Thursday, April 2, 2009

High-Tech tasting from farm to table

Phillip Foss, executive chef at Lockwood (Photo: Lockwood)

He's the guy who brought us the infamous Lobster Haute Dog and Foie Gras Sliders, so it shouldn't come as a surprise Phillip Foss's delving deep into technology for his latest project.

Lockwood's executive chef has partnered with Ohio farmer Lee Jones to raise awareness of sustainable produce through a live, digital tasting at the restaurant. Guests will connect to farmer Jones via live Internet video conferencing in order to gain a better understanding of how sustainable agriculture is farmed; how that produce made its way onto the evening's menu; and will have the opportunity to garnish their own dishes with produce highlighted throughout the conversation.

The event benefits Veggie U, a non-profit organization of the Culinary Vegetable Institute and The Chef's Garden providing children with an understanding of sustainable agriculture. 6-9pm April 21. $95.

Master in his Domain

Fernando Betata, Master Sommelier at NoMI (Photo: NoMI)

There's only about 100 Master Sommeliers in the United States, and NoMI's own Fernando Betata recently joined the ranks of this exclusive club.

The Master Sommelier diploma's the highest distinction a professional attains in fine wine and beverage service, so you can imagine it doesn't come easy. But if you're game, Betata's willing to test your skills to see just how much you know about wine.

Tonight's event at NoMI includes a blind tasting, appetizers and wine. Do it if you dare. 5:30-7pm. $30.

Here's where else you need to be:


Two weekly events at one sixtyblue should certainly grab your attention. A seasonal, three-course prix-fixe menu happens Monday-Thursday, with executive chef Michael McDonald hooking up dishes like chicken chorizo gumbo, seared filet of salmon, or chicken and biscuits. Or, head to the bar on Fridays for hand-battered Alaskan codfish paired with hand-cut fries and homemade tartar sauce. That's $10.

A former neighborhood library has been transformed into Branch 27, in West Town, officially opening tonight. It should give long-time neighborhood fave West Town Tavern a run for its money as its interpretations on classic American fare are spot on. We're still craving the well-brined boneless roasted chicken with brussels sprouts with chunks of bacon!

Speaking of classics, pioneering West Loop eatery Vivo is working hard to re-invent itself. Each week, Taste for Charity raises money for a different cause. This week, your $10 donation goes to breast cancer research. Resident wine specialist Erik Hampe pours six wines paired with apps. 5-8pm.

Ask for the Spring Sampler Menu by name at Red Light, another West Loop gem. Executive chef Jackie Chen put together this menu that includes signature dishes like Black Tie Shrimp and lobster rolls as well as a daily chef's preparation of fish. $20.09 through April 30. Sunday-Thursday for dinner only.

Ambrosia, created by Le Bar mixologist Daniel (DJ) Love (Photo: Sofitel)


Rampfest has managed to gather some of the city's most fabulous chefs to create signature dishes with ramps, a native wild leek. Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave.). 7-9:30pm. $90.

Treat yourself to Ambrosia, created by mixologist Daniel (DJ) Love of Sofitel's Le Bar. Made with Pernod Absinthe, gooseberry juice, cognac, St. Germain and Martini & Rossi, the decadent drink just won the World Cocktail Competition’s State Finals. Get over there and get one before he competes for the nationals in San Fran on May 10.


Green City Market kicks off April with a Bacon & Eggs-themed month—complete with chef demos and special events at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Dr.). At 9am, chef Mike Cisternino (Tavern at the Park) is first with an organic zucchini & mint frittata wrapped with speck ham and served with a fresh cherry tomato sauce. Also, make sure your face is in the place by 10am for Beard-nominated Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate) and 11am for Sam Burman (bluprint). And if you have kids, bring them for the first-ever Green City Market Easter Egg Hunt, happening at noon. Prizes include special treats from the farmers and producers at the market. Free, but RSVP required; send email to

If you're still pissed over the outcome of Season 5's "Top Chef," you don't want to miss this showdown, happening at The Chopping Block. "Top Chef" finalists Carla "Hootie Hoo!" Hall and Stefan "The Arrogant Finnish" Richter go head to head. 6-9pm. $150.

In Fine Spirits fetes its first anniversary with a tasting event, where guests sample New World wines, cocktails, artisanal beers and appetizers. 3-5:30pm. $35.


The Diva Brunch has nothing to do with 312DD, but it's one of the wildest we've seen in a long time. The Scooty & JoJo Show hosts this weekly event at The Spot, featuring drag queens and kings. Of course, your favorite brunch items will be on the menu, but just gimme those Bellinis and Mimosas. 11am-2pm.

And the Chicago Defender Charities throws a birthday party for hip-hop star/deejay Biz Markie. Interesting, but it's obvious they're trying to draw a younger crowd with it happening at Victor Hotel. Also, Slick Rick performs. 8pm-2am. Call 312-225-2400 for ticket price; we couldn't find it anywhere.