Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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


Don't let the cold weather slow you down . . .

• One way to fight off the chill is to attend Red Door's fundraiser featuring the city's coolest chefs in a chili cook-off. The event benefits the Chicken Freedom Project, an initiative by Slagel Family Farms to purchase and convert an existing five-acre commercial, caged chicken and egg facility into a cage-free, old-fashioned farm operation in Central Illinois. Participating chefs include Red Door's Troy Graves, plus John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina), Eric Mansavage (Farmhouse), Enoch Simpson (endgrain), Mark Steuer (Carriage House) and Matt Troost (Three Aces). Tickets are $25, includes food and one Olmeca Altos cocktail, and may be purchased here. 6pm Jan. 28 and Yours Truly is the Special Guest Judge.

• A bunch of Chicago bartenders are going to Occupy NYC this weekend in what they're calling 24 Bartenders, 24 Hours. Their sked is absolutely hectic with a boozy brunch, Skeeball tournament, tattoo sessions, karaoke and more. There's a charity attached to the madness; they're raising $$$ for the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. In on the fun are organizers Daniel de Oliveira (Olmeca Altos) and Sergio Serna (The Drawing Room), plus Charles Joly (The Aviary), Josh Pearson (Sepia), Mea Leech (belly Q) and Paul Sauter (Double A). I guess it's going to be pretty difficult getting a drink around town Sunday night!

Rosebud Steakhouse's new Chinatown-inspired fried lobster with peanuts, kaffir lime and chiles. (Photo: Rosebud Steakhouse)

• There's a new regime at Rosebud Steakhouse and they're making their presence known with bold new items on the menu. Assistant Corporate Chef Peter Balodimas and Executive Chef Michael Lilleberg have modernized this legendary Streeterville steakhouse with dishes like the massive, chilled Madagascar prawn cocktail (six ounces each!); an outstanding Chinatown-inspired fried lobster with peanuts, kaffir lime and chiles; and a juicy, caramelized double-cut Berkshire pork chop that comes with apple-fennel slaw. We're hoping these items make it onto the menus at Rosebud's other many locations!

• Puerto Rican native Luis Vazquez has been named executive chef at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba. Look for a host of new items paying tribute to his Spanish roots, including seasonally changing Coca (Spanish flatbread inspired from Majorca) and churros that will be made in-house and served with chocolate and cinnamon dipping sauces.

Senza's pork belly with carrots, strawberry and watercress. (Photo: Senza)

• Get ready for some major changes this weekend at the gluten free-focused Senza, in Lakeview. Executive Chef Noah Sandoval is launching an exciting new menu and is also switching over to two, multi-course, prix fixe menus. Guests will now choose from four courses ($50; $25 wine pairings) and nine courses ($100; $50 wine pairings). Highlights on the menu include the Tagliatelle pasta (with chaterelle, artichoke and truffle) and pork belly with carrots, strawberry and watercress.

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