Dining and food culture in Chicago

Where You Can Put Your Greens: Placing the Salad Course

French, Produce, Trends & Essays No Comments »


Composed salad at Bistronomic/Photo: Bistronomic

Composed salad at Bistronomic/Photo: Bistronomic

Eating in France in the early seventies, I discovered that French salad, unlike American salad, was usually served near the end of meals, after the main course. This was in contrast to the all-American tradition of having salads first, before the main course. I sort of figured this American salad protocol was developed because American mothers wanted to make sure kids ate their greens before getting to the good stuff.

On recent trips to France, however, I noticed that our salads were being served at the beginning of meals, American-style. Read the rest of this entry »

Opening Soon: Billy Lawless Takes On Southern Italian Cuisine with Coda di Volpe

Italian, Lakeview, News etc. No Comments »
Billy Lawless, Chef Chris Thompson, and Ryan O’Donnell

Billy Lawless, Chef Chris Thompson and Ryan O’Donnell

The cranes and forklifts navigating construction at the corner of Southport and Henderson in Lakeview aren’t toting flooring or brick just now. Instead, they’re hoisting a massive Italian-made wood-fired oven into the basement kitchens at Coda di Volpe, the Southern Italian restaurant that Billy Lawless is opening this summer with partner Ryan O’Donnell (of Gemini Bistro and the now-closed Rustic House) and San Francisco chef import, Chris Thompson. Read the rest of this entry »

Master Pasta Maker: Sahro Mollim’s Long Journey from Mogadishu to Chicago

Italian, News etc. No Comments »
Alisa Miriam Roadcup, Executive Director, Heshima Kenya, and Sahro Mollim

Alisa Miriam Roadcup, executive director, Heshima Kenya, and Sahro Mollim

By Sarah Conway

Seven years ago, Sahro Mollim was a teen living at a safe house in the bustling city of Nairobi, Kenya. Now, two years after resettling in the United States, Mollim holds the start of an impressive culinary resume thanks to support from Hogsalt Hospitality, one of Chicago’s largest restaurant groups. Hogsalt, headed by Brendan Sodikoff, owns the popular Gilt Bar and Au Cheval, as well as Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf, where Mollim has enjoyed personal and professional success as a prep cook preparing pasta.

Here’s how all that happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Tiniest Bakery in Town: Behind the “Small, Bread-Focused” Restaurant Trend

Pastry, Trends & Essays No Comments »
Baker Miller/Photo: Rosemary Lane

Baker Miller/Photo: Rosemary Lane

Iliana Regan is more than two months into her newest venture, Bunny, the Micro Bakery, described on her website as “perhaps the tiniest bakery in town.” It may well be: it’s only 700 square feet.

Every day, Regan makes five-dozen whiskey donuts, sixteen loaves of bread, and often chicken and dumplings in her mom’s old Dutch oven. Though small, the Lakeview bakery is mighty in its innovation, showcasing seaweed sourdough, brioche and mushroom tea from Elizabeth, Regan’s Michelin-starred restaurant.

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Let Them Eat Cake: Dessert, Beauty and Camera-Clubbing

Events, News etc., Pastry No Comments »
Janette Allier Design

Janette Allier Design

If alcohol, pastries, models and the louche appointments of the Stan Mansion are your bag, you’ll be thrilled.

Let Them Eat Cake is a Marie Antionette-themed photo shoot/pastry event that promises a French-style Rococo set design by Shari Cornes of The Boutique Photo Loft (boutiquephotoloft.com). Cornes will be hauling in furniture and draperies to transform the place into quarters worthy of “Madame Défecit.” So far as concept events go, it’s a brilliant blend of the famous teen queen’s decadent and infamous taste for sweets with showy fashion, drinks and… well, more sweets.

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A Growing Spirit of Cooperation: The Dill Pickle Co-op Expansion Brings Way Bigger Space and Full-Service

News etc., Organics, Produce No Comments »

150924_dill pickle composite rendering-2

By Michael Workman

Those who like to eat good food, as well as those who support the cooperative business model, will be thrilled to learn that the Dill Pickle Food Co-op is planning a major expansion.

We recently sat down with Sharon Hoyer, Dill Pickle’s general manager (and Newcity dance editor) to hear how the currently rather tiny, much beloved Dill Pickle is going to be getting a lot bigger and better. Read the rest of this entry »

Tony Mantuano Talks Olive Oil: Finding and Caring for the Real Thing

News etc. No Comments »
Tony Mantuano/Photo: Jeff Kauck

Tony Mantuano/Photo: Jeff Kauck

We’re guessing that everyone reading this has a bottle of olive oil on their kitchen shelves… or so they think. Olive oil is one of the most commonly counterfeited commodities on the market, right up there with honey. So we asked Chicago’s chef Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia, Terzo Piano, Bar Toma) to set us straight about how to select an olive oil that’s good and, we hope, actually olive oil.

Mantuano has a few names he trusts, but believes “it’s not so much about the store but about finding reputable producers and distributors, like Gustiamo or Viola.

“You have to get away from whatever is on the grocery shelves,” recommends Mantuano. “I would never trust an olive oil that didn’t say on the bottle that these are Italian olives and it should say the harvest it’s from. Reputable producers will put that information on there. I wouldn’t go near an olive oil that didn’t do that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Comfort Me: Michael Kornick Likes Meat

Comfort Me 1 Comment »
Michael Kornick

Michael Kornick

By David Hammond

“Hearty chicken soup with big chunks of parsnip celery and carrot.” That’s what Michael Kornick, chef and restaurateur (mk and Ada Street, among others), thinks of when I ask him about his favorite comfort foods. “It was like a meal. You go to delis all over the country,” he remembers, “and they have Mish Mosh soup, which is everything thrown in, and then you have, like Chicken in the Pot or something like that, and that’s the soup I’m talking about.

“Just thinking about chicken soup makes you feel comfortable,” says Kornick, “but what you think of as comfort food changes over time. And if it’s really comfort food,” says Kornick, “it has to be eaten in a place that’s comfortable for you. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasty Trash: Amanda Barnes of Celeste Talks About the Culinary Virtues of Wrecked Food

Gone but not forgotten No Comments »
Celeste...kind of a fancy place to eat wrecked & trashed food


By David Hammond

On February 14, Moto—the late Homaro Cantu’s temple/lab of molecular gastronomy—will serve its last meal. The restaurant was purchased by the Alinea Group, headed up by Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz. Kokonas remains respectfully mum about plans for the place which, along with The Aviary, Next and iNG (also a Cantu initiative), makes four properties that they own on Randolph (by Monopoly rules, they can now buy a hotel).

Whatever the Alinea Group does with the restaurant, the legacy of “Omar” Cantu continues to be seen in the efforts of chefs all over the city who’ve passed through his kitchen. Many have shrugged off the mantle of molecular gastronomy, though the lessons learned from Cantu continue to inform their worldview. Read the rest of this entry »

“To Try to Raise a Foodie is Obnoxious”: Anthony Bourdain on Early Childhood Education and His Weird Life

Trends & Essays 1 Comment »
Anthony Bourdain/Photo: David Hammond

Anthony Bourdain/Photo: David Hammond

By David Hammond

At an event in early December sponsored by Balvenie Rare Craft Collection, Anthony Bourdain (who curates the collection) and I sat down to talk. He is a very smart and articulate man. Turns out, he also has a good heart and, as you know, a colorful vocabulary.

You have a young daughter, still in single digits. How are you—or are you—educating her about food?
I think it’s imperative to not educate my daughter about food. I think to try to raise a foodie is obnoxious and weird and counterproductive. My wife’s Italian from Lombardy; I’m from where I am. The food my daughter saw her parents eating was interesting and she made her own decisions from there. I was always happy to give her pasta with butter and grilled cheese if that’s what she asked for, and I’m not going to say, “C’mon honey, try this sushi.” Read the rest of this entry »