Monday, September 30, 2013

Rockit Snags Another Four Seasons Chef

Michael McDonald via Time Out Chicago

The news took everyone by surprise when Kevin Hickey announced last week that he was leaving the Four Seasons as well as Allium after 18 years to join Rockit Ranch.

That's effective beginning Oct. 1, but it looks like the Rockit team managed to scoop up another Four Seasons chef even before Hickey's arrival. Michael McDonald currently serves as a consultant for Rockit Bar & Grill.

Friday, September 27, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

Art Smith and Jesus Salgueiro wedding photo via Politico

Table Fifty-Two's Art Smith participates in this weekend's Chicago Gourmet event, but he's also taking a stand against homophobia with an event of his own.

His response to the Barilla chairman's stance against gay marriage is Take the Hate Off the Plate, a brunch he's hosting at his house with his husband artist Jesus Salgueiro. The event takes place at 2pm Saturday in the garden of their Hyde Park residence. The first 50 people to email Art Smith will get an invite to the brunch to show their support.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kevin Hickey Leaving Four Seasons Chicago To Pursue Dreams Of Own Restaurant

(Photo: Four Seasons Chicago)

I'm so bummed about this email I received Thursday morning:

"It is with mixed emotions today that we announce that Executive Chef Kevin Hickey is resigning effective Oct. 1 to pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant.

"'While we are truly happy and excited for Chef as he embarks on this new chapter in his outstanding culinary career, we will miss him as our Executive Chef and a long-time member of the Four Seasons family,' said Four Seasons General Manager Michele Grosso.

"'In Chef’s 18 years with this company, he truly has left his mark in every kitchen he worked–from Los Angeles to Dublin and London to Atlanta and right back here to his native Chicago where he led the team behind the former Seasons to Michelin Star and AAA Five Diamond status,' Grosso said. 'More recently he was the driving creative and culinary force behind the success of our new Allium restaurant.'

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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

Signature Room Executive Chef Rosalia Barron (Photo: Signature Room)

• It's been a big year for the Signature Room as it continues to celebrate 20 years in business. In mid-October, the restaurant's staff will make a second trip to New York's famed James Beard House when Executive Chef Rosalia Barron cooks a five-course meal paired with all-American wines (The first trip was in 2011 when Trenchermen's Patrick Sheerin was at the helm).

During a sneak preview of the dinner Sunday, we had the opportunity to sample the entire James Beard menu, which allowed Barron to truly show off her skills. Highlights included geoduck clam with Osetra caviar and fresh wasabi-lemon gelee; pan-seared scallops with white truffle whipped potatoes, bacon and Champagne vinaigrette and pink snapper with poached pears and parsnips with sea urchin. Barron also paid homage to her Latin heritage with spicy braised pork empanadas topped with avocado mousse and poblano-sherry sauce.

She's certain to wow them in New York!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The 'Cheap' First Date Dilemma . . .

Photo via

I posed what I thought was a simple question on Facebook Sunday and received more than 60 responses:

A good girlfriend just informed me that a guy asked her on a first date for dinner at foodlife. What should she do?!

Now, before you react, know that this is a guy she met randomly a few months ago at a Starbucks in her neighborhood. For some reason, it took him this long to ask her out.

Here are some of the best responses from Facebook:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

North Shore Distillery photo via Chicago Sun-Times

Next week is all about local pride.

Of course there's the Bearsand Blackhawks—but officially it's the second-annual Chicago Craft Spirits Week, which takes place Sept. 23-28.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

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


It's officially fall in a few days.

• There's never a bad time to drink French wine, yet French-focused Sofitel Chicago dedicates an entire week to the luscious grape. French Wine Week runs Sept. 23-30, and its purpose is to celebrate a new program promoting top French wines selected by French wine authorities Bettane & Desseauve.

Both Le Bar and Café des Architectes get in on the action with a series of promotions and events during the week. One of the highlights is the Les Amis du Chef dining series on Sept. 26.

Executive Chef Greg Biggers and pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky pair a multi-course dinner with some of the juiciest grapes in the region. The communal-style dinner is $150 and includes tip and tax. Call Café des Architectes for additional information.

For a more casual outing that's ideal for after work, Le Bar's hosting a French wine tasting 5-8pm Sept. 24. Guests get to enjoy pre-selected flights paired with cheese. It's $35 per person.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Veteran Chicago Bar Owner's Rant On 'Fake' Chicago Bar Owners


I've read a lot of rants, but nothing quite like this one I received from a local bar owner. He's pretty much fed up with other bar owners who he thinks are not in the business for the right reasons:

"Let me first start by saying I'm blessed for having seen several revered industry operators practice their craft and owners/entrepreneurs that I look up to who continue to amaze me with their innovative ideas alongside of their perfectionist approach to growing their venues.

"This rant is for the opposite end of that spectrum and the people who abuse their positions. Let's be honest, shall we?? Some people in our business are out to get things the easy way. Some say they own or manage places without actually doing it or going through the REAL hardcore journey respected operators have traveled to make that claim.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Michael Ruhlman Lunch At Balena

(Photo: Chronicle Books)

What are you doing for lunch on Sept. 17?!

Forget about heating up those usual leftovers and instead head over to Balena for an intimate lunch with author and media personality Michael Ruhlman.

Friday, September 13, 2013

So Very, Very Hot Right Now.

The Chicago Cabaret Project's "The Soiree Series" is an underground live performance/party taking place in fabulous Chicago homes. (Photo: Chicago Cabaret Project)

The Soiree Series heads to the South Side!

Put on by the invigorating Chicago Cabaret Project, the interactive cocktail party/live performance event this time around pays tribute to the great Judy Garland. Friends of Dorothy takes place in an architectural landmark home in the Kenwood neighborhood, which we hear is a shockingly short stroll to the President's house.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

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

GT Fish & Oyster partners Kevin Boehm (left) and Giuseppe Tentori (Photo: GT Fish & Oyster)

• It's not every day Spiaggia offers something this budget friendly, so I'd jump on it if I were you. The team's joining forces with GT Fish & Oyster's Giuseppe Tentori for a "funk & fish" edition of Stuzzi & Spritz. Head over 7-10pm Sept. 16 for swordfish and snacks as funk serves as background music in the bar area. It's $20 per person, with 50 percent off wines by the glass and specialty cocktails. Get advance tickets right here or pay at the door.

• Another awesome collaboration consists of Lee Wolen (Lobby at the Peninsula Chicago) and Ryan Poli (Tavernita). This one's a reunion of sorts because Wolen used to serve as Poli's sous chef back in the Butter days. They'll cook a multi-course, Mediterranean-inspired dinner at Lobby. It's $85 per person with optional wine pairings for an additional $25, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Common Threads. 6:30pm Sept. 16.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

'Transformers 4' Party Commences At Parliament

Parliament's rooftop offers a great view of Chicago's skyline. (Photos: 312 Dining Diva)

I'm not much of a movie buff, so when I got a last-minute invitation to the private cast/crew party for Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, the only reason I accepted was because of its location. It was held Monday night at the hot new River North champagne lounge Parliament.

Of course I was excited about the possibility of meeting director Michael Bay (Who we met!), as well as stars Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci, but I was even more excited about another bubbly bar in the area. The former home for the grimy Griffin Lounge had been successfully transformed into a luxury night spot that I could easily see myself hanging out in on a regular basis.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trends: Filipino Cuisine

Pecking Order's roasted Cornish hen with slow-cooked white bean miso and ginger coconut sauce. (Photo: Pecking Order)

The September Details issue proclaims that Filipino cuisine is the next hot dining trend and highlights some of the top spots in the country.

Notably missing are Chicago restaurants—which shouldn't come as a surprise because when most folks think of Filipino food the Midwest isn't the first place they'd look.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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


Four talented local toques gather at Tom Van Lente's TWO restaurant in West Town for a memorable, pork-focused feast. Van Lente, along with Derek Simcik (Atwood Cafe), Aaron Thebault (Girl & the Goat) and John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina), will create multiple courses from a whole Mangalitsa pig that will be paired with beer, wine and cocktails. Ninety bucks will get you smoked loin carpaccio, chile-smoked pork shoulder and pork fat buttermilk funnel cake. The event happens at 5pm Sept. 8 and a portion of the proceeds benefits charity.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September To Remember: Allium's All-You-Can-Eat Fried Chicken, 'Green Tie Ball,' & More

Yowsa! A basket of Allium's all-you-can-eat buttermilk fried chicken deal. (Photo: Allium)

Just when you thought the coast was clear and all that awesome eating you did over the Labor Day weekend was a thing of the past, this happens.

In time to fete fall's return, Allium re-introduces its weekly all-you-can-eat buttermilk fried chicken special. Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 3, Executive Chef Kevin Hickey brings back his yardbird special that comes with a wedge salad, sweet corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuit. Dessert is house-made peach pie with blueberry ice cream. It's $38 per person during lunch and dinner every Tuesday throughout September. Get it while it's hot!