Thursday, October 22, 2009

Minority Chefs Overlooked in TOC Chef Issue

Mark Mendez is the executive chef at Carnivale. (Photo: Mark Mendez)

Just got the latest copy of Time Out Chicago, and this week they're focusing on chefs.

In it, the staff did a roundup of the 12 Most Important Chefs Right Now, and somehow forgot to include ANY people of color.

It wasn't a surprise to find Frontera Grill's Rick Bayless on the list, and I was happy to see folks like Michael McDonald (one sixty-blue) and Jared Van Camp (Old Town Social) get their shine on, but could not believe a number of amazing chefs of African-American, Asian and Latin descent were excluded.

Since TOC didn't give up the props, 312DD will to . . .

. . . Rodelio Aglibot (Sunda): The Filipino-born executive chef oversees the kitchen in the hottest Asian restaurant in the city, attracting A-List celebs and local diners alike.

. . . Sandeep Malhotra (Marigold): Almost every dish on Malhotra's menu is flavorful, memorable and can easily compete with any traditional Indian restaurant on the famed Devon Street strip.

. . . Mark Mendez (Carnivale): Mendez is a big supporter of locally sourced produce, his Latin-laced restaurant is jamming seven nights a week, and he's always looking to take his menus to the next level. Oh, yeah. We also love him for this.

. . . Erick Williams (MK): The iconic River North resto is 10 years old, and Williams has been there all along, rising in the ranks to become the most prominent African-American chef in the city. And he's not just relying on the Michael Kornick name to attract diners; the menu changes every week with fresh and innovative American contempo dishes.

And that's just a few of the names who should have been considered for that list.

Cat Fight Over Cupcakes?!


"It's really dumbed down stuff with low-quality ingredients, and then they use stuff like beautiful decor, excellent marketing, and nice packaging to create the illusion that you're getting something nice when you're actually getting cheap, trashy product," says Pasticceria Natalina owner Natalie Zarzour to GrubStreet about how she really feels about Sarah's Pastries and Candies.

Wow, now was that really necessary?!

Thankfully, owner Sarah Levy took the high road, responding with only: "I'm sorry to hear that she feels that way."

As I always say, never a dull moment!

A Freak-tastic FREEBIE FRIDAY!


OK, people get ready!

This week 312DD's giving away two amazing FREEBIE FRIDAY deals for Halloween, and you don't want to miss out:

One person will win two tickets to Nacional 27's annual Goth and Glam Gala, happening on Oct. 31. The costume party will include a premium open bar (8pm-midnight) featuring mixologist Adam Seger's award-winning signature libations such as a Dragon Blood Mojito, plus passed empanadas, pumpkin croquetas, shrimp adobado, guacamole, sloppy 27s and more. You'll also be entertained by La Tremenda Rumba and DJ George Perez, and make sure your costume is fierce so you can win one of the prizes (grand prize $1,000 cash; first prize N27 cocktail party for 27 people; second prize VIP club table and two bottles of Bacardi). Featured judges are the legendary Chili Pepper and 312DD.

Regular admission for the event is $75 in advance; $85 at door; $20 at midnight. 8pm-3am.

Another person will win Sunda's first-ever Dim Sum in the Dark, also going down on Halloween. You and a guest will be treated to a selection of dim sum items in a sophisticated, darkened, candle-lit room. Share-able items (which will be $8.88 for everyone else) include crab pot stickers, Har Gow (shrimp-filled dumplings), BBQ duck leg, steamed Chilean sea bass and five spice chicken wings. Your reservation will be at 7pm, and beverages, tax and gratuity are on you. The regular menu will be offered as well.

And immediately after Dim Sum in the Dark, a 9pm table will be waiting for you at Underground, with a complimentary St. Germain kit (tax and gratuity not included).

UG's theme this year is The Coven, with a creature feature cast of characters from classic and contemporary vampire tales. The setting will be transformed into a coven of blood-feeding faves. Deejays Jordan V’ampire and Jugular Rose spin. 9pm-5am. Free for you, and $20 for everyone else.

All you have to do to be eligible for one of these freak-tastic FREEBIE FRIDAY prizes is to be a Chicago-area resident and following 312DD on Twitter.

Good luck!

Bubbles, Bubbles Will Get You in Trouble!


It's about a month until we get into the heart of the holiday season, but when did we ever let that slow us down?!

On tap for Friday at The Drake is Tour de Champagne, a bubbly bash featuring a number of France's finest spirits complemented by bites from local hot spots, live music and a silent auction benefiting Healthy Schools Campaign. Chefs from Blackbird, Kiki's Bistro, Sunda, Wave and other restaurants will provide the eats.

The party's $115 for the regular event happening 7-10pm; $150 for the VIP experience, which includes the main event, plus a fin de soirée for dessert, more bubbly and an after-party at Pops for Champagne. Get tickets here.

Nine more reasons to celebrate this weekend . . .


Get your rowdiest pals together and hit Brew & View, in Lakeview, for back-to-back-to-back screenings of The Hangover, Anvil and This is Spinal Tap. More incentives are the $3 drafts of MGD, High Life and Miller Lite. The madness begins at 7pm. $5.

The James Hotel always manages to be in the mix when it comes to all things fab, so it's no surprise someone there stuck her stiletto way up in Fashion Focus Chicago. It's all going down in the lobby bar, and adjacent resto David Burke’s Primehouse will pass out comped apps. They're also doing a cool cocktail for the special occasion, The Couture, a refreshing twist of sparkling wine, red currant and white pepper compote for $7. 5:30-7:30pm. Free.

ajasteak's been re-concepted as aja, which debuts today. Instead of a formal steak and sushi menu, executive chef Josh Linton has transformed both levels into a more approachable offering. You'll find a sushi menu of sustainable-only fish, Asian-style tacos, and shareable plates of noodles and veggies. Oh, we cannot forget about the new beverage program, which includes eight by-the-glass sake selections—all presented tableside via a strolling cart—and 12 Asian craft beers.

Oh, boy. It's only a week before Halloween, and The Hideout Players have decided to put on their version of Little Shop of Horrors at The Hideout. There will be singing, maniacal plants and more. Get tix here. 8pm Thursday, Friday; 3pm and 8pm Saturday; 3pm and 7:30pm Sunday. $15.

"Royster with the Oyster" takes place under a tent across from Shaw's in River North. (Photo: Shaw’s Crab House)


If this is your weekend to get away for a short trip, you'll be in amazing company if you head up to the Abbey Resort & Spa in Fontana, Wis. The third-annual Great Chefs at the Lake weekend package ($219 a person) includes a two-night stay, starting with a Friday evening wine reception with the guest chef, cooking demo and signature four-course dinner prepared by the featured chef. The series kicks off tonight with Cibo Matto/Roof executive chef Todd Stein, who'll be whipping up modern Italian cuisine through Sunday. Upcoming events include Dudley Nieto of Eivissa (Nov. 6-8) and Jimmy "Tasty J" Madla, chef/co-owner of Coobah (Nov. 13-15). Get more info here.

What is it about oysters that drives people crazy? Oh yeah, never mind. If you’d like to see the effects at full force, head to the annual Royster with the Oyster Festival, taking place at Chicago seafood icon Shaw’s Crab House. Just think about what could possibly happen when more than 5,000 oyster lovers gather under a tent that’s bursting at the seams with live blues, gallons of Goose Island beer and a no-hands “slurp off” (an oyster slurping contest, of course). The party’s $10 to get in, with a portion going to the Shedd Aquarium and Alliance For The Great Lakes. 3-10pm.


If you frequent River North and River West, you're quite familiar with Blommer Chocolate's overwhelming aroma as it permeates the air in the area, but have you ever tasted their goodies?! Now's your chance as the Lockwood lobby bar hosts the Blommer Chocolate Lounge every Saturday through Dec. 26. Pastry chef Fabrice and students from the French Pastry School create signature desserts for your eating pleasure, so you can dig into unlimited sweets (plus coffee, tea, cappuccino, espresso, a glass of wine, champagne or a beer). 9-11pm. $35 for full chocolate experience or $5 for individual desserts.

You don't get many Saturday nights when you can dress up your dog in his/her finest and take him/her out on the town. So get it together for Wine, Wags & Dog Tags!, happening at Bice Grill. You'll meet celebrity dog coach Tamar Geller, whose clients include Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and Ellen DeGeneres, plus chow down on Italian bites as your pet indulges from the gourmet dog bar. Benefits Operation Heroes & Hounds. 6-8:30pm. $35 per adult (includes VIP Goodie Bag valued at $200); $5 per pet (limit one licensed dog per adult).


And the Bears Bloody Mary Special happens at Shaw’s Crab House every time the hometown team plays. Come in wearing Bears gear (excluding hats), order brunch, and you'll be treated to one comped signature Bloody Mary filled with house-made tomato juice, Absolut Peppar vodka, Worchester, Tabasco, and garnished with a plump shrimp, dill pickle spear, green olive and a lime. By the way, the Bears play the Cincinnati Bengals today.