pit their individual cooking styles against each other while dealing, Chopped-style, with the added challenge of four secret ingredients. The winner not only takes home the crown but also receives a $1,000 gift certificate to present to his charity of choice (the Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago for Chef Donny and the American Diabetes Association for Chef Chris).

Each course will be expertly paired with a beverage by Oyster Bah’s Mixologist and Sommelier team, Christina Smith and Nate Redner. So come ready to eat, drink, and judge because this culinary contest will be decided by YOU! The four-course dinner costs $59.95 per guest (not inclusive of tax and gratuity) and reservations are required. Call 773.248.3000.
English: Panoramic view of Chicago from the Sk...
English: Panoramic view of Chicago from the Skydeck at Willis Tower. Created using 52 individual images taken April 5, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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3 Chicago restaurants with late “winter” news

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It’s winter, right, people? 63 degrees? I don’t think so. 43 degrees? Not really. How about 70? Do I hear 70 degrees? In any case, it’s a great time to get out and try some of the delicious things going on at Chicago restaurants these days. Here are 3 of them.

Dim sum :Author: User:Das_O2 :Date: August 20t...
Dim sum :Author: User:Das_O2 :Date: August 20th, 2005 :Notes: Typical dim sum breakfast in Hong Kong. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Intro, 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, is now offering Dim Sum brunch, Sundays from 10am to 3pm.  The unique and delicious menu can be ordered a la carte, or shared family-style at $22.95 per person. Check out: Smoked Salmon Bao, “Everything Spice”, Caper Szechuan Aioli, Chinese Homestyle Eggs with Pork Belly and Congee Rice and Chinese Donuts with Cinnamon and Espresso Milk. Full menu here and call 773-868-0002 to reserve.

Dovetail Brewery Taproom dog friendly photo by Cindy Kurman
Dovetail Brewery is dog friendly

Not a festival, not quite a market but absolutely a great time. Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine, will be hosting some of the tastiest artisanal local craft vendors in its taproom from noon to 5 p.m. on March 25. Stop by and create your own charcuterie board of assorted breads, cheeses and meats to accompany your favorite Dovetail beers. And by popular demand, Dovetail has added a 1 pm. tour on Saturdays. Stop by the brewery at either 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. to enjoy an informative and fun tour. Tour admission is $15 which includes your choice of three Dovetail 0.3L servings of beer.

Ēma, 74 W. Illinois, another LEYE restaurant, is having its first-ever wine dinner on March 29 at 6:30. For $75 a person (plus tax and gratuity) you’ll be treated to a mezze feast of Ema favorites and specialty dishes crafted by Chef CJ Jacobson and accompanied by wines from Sandhi Winery in Santa Barbara, California. Leading the event is winemaker and James Beard beverage book winner Rajat Parr, author Secrets of the Sommelier, and recipient of the 2015 James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Professional.  Call 312-485-5778 or email emaparties@leye.com to reserve.

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3 days only! 312 Chicago celebrates 19 years with $19 specials

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312 Chicago celebrates 19 years!

As a thank you to customers in celebration of 19 years in Chicago’s bustling Theater District and across from City Hall,  312 Chicago, 136 N. LaSalle, and Chef Luca are offering *all* dinner entrees for $19 each as well as $19 bottles of select red and white wine. Starting on their anniversary, 3/12/17 and evenings through Tuesday 3/14, you can get everything  at the party price – check the list below. Reservations are encouraged.

Here’s the complete menu:

  • Salmone, $27: Roasted Faroe Island Salmon, Tri-Colored Lentils, Cippolini Onions, Baby Spinach, Lemon Sauce
  • Branzino, $28: Mediterranean Skin-On Sea Bass, Cauliflower Puree, Manila Clams, Zucchini and Yellow Squash, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Garlic White Wine Sauce
  • Cacciucco, $29: Sauteed Scallops, Shrimp, Tuna, Mussels, Clams, Lobster, Light Spicy Tomato Broth, Grilled Garlic Crostini
  • Pollo, $23: Roasted Chicken Breast, Beech Mushrooms, Crispy Onion, Sweet Grilled Corn, Creamy Polenta, Chicken Succo
  • Maiale, $26: Roasted‎ Pork Chop, Black Tuscan Kale, Potato Cake, Prosciutto, Brandy Cream Sauce
  • Filetto, $35: Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Tri-Colored Fingerling Potatoes, Truffle Butter, Porcini Mushroom Sauce
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“Real American” fast food vegan-style opening in Uptown

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Kal’ish, 1313 W. Wilson, a short-order vegan restaurant that promises a 100% animal-free menu, opens in Chicago on January 14. That day at 1 pm you’re invited to stop by for complimentary samples of the restaurant’s hot cocoa, cookies, grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Gina & Andy Kalish, operators of the Ravenswood Event Center, are excited to be opening the restaurant in the neighborhood they’ve called home for over 20 years.

“We’ve always wanted to open a vegan restaurant that could satisfy vegans and omnivores alike,” says Gina. “Kal’ish offers indulgent plant-based alternatives to favorites found at traditional fast food restaurants.” 

Diners can expect a wide range of animal-free takes on classic Americana dishes, including gluten and nut-free options. Kal’ish makes from scratch all meat-like protein replacements, using legumes, roots, nuts, yeasts, wheat, vegetables, starches and more to find the right flavor combinations. To do so, the kitchen has become somewhat of a laboratory, testing ways to create animal-free versions that any eater would enjoy. Favorites from the menu include:

  • K Burger: a classic beefy patty, horseradish kale mayo, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion, served on a classic bun
  • Pulled Pork-N-Jack: pulled braised jackfruit, smoky sweet q sauce, purple slaw and pickles, served on a classic bun
  • Chili Cheese Fries: skin-on salted fries topped with savory house chili, cheese sauce and spicy pico de gallo
  • Farmer Brown Plate: steamed and griddled vegetables with Midwest curry on a bed of brown rice

In addition, Kal’ish also offers an all-day breakfast menu and Sunday brunch, with options including:

  • K-Eggs, Potatoes & Toast: a plant-based riff on traditional scrambled eggs with griddle potatoes and onions and a side of buttered toast
  • Clucker Crisp & French Toast: just like fried chicken & waffles, but plant-based
  • Biscuits & Sausage Gravy: southern classic fluffy biscuits with homemade vegan gravy and fennel sausage

Take out or eat in the bright, minimalistic space, designed by vegan architect Ferdinanda Marcic.

 

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2-night chance to do dim sum at Intro

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2 nights of dim sum at Intro. Photo credit: Anjali Pinto

If you haven’t experienced the joys of cuisine delivered by top chefs being given a chance to shine – and experiment using their highest skills, to the great enjoyment of guests – how about trying it this week? Wednesday, December 28 – Thursday, December 29 reserve your spot at Intro for a modern dim sum pop up. For two days only, three former Intro visiting chefs are taking the entrepreneurial skills that they learned at Intro to take over the restaurant with a menu inspired by their travels – in particular the nine Asian countries Chef Gillanders recently toured.

An a la carte menu and pre-fixe option are available will feature elevated dim sum, noodles and rice and family-style feasts. A limited number of reservations are available from 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. next Wednesday, December 28 and Thursday, December 29 for this special a la carte menu. To make a reservation or view the menu, visit www.introchicago.com or call the restaurant at 773.868.0002.

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Eden opens tonight in hot new W. Lake district

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Eden Restaurant, 1748 W. Lake St., opens its doors tonight, bringing refined cooking, impeccable hospitality, and unwavering conviviality to the dining community. Principal Jodi Fyfe, Chef/Partner Devon Quinn, and Chef de Cuisine Miles Schaefer deliver stellar cuisine and a rustic ambiance.

Beautiful, clean, creative cuisine at Eden in W. Lake district

The new 95-seat restaurant draws inspiration from Portugal, Spain, Lebanon, and more and offers a fresh, farm-forward menu that epitomizes clean cooking. A biologist by nature with a passion for hyper-local ingredients, Chef Quinn applies the bounty of his onsite 1800-square foot greenhouse throughout the menu, which means fresh flavors year-round. Think creative options like Umami Doughnuts, Roasted Baby Beets, Braised Duck Lasagna, and Portuguese Spiced Chicken.

Eden’s Pastry Chef Stefano Tulipano, General Manager and Sommelier Arif Rahman, and Mixologist Alex Rydzewski each offer distinctive drinks and desserts that work beautifully with Eden’s menu.

The restaurant is designed with careful craftsmanship using local resources and features rustic touches and authentic finishes. Original exposed brick speaks to the neighborhood’s industrial history, while graphic black and white tile highlight the exclusive chef’s counter and expansive bar.  Eden is now open for dinner. Preview the menu here, and for reservations visit  or call (312) 366-2294.

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