Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town This Week

Sprout chef Dale Levitski celebrated his 40th birthday during a surprise party on Monday. (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

Let's get on with it: Bring on spring.

Dale Levitski (Frog N Snail, Sprout) is experiencing an especially busy season. The former "Top Chef" finalist turns 40 today (April 3), celebrates the first anniversary for Frog N Snail on April 5, and recently transformed the menu over at Sprout. Levitski has been spending much of his time lately at Sprout, where he's turned the menu into a multi-course, prix-fixe experience for $65 per person (an extra $35 with wine pairings). The menu is seasonal with the signature, whimsical accents that originally put Levitski in the spotlight. There's a lot of game on the menu (think foie gras, rabbit, exotic fishes), but also a few inventive preparations with vegetables. And to continue the celebration of his 40th bday—and Frog N Snail's anniversary—Levitski's special event takes place on April 5 where diners get to "choose their own adventure" for $40. They'll get an appetizer, entree, dessert and complimentary glass of bubbly.

David Morton and Michael Kornick (Ada St., DMK Burger Bar, FishBar) are moving fast with their plans for a chef-driven BBQ joint in Little Italy. The name for the project is County and it takes over the space formerly occupied by the iconic Italian eatery Gennaro's. MK Executive Chef Erick Williams will oversee the menu. Look for items such as Texas-style brisket, smoked lamb shanks, veal breasts, Kansas City-style spare ribs and a daily signature cocktail when the restaurant opens later this year.

Paul Kahan (Photo: Battman Studios)

Nightwood chef Jason Vincent this week was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef for 2013. The polls are also open to select Food & Wine's People's Best New Pastry Chef, which includes local sweethearts Meg Galus (NoMI), Sarah Jordan (Boka), Leigh Omilinsky (Café des Architectes), Anna Shovers (Publican), Jennifer Jones (Topolobampo) and Katie Wyer (Telegraph).

Jean-Georges Vongerichten introduces a brand-new brunch at Pump Room this weekend. It's orchestrated by Executive Chef Moosah Reaume and Pastry Chef Kady Yon with items such as a Sunny Side Up Frittata with bacon, asparagus and chilis; a baked apple streusel pancake served with maple syrup; and an organic egg sandwich with homemade breakfast sausage with pepper jack cheese, chipotle aioli Peekytoe crab, scrambled eggs, spicy tomato sauce and basil.

• Chicago is up for a number of honors in The Munchies: People’s Choice Food Awards, which is hosted by Andrew Zimmern. Vote in your favorite categories, including Best Chef (Paul Kahan, Blackbird), Best Burger (Butcher and the Burger), Best Pizza (Bar Toma) and Best Food City (Chicago!).

• The Shake It Up! bartender competition took place last week at the 28th annual Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show and The Local Chicago's Dustin Drankiewicz came in third place. His Matthews Law of Pyrat Rum, Aperol, root beer syrup and Fee Brothers peach bitters made a strong impression on the judges.

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