Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Your Favorite Chefs Are Up To . . .

Former Japonais chef Gene Kato is moonlighting at Red Violet. (Photo via Time Out Chicago)

A recent dinner at one of my all-time favorites in the city brought an unexpected joy: the Red Curry Biscuit at Blackbird.

Chef David Posey pairs it with roasted lobster, but on this particular evening, we were only interested in that biscuit. You know how spots like Balena and Vera are now charging $3-$7 for bread service?! Yeah, it was that good.

The biscuit was infused with just enough curry to give it kick, but still maintained that familiar buttermilk flavor.

Here are some other cool things chefs are doing around town:

Former Japonais chef Gene Kato is working on opening Sumi Robata Bar in an undisclosed location this fall. In the meantime, he's consulting on the menu at the Chinese-focused Red Violet, and several of us media folks were lucky enough to sample more than 15 items in one sitting. A few items were particular standouts. The Wok-Seared Filet Mignon with pistachio, spring onions and a spicy soy glaze was served in a cleverly weaved potato basket. The Warm Doughnut Balls that came in a basket were filled with a lush white chocolate-lychee sauce. And the Almond Panna Cotta with spicy mango updated that stale almond cookie typically served at the end of most Chinese restaurant meals.

Thomas Elliott Bowman, the former exec chef at iNG, is set to open Baume & Brix by Sept. 17 in River North. He's also made a recent shrewd move to bring on former Moto executive pastry chef Ben Roche.

Mercadito Executive Chef Patricio Sandoval (left) with GT Fish & Oyster's Giuseppe Tentori. (Photo: Mercadito)

GT Fish & Oyster's Giuseppe Tentori is the latest top toque to create a signature taco for charity at Mercadito restaurants across the country. Through the end of August, you'll get to indulge in his fish taco with garlic-marinated rock fish, fresh Napa cabbage and pea trendils, topped with a lime vinaigrette, chipotle mayo and powdered chicharones. It's available for dinner (four per order) for $16.50 or for lunch (three per order) for $12.50. All proceeds benefit Share Our Strength.

You'll want to take advantage of Giuseppe Scurato's new "family menu" over at Ceres' Table in Uptown. From 5-6:30pm Monday through Thursday, you'll get four courses, which includes salad, pasta (with choices), roast chicken and dessert (no substitutions). It's $20 per person; up to $18 for kids.

Michael Wallach took over the top spot at Park Grill in May, and his menus finally reflect the change. We're completely fascinated by these two new entrees: "Deconstructed" and Breadless Cheese Steak & Fries (six-ounce skirt steak, grilled pepper and onion, bleu cheese crust) and the PBR Beer Can Chicken (half Amish chicken, cheddar bacon mashed potatoes, PBR sauce).

Sound Opinions’ Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot host their first-ever End-of-Summer Barbecue at Navy Pier, featuring a number of hot-shot chefs. Some of the participants: The Butcher and Larder, Hoosier Mama Pie Company and Black Dog Gelato, plus cocktails from acclaimed mixologist Adam Seger of Hum Spirits. A playlist of the Sound Opinions' hosts' all-time favorite summer songs should provide a fitting soundtrack. The $35 tickets can be purchased right here. 7pm August 22.

And get ready for Tomato Week, happening at Socca August 22–28. Highlights of chef Roger Herring's events include Tomato Martini Night on August 23 ($5 premium martinis served with $2 gourmet, tomato-based skewers), Lobster and Tomato Night on August 24 (Lobster “BLT” Gnocchi of butter poached lobster, smoked pork belly, heirloom tomatoes and field green broth for $23) and a Tomato Brunch on August 25-26 (tomato crepes, $5 Bloodies, $2 gourmet, tomato-based skewers).

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