This year, we celebrate those people who stand behind or often beside the chefs, sommeliers and others who make and serve the best food and drink in the world. We’re talking about investors, restaurant groups, the purveyors—even the media!—and all the other people who work in their own ways to make Chicago the premier food city that it has become.
To narrow the list of contenders, we called upon those who made the list before, who provided invaluable insights and suggestions about figures to include in the Big Heat 50 for 2019.
You will see some players you know, while those who’ve been on the list for years have been elevated to the Hall of Fame.
This list will introduce you to up-and-comers as well as those so deep within the business they’re almost invisible.
We can’t recognize everyone who deserves mention, but here is a cross-section from across the hospitality spectrum. For every person mentioned, there are so many more equally deserving of our support, and of our gratitude. (David Hammond)
Big Heat 50 2019 is written by David Hammond, Rebecca Holland, Lauren Knight along with Kristine Sherred and Freda Love Smith.
All photos by Monica Kass Rogers with photo assistance by Ryan Thomas Lay. Shot on location at Tock headquarters.
The Hall of Fame
These folks, or the roles they inhabit, are so well-established and foundational to the dining and drinking world of Chicago that they are always near the top of the list.
Terry Alexander, Peter Garfield, Paul Kahan, Donald Madia and Eduard Seitan
One Off Hospitality
Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz
Boka Restaurant Group
Cody Hudson, John Martin, Robert McAdams and Peter Toalson
Land and Sea Dept
Gage Hospitality Group
Publican Quality Meats Larder
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Rare Tea Cellar
Rich Melman and RJ, Molly and Jerrod Melman
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
Isabelli Media Relations
Dining and Drinking Editor for Newcity, David also writes a weekly food column for Wednesday Journal in Oak Park and is a frequent contributor of food/drink and travel pieces to the Chicago Tribune, Plate Magazine and other publications. David has also contributed chapters to several books, including Street Food Around the World, Street Food, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org