Dining and food culture in Chicago

Chef Recommends: Joey Beato of Community Tavern

American, Portage Park No Comments »
Joey Beato/photo: Dirk Matthews

Joey Beato/photo: Dirk Matthews

While still in high school, Chef Joey Beato of Community Tavern taught himself how to make breakfast food, though not much else. “Breakfast for dinner” was common, and he became a master at omelets. He discovered the kitchen was where he wanted to be. He enrolled at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (now Le Cordon Bleu).

Studies complete, he went straight to work at Quince in Evanston. Right away, the chef “gave me a case of rabbits and a case of beef chuck and was like, ‘Do this.’ And I had no idea what I was doing, but I did that for a month. It was the first thing I did there.” Butchery became one of the first professional skills Beato mastered, helping to develop his skill and respect for meat that would become a cornerstone of the Community Tavern menu. 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 »

Secrets of Superior Steak: Revealed by David Flom, Chicago Cut

Uncategorized No Comments »

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There are a lot of steakhouses in Chicago, which we’ve always interpreted to be a holdover from the days of the Union Stock Yard, once the largest in the world. Though Chicago is no longer hog or beef butcher to the world, people still visit our city with steak on the brain. Consequently, there are a lot of excellent steakhouses in the city to choose from, many serving superior beef.

David Flom, managing partner at Chicago Cut, gives us the lowdown on what he believes makes an excellent steak. Turns out, it has a lot to do with the elevation where the cattle is farmed, how it’s aged, where it’s butchered, and what kind of knife you use when eating it. Read the rest of this entry »

Mudbugs, Tastier than They Sound: Crawfish in Chicago

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Photo: Monica Kass Rogers, MKRogers.com

Photo: Monica Kass Rogers, MKRogers.com

By Monica Kass Rogers

Crayfish—crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs… whatever you call ‘em, if you’re a Chicagoan, it’s not likely you grew up with these creatures on your dinner plates. This is the season to set that right.

Alfredo Nogueira can’t remember the first time he ate crawfish. “But I’m sure I was really little,” says the chef, who grew up just outside Orleans Parish in Louisiana. Relocated to Chicago, where at Analogue he serves Cajun and creole food (and probably the city’s best cup of chicory coffee), Nogueira is spinning crawfish tales, telling us how he got his start cooking the creatures. As a young teen busing tables at a huge-volume seafood restaurant, being cool was of interest; being brawny, even more so. “And there was no one cooler or brawnier than the guy who was in charge of the crawfish boils,” Nogueira laughs. “I said to myself, that’s what I want to do.” Nogueira got his wish senior year of high school, and, through the steamy hot, hard-labor of toting huge kettles and boiling the seafood, he achieved brawn. “I’m not sure about the ‘cool!’” he adds. 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 »

The Chef Recommends: Carolina Diaz of Filini

Italian No Comments »
Carolina Diaz/Photo: Lauren Knight

Carolina Diaz/Photo: Lauren Knight

When you go out to a restaurant, you’re hoping to get a taste of the best the kitchen has to offer. A menu can be a mystery, so why not go straight to the source? Chef Carolina Diaz of Filini Bar & Restaurant tells us a little about herself… and what she recommends you try from her menu.

Diaz started cooking at a young age, mostly out of necessity. In a family of six, someone had to make dinner, and that usually fell to Diaz and her sister. It wasn’t until later in life that cooking began to have an allure of its own. The Food Network was on the rise with its chef-focused shows; the stars made cooking look “so glamorous,” Diaz says. She was hooked. She dropped out of her psychology studies and enrolled in culinary school. Read the rest of this entry »

Love and Jamón: Spanish Square

Lakeview, Spanish No Comments »

 

Manuel Moreno and his seductive jamón/Photo: Rosemary Lane

Manuel Moreno and his seductive jamón/Photo: Rosemary Lane

Enter the Spanish Square (1358 West Belmont), and you’ll walk into a love story that began in—where else?—Spain. Mara Baer and Manuel Moreno, owners of this new restaurant/tapas bar/market in Lakeview, met seven years ago in southern Spain. Mara was teaching English at a local high school. One night, her friends brought her to a housewarming party at Manuel’s, a native who lived above the city’s main plaza.  Read the rest of this entry »