This year our Big Heat listing focuses on chefs, pit masters, bartenders, bakers and those who prepare and serve the food that makes us all so lucky to live in one of the world’s major culinary centers.
Instead of repeating many of the same names year after year, we have elevated to the Hall of Fame those figures in the community who have appeared three times or more on this list. The new Hall of Fame designation means we can now recognize these perennial all-stars while making room for new faces. We’re proud that our 2020 list includes at least two dozen new names, representing a broader and deeper cut into our local culinary culture.
Did we miss one of your favorites? Almost undoubtedly. There are over 10,000 restaurants in Chicago, and no one list can cover more than a tiny fraction of that number.
It’s our hope that with this list we’re recognizing not only the well-known names but also the up-and-comers who, one day, may very well be enshrined in our Hall of Fame. (David Hammond)
Big Heat 50 2020 is written by David Hammond, Rebecca Holland, Lauren Knight, Leigh Kunkel and Emily Larsen.
All photos by Monica Kass Rogers with photo assistance by Ryan Thomas Lay. Shot on location at Kumiko and Kikko.
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 any list.
Chef, Fisk & Co.
Chef-Owner, Topolobampo, Frontera Grill, Xoco, Bar Sótano, Leña Brava, Cruz Blanca Brewery & Taquería, Tortazo, Tortas Frontera, Frontera Foods
Chef-Owner, Big Jones
Chef-Owner, EL Ideas
Chef-Owner, Belly Shack and Urban Belly
Chef-Owner, El Che Steakhouse & Bar
Mixologist, Lost Lake
Chef-Owner, Elizabeth and Kitsune
Tom Van Lente
Chef-Owner, TVL Culinary
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