Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Culinary Cutie Hits The Catwalk

Chef Ryan Poli of Perennial. (Photo: Perennial)

I promised I wouldn't make any "Zoolander" jokes, so here goes:

Perennial's very social Executive Chef Ryan Poli leaves his kitchen for one night only to walk the catwalk at Underground Thursday.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Beginning . . . And The End . . .

The first season of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" ends on Dec. 5, which is also the 77th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. (Photo: HBO)

. . . of Prohibition comes to a head on its 77th anniversary Dec. 5. That's when the first season of HBO's highly acclaimed 1920s era series "Boardwalk Empire" ends on what's expected to be an explosive cliffhanger until next season.

There will certainly be parties to fete both occasions, such as the one happening at Faith & Whiskey. It kicks off at 6:30pm Dec. 3, with a Prohibition-themed video power hour at 8, which showcases video clips of "Boardwalk Empire," "The Untouchables," "Miller's Crossing," "Legends Of The Fall" and "The Public Enemy."

The Prohibition Repeal Party is hosted by Canadian Club and includes tastings of Canadian Club Sherry Cask, Canadian Club Classic and Club Canadian Club. Revelers—who are encouraged to dress in period clothing—will also be able to toast with $5 Canadian Club shots and cocktails.

Root On Our Very Own 'All Star Top Chef'


Awesome Sprout Executive Chef Dale Levitski is the only local culinary star competing on Bravo's "Top Chef All Stars" when it debuts Wednesday.

In season three, the mad talented cheftestant came in second place, so this is another chance for him to claim the big prize against some of the series' heaviest hitters of all time.

Friday, November 26, 2010

And Now For Your Listening Pleasure . . .

DJ Madrid spins every Thursday at Le Colonial. (Photo: Madrid)

We're officially in the thick of it . . . the holiday season, that is.

To keep you in great spirits, Le Colonial's super star spinmaster Madrid has put together this awesome holiday mix for your listening pleasure.

It's filled with classics mashed up with contemporary hits, so if you're looking to jam out during dinner or over drinks with friends, you might want to put this on.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Celebs, Chefs Serve Kids Pre-Holiday Dinner

Bears defensive tackle Israel Idonije serving an early Thanksgiving dinner Tuesday to some very excited kids. (Photos: 312 Dining Diva)

I wonder who was most excited about the pre-Thanksgiving dinner served Tuesday to the 150 resident kids at the Mercy Homes on the West Side:

The kids themselves . . . executives and the culinary team from Trump Chicago's Sixteen restaurant . . . or some very high-profile local celebs?!

We're gonna go with the celebs—who consisted of first season "The Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic, motivational speaker Chris Gardner (the movie, "Pursuit of Happyness," was based on his life), Chicago Bears' tight end Greg Olson, running back Matt Forte and defensive tackle Israel Idonije—who eagerly jumped in to serve the kids as soon as they arrived.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fade To Black . . .


. . . on Wednesday.

That's the most awesome-est party night of the year, officially kicking the holiday season in full swing:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Charles Joly Is 'On The Rocks' Winner!

(Photos: Martin Furrer)

Girl & The Goat's Stephanie Izard won "Top Chef" in 2008.

Frontera Grill's Rick Bayless took home the title of the first-ever "Top Chef Master" in 2009.

And Charles Joly of The Drawing Room proved once again in 2010 that Chicago is no flyover state when it comes to fine dining and nightlife.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Oprah Tweets One Of Her 'Favorite' New Restos


It's kinda poetic that on the same day Oprah unleashed her final "Favorite Things" show she tweeted excitedly—for the first time ever—about one of her favorite new restaurants:

"I don't get out much... but just left new restaurant, Chicago Cut... Phenom!! Food is Great!"

The last time I checked, more than 100 followers retweeted her praises. Let's just see if we can get a reso by the end of the year now . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Come Root On A Local Hero!


Sooooooo, if you're around the Gold Coast Saturday around midnight, you've got to stop in The Drawing Room to cheer on hot shot mixologist Charles Joly.

The late-night resto and bar will be airing the finale of NBC's "On The Rocks," and he's one of three finalists.

Talk About An Awkward Situation . . .


Brunch at Fred's at Barneys New York Sunday just had to be quite awkward for former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers (now CEO of Johnson Publishing Company), who found herself only a few feet away from the notorious "White House Party Crashers."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry Caray's Tavern To Close Next Week

(Photo: Harry Caray's Wrigleyville)

The landlord of the building occupying Harry Caray's Tavern in Wrigleyville is so unreasonable that the revered resto and bar is pulling out next week, according to accounts from CBS-2.

In a Chicago Tribune story, Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group chief executive officer Grant DePorter compared the relationship with the building owner to "a bad marriage."

This just plain sucks.

How They Celebrated On Their Big Day

The Alinea staff (Photo: Grant Achatz)

The hard-working staff of Alinea worked their asses off to get those three coveted Michelin stars, so we weren't surprised to see this tweet from Grant Achatz hours after the announcement:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Here We Go Again . . .


Strange things are going on at Ole Hardwood. I've certainly have never seen such a strategy. . .

Thanks to the tipster who sent in this photo.

UPDATE: Looks like their executive chef has said sayonara.

Chicago's Cocktail Queens . . .

DeJorn Huffman of Sable Kitchen & Bar. (Photo: Bols Genever)

. . . have beaten the odds and conquered a male-dominated industry.

Big props go to Bridget Albert, DeJorn Huffman (Kimpton's Sable Kitchen & Bar), Lynn House (Blackbird) and Debbi Peek (The Bristol), who have changed the way people see women bartenders.

Check out the story right here, which also includes tasty cocktail recipes you can make at home.

Laurent Gras Speaks Out On Michelin Stars!


Well, at least on his blog.

The acclaimed French-born chef—who received three Michelin stars Tuesday for his work with L2O (the only other three star went to Alinea)—wrote:

One Chef's Perspective on Michelin

Chef Ryan Poli of Perennial.

Chicago's most prominent food writers are not the only ones with an opinion on Tuesday's first-ever announcement of Michelin stars.

Ryan Poli, the chef at Perennial who received Bib Gourmand honors, has a few things on his mind as well:

Chicago Michelin Results Are In!

(Photo: Michelin Guides)

Keep clicking right here as Time Out's keeping count of the first-ever Michelin stars the top chefs in the city are getting today . . .

Big news of the day: As predicted Monday, avec did not get a star.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sneak Preview of GT Fish & Oyster Bar

Chef Giuseppe Tentori (Photo: GT Fish & Oyster Bar)

At the annual Food & Wine Showcase at the MCA Monday, GT Fish & Oyster Bar's Giuseppe Tentori gave guests a sneak preview of what to expect when the River North resto opens in February.

Apparently, a Maine lobster roll will be on the menu.


Another Chef Strikes Out On His Own. . .

(Photo: via Time Out)

In a day full of shocking and sad local restaurant news, here's one more from Chicago magazine:

"Martial Noguier has left Café des Architectes for personal reasons."

We did some digging and found out he left to work on his own project.

Chicago Michelin Stars 'Leaked' By Mistake?!

(Photo: Michelin Guides)

A member of the social networking, user review and local search web site Yelp is claiming to have the scoop on the Michelin stars that will be awarded to Chicago's top restaurants on Wednesday when the guide is released:

According to the post, only Alinea and L2O were awarded the coveted three stars. Avenues, Charlie Trotter's and Ria received two stars.

Here's what the "Yelper" is saying is the entire list:

Chicago Nightlife Dissed By Men's Health


We don't make the cut when it comes to partying, according to the editors of Men's Health.

Even Boston, Milwaukee and (WTF?!) Lake of the Ozarks made it on their Top 10 list. Oh, well. Better luck next time . . .

Michelin Anxiety Sets In For Chefs . . .

Chefs Paul Kahan (Blackbird, left) and Curtis Duffy (Avenues at the Peninsula)

Chef Curtis Duffy of Avenues at the Peninsula sent out this tweet this morning about his anxiety over Wednesday's historic Michelin announcements:

"Feeling for the Michelin Release on Wednesday: excited, enlivened, psyched, edgy, anxious, restless, tense! What will it be?"

Then he jumped on his Harley to relieve that stress. Way to go!

Bears, Sixteen Feed Youth For Thanksgiving

Chicago Bears Greg Olsen (left) and Matt Forte, motivational speaker Chris Gardner and others will join Sixteen Executive Chef Frank Brunacci in serving Thanksgiving dinner to youth at Mercy Homes.

Here's a nice feel good story to take us right into the holiday season.

For the second year in a row, Sixteen Executive Chef Frank Brunacci and a number of local celebs will serve a generous Thanksgiving dinner to more than 130 kids at the Mercy Homes' campus for boys on the West Side.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Condolences to Chef Paul Wildermuth Family


This is very sad news.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that acclaimed chef Paul Wildermuth (formerly of Ben Pao, Opera, Red Light) "collapsed on Saturday night and died, according to family." He was 46.

Our prayers and condolences go out to his family.

Could It Be THREE Stars?!

(Photo: James Beard Foundation)

Every major chef and restaurateur is on pins and needles this week because Wednesday is the day Michelin finally releases its first-ever Chicago guide.

One thing looks certain—according to this tweet from Alinea's Grant Achatz—three stars (the highest rating!) looks likely for his sensational Lincoln Park restaurant:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ole Hardwood Back on Track?

(Photo: Ole Hardwood)

Is new South Loop "gastro smokehouse" Ole Hardwood finally getting its act together?!

Here's a somewhat positive account from a 312DD reader who dined there this week:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chefs & Bartenders: Can They Get Along?!

Mike Ryan, Heather Terhune of Kimpton's Sable Kitchen & Bar (Photo: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants)

When Meals on Wheels had its annual Celebrity Chef Ball at Macy's on State earlier this fall, it was the first time chefs stood side by side with mixologists during the prestigious Chef's Table Dinner.

They were in unison in every sense of the word, right down to the chef's coat, cuisine and cocktails. The cocktails flowed seamlessly with the dishes and everyone was happy.

Not so much this week when the two worlds clashed when Alinea chef Grant Achatz and his staff unveiled some of the cocktails set to debut at his revolutionary Aviary lounge to 35 of the city's most prominent bartenders.

When some "dared" to give unfavorable feedback to 312DD on some of the drinks, they were immediately shot down as being "jealous" and "threatened" and "afraid of progress."

But is this really true, or did we stumble into a larger story about chefs and bartenders fighting for territory in restaurants now that the mixology scene is on full blast?!

Readers Get Worked Up Over Dolinsky's Top 5 Sushi List


When it comes to "Top 5" (or 10, 20, etc.) lists, folks get worked up.


Everyone has an opinion on their fave steak, seafood or burger joint, and if it's missing from your list they're guaranteed to make an argument of why you should have included it.

Such is the case for Steve "The Hungry Hound" Dolinsky's Top 5 Sushi Spots in Chicago list this week that managed to stir controversy with readers.

In fact, it got so heated in the comments section about some of his selections (Where's the suburban sushi spots?! Where are the women sushi chefs?) that he jumped in and defended his choices:

Think You Can Handle The Heat . . .


. . . in "Hell's Kitchen?!"

is doing an open casting call 10am-6pm today at Le Cordon Bleu (361 W. Chestnut St.) to find talented chefs to appear on the next season of the controversial culinary competition starring chef Gordon Ramsay.

Fill out an application here, then go see if you've got what it takes. Must be at least 21.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Back To Drawing Board For Aviary Cocktails?!

Alinea chefs Dave Beran (from left), Craig Schoettler and Grant Achatz discuss The Aviary build out. (Photo: The Aviary)

Thirty five of Chicago's best bar stars were assembled at The Ivy Room Tuesday to get a sneak preview of the revolutionary cocktails set to be served at The Aviary when it opens soon in the Warehouse District.

Sponsored by Absolut Vodka and orchestrated by Alinea's Grant Achatz and his team, the eight-hour, $600-per-person experience included a "sensory analysis workshop," multi-course degustation and a number of full-size cocktails planned for The Aviary's menu.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Food Media Break Down Michelin's 'Bib Gourmand'

Smoque, The Purple Pig and Spacca Napoli. (Photo: Michelin)

The Chicago Michelin Guide revealed its first-ever Bib Gourmand list (an appetizer and entree, plus a glass of wine, will cost $40 or less) of 46 local eateries, and the critics are already weighing in.

Todd English Is Bringing Food Hall To Chicago!

(Photos: The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English)

Boston-based celebrity chef Todd English is the next big name to mark his territory on Chicago's exciting dining scene.

He told 312DD exclusively Tuesday that he's opening an outpost of New York's The Plaza Food Hall in the Gold Coast in summer 2011.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aviary Hits Up The Cocktail Experts . . .

Craig Schoettler (left) and Grant Achatz of the forthcoming Aviary in the Warehouse District. (Photo: Grant Achatz)

The Aviary must indeed be close to opening.

Just got word that Alinea owner/super chef Grant Achatz and Aviary chef Craig Schoettler have assembled the city's heaviest hitting mixologists tonight for a tasting of the line of cocktails set to be served at the swanky Warehouse District saloon.

What Is Really Going On At Ole Hardwood?!

(Photo: Ole Hardwood)

Not since my coverage of Grocery Bistro have I seen so much drama with a brand-new restaurant.

The latest on Ole Hardwood—which hasn't even been open for two weeks:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Boka Restaurant Group Sweeps First-Ever Eater Chicago Awards

From left: Rob Katz, Giuseppe Tentori, Stephanie Izard, Ryan Poli, Kevin Boehm (Photo: Boka Restaurant Group)

The ceremony for Eater's first-ever awards for Chicago restaurants took place Monday in New York.

Alinea Chef Immortalized at Barney's NY

(Photo: Natasha Liberman)

Gold Coast luxury retailer Barneys New York just unveiled its Christmas window display, and guess who got his mug in the mix?!

He Won't Be Cooking, But It'll Still Sell Out!

(Photo: Rick Bayless)

Just got word that Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco), Art Smith (Table Fifty-Two) and Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter) will sit on a panel with Frank Bruni (writer for The New York Times Magazine and former Times restaurant critic) and talk about food at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The first-ever TimesTalks in Chicago: Chicago Chefs Live! happens 6:30-8pm on Nov. 19 and you can get the $25 tickets here.

The event is followed by a book sale and signing.

In Trouble Already?!


"Gastro smokehouse" Ole Hardwood opened in the South Loop the last week of October and is already having a few issues.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Laurent Gras Is OUT At L20


A well-placed Ultimate Insider tells 312DD that French chef Laurent Gras, executive chef/partner of L20, is out at the upscale Lincoln Park restaurant. He left a few days ago.

UPDATE: Time Out has more details on Gras' sudden departure.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Five Cent Roast Chicken on Sundays

(Photo: Chef Luciano & Gourmet Chicken)

Rocky Gupta is making a comeback of epic proportions.

The owner of Chef Luciano & Gourmet Chicken has spent the last few months renovating his famous Near South Side restaurant to its original glory (when it used to house a White Castle), and he's throwing a grand re-opening celebration all month.

'The Queen of Candyland' is in Town!

Dylan Lauren of Dylan's Candy Bar.

Today is National Candy Day, and guess who's in town to make sure we celebrate in style?!

That would be Dylan Lauren—the undisputed "Queen of Candyland"—who's behind the Dylan's Candy Bar brand.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Are They Still Shaking On 'On The Rocks?'

Mixologists Debbi Peek and Charles Joly rep Chicago on NBC's "On The Rocks" bartending competition.

How did Chicago's own do on the first episode of the third season of "On The Rocks," NBC's awesome, nationwide bartending competition?!

I've got the video right here, so you can check out The Bristol's house mixologist Debbi Peek and Charles Joly, the chief mixologist for The Drawing Room.

It's a nailbiter for sure!

"On the Rocks" airs 12:05am Sunday, immediately after "Saturday Night Live."

A November To Remember . . .

Sixteen restaurant at the Trump is doing a "Luxury Pork Week" in mid-November.

Don't allow this effed up weather to mess with your mind, November is going to be one fabulous month for food and fun.

First off, we're ready to squeal with delight over the first-ever Luxury Pork Week, going down at Sixteen Nov. 15-21.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Izard, Elliot, Kahan On 'Chicago LIVE!'

Chefs Stephanie Izard (from left), Graham Elliot and Paul Kahan (Kahan Photo: Michael Stryder)

Now that we're going full speed ahead right into the holiday season, we need to save every $ we can.

So this is a pretty good deal, right?! The Chicago Tribune's weekly radio show "Chicago LIVE!" makes a point of putting newsmakers on, so it should come as no surprise that they'd get around to a show featuring some of our city's finest chefs.

They Made Crain's '40 Under 40' List

From left: Rob Katz, Giuseppe Tentori, Stephanie Izard, Ryan Poli, Kevin Boehm (Photo: Boka Restaurant Group)

Two big-name restaurant-industry folks made Crain's prestigious 40 Under 40 list this year. They also happen to be from the same restaurant group.

Boka Restaurant Group co-owner Kevin Boehm and Girl & The Goat Executive Chef/co-ownerStephanie Izard repped, and they repped well.

Here's why they made the cut: