Dining and food culture in Chicago

The Big Heat: Chicago’s Food & Drink Fifty 2014

The Big Heat 8 Comments »
Photo: Joe Mazza/BraveLux

Photo: Joe Mazza/BraveLux

This year’s selection of Chicago’s dining and drinking leadership focuses on the artists behind the beautiful and delicious compositions on our plates and in our glasses. A few on our list may be celebrities, at least in the food community, but that’s not why they got into this business, with its long hours, burnt fingers and demanding customers. Whether it’s food or drink, fine dining or pizza, salumi or chocolate, these chefs, mixologists and artisans toil behind the scenes so that we can enjoy some of the finest and most innovative food and drink in the country. It’s thanks to this impressive group—and the hundreds right behind them on our ever-growing short list—that Chicago is considered a national culinary treasure. It’s unquestionable that we lost one of our giants this past year with the passing of Charlie Trotter, but his legacy is carried forward in the artistry of the many who served under him. And they, in turn, are inspiring the next generation to learn classic cooking techniques, respect the work of legends past and dare to innovate. Oui, Chef. (Amber Gibson)

Big Heat was written by Brendan Buck, Stefan Castellanos, Amber Gibson, Veronica Hinke, Ben Kramer,  Marla Seidell and Sara Tenenbaum

All photos taken on location at the Arts Club of Chicago by Joe Mazza of BraveLux.

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The Big Heat #6: Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm

The Big Heat No Comments »

Kevin Boehm

Rob Katz

Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm
Owners, Boka Restaurant Group
What Jerry Kleiner and Rich Melman were to Chicago restaurant development the last three decades, Katz and Boehm might be for the next decade. With Boka, Perennial, Girl & the Goat and GT Fish & Oyster under their belts (and Balena in the works), they’ve shown great aplomb for attracting top talent, turning trends and most critically, appealing to scenesters and foodies. Their aggressive social media and content production is not unlike Ellen Malloy’s—they’re so hot, they don’t even need PR.

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The Big Heat #45: Giuseppe Tentori

River North, Seafood, The Big Heat 1 Comment »

Giuseppe Tentori
Chef, Boka and GT Fish & Oyster
Value pricing and casual small-plate concepts are all the rage these days, but with this movement often comes tradeoffs in execution level on the plate.  Not so at GT Fish where Tentori is executing time-consuming terrines and fine brunoise dicing on garnishes, stuff you rarely see outside of four-star temples.

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Chicago’s Best New Chef: The votes are in

Barbecue, Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Loop, Mexican, New American, News etc., River North, River West, Southwestern, Spanish, Trends & Essays, West Loop 3 Comments »

Curtis Duffy/Photo: Evan Sears

Last week, Food & Wine magazine revealed their annual “Best New Chefs” in America list, and despite Chicago’s rising culinary status, none of our local chefs got a nod. In fact, no chefs from the Midwest made the list. That being said, there’s no shortage of kitchen talent in our fair city, so we decided to stage our own “Best New Chicago Chef” competition.

We invited seventy-five of the cities top toques (many former Food & Wine Best New Chef winners), sommeliers, artisans and food experts to participate in a write-in poll naming their choice for Chicago’s best new chef. Read the rest of this entry »

Resto 100: Chicago’s Essential Restaurants 2009

African, Albany Park, Andersonville, Auburn Gresham, Barbecue, Belmont-Cragin, Bistro, Breakfast/Brunch, Bridgeport, Bucktown, Burgers, Cajun/Creole, Chinatown, Chinese, Contemporary Comfort, Costa Rican, Cuban, Deli, East Garfield Park, Events, Fast Food/Street Food, Filipino, French, Gastropub, Gold Coast, Greek, Greektown, Guides & Lists, Hot Dogs/Sausages, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Irving Park, Italian, Italian Beef, Korean, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Little Italy, Logan Square, Loop, Mediterranean, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Near South Side, New American, Organics, Pakistani, Palestinian, Pan-Asian, Pilsen, Pizza, Punk Haute, Ravenswood, River North, River West, Rogers Park, Seafood, Senegalese, Soul Food, South Loop, South Shore, Spanish, Steakhouse, Sushi, Thai, Trends & Essays, Ukrainian Village, Uptown, Vegetarian, Vietnamese, West Loop, Wicker Park 4 Comments »
In the kitchen at Alinea/Photo: Lara Kastner

In the kitchen at Alinea/Photo: Lara Kastner

Resto 100 is, as it has been in years past, a list of “essential” restaurants, which is most definitely not synonymous with “best.” We strive to reflect a world of dining in a constant state of innovative transition, to capture a snapshot of the state of the food world at this time.

In these particular hard economic times, we find ourselves dining out a lot more at the BYOBs, mom-and pop-spots and small ethnic joints than we do at the high end.  That being said, while we didn’t set out to consciously create a list to address our lighter wallets, it sure turned out that way.  More than ever, this list is a cross section of the wealth of culturally diverse and reasonably priced restaurants Chicago is lucky to have. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Cheese: Organic School Project gets unhealthy

Cuisine, etc., Events, Organics No Comments »

moxieAt a fundraiser for the Organic School Project, everyone mills about Goose Island Brewery, shoveling in spoonful after spoonful of mac ‘n’ cheese, throwing back brews and enjoying one cupcake (and then another). A wellness program created by Chef Greg Christian that works with the Chicago Public School System to get kids eating healthier, OSP plants organic gardens at schools, teaches youngsters about nutrition and works to combat obesity. Everyday, OSP provides Alcott Elementary with all organic, natural and made-from-scratch lunches.

This information, coupled with the images being continuously broadcast from the Goose Island TVs of OSP children eating organically and working in gardens, endows one with a creeping sense of guilt. Shouldn’t this event practice what it preaches? Nah, let’s try the Mac-tini. The Adam Seger-designed mac ‘n’ cheese-inspired cocktail made with cheddar cheese, maple syrup, fresh lime juice and CapRock vodka, flies off the bar and down the throats of fundrais-ees with surprising speed. Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2008: Food

Guides & Lists, Trends & Essays No Comments »

Top 5 New Higher-End Restaurants
Mercat a la Planxa
—Michael Nagrant

Top 5 New Casual Concepts or Storefronts
Cafecito Read the rest of this entry »

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2007: Food

Guides & Lists, Trends & Essays No Comments »

Top 5 Restaurant Openings

Aigre Doux
Old Town Brasserie
—Michael Nagrant Read the rest of this entry »

Grab Bag: These are a few of my favorite things

Belmont-Cragin, Elmhurst, Humboldt Park, Lincoln Park, Trends & Essays No Comments »

kingcrablegs-bulksmallBy Michael Nagrant

Due to budgetary constraints I can’t buy you a car. Or even a $40 box of croissants from William Sonoma that Oprah loved so much in 2005. Hell, I can’t even tell you if her old personal chef Art Smith’s parmesan goat-cheese biscuits are any good, because scoring reservations to his new spot Table 52 is the culinary equivalent to nabbing Miley Cyrus tickets.

Though, in the spirit of the big O, I can tell you about those bites and dishes that have inspired me lately, the ones I didn’t have space to dedicate a whole column to and have somehow escaped mention. The good news is that most of this stuff is cheap enough that you can afford them without filing a personal line item on Mayor Daley’s 2008 city budget proposal. Though with alderman scheduled to receive a doubling of their office operating budgets as part of the plan, why wouldn’t you try? Read the rest of this entry »