Chicago restaurant impresario Jerry Kleiner (Marche, Red Light, Opera, Carnivale) makes PT Barnum look like a cheap sideshow hack. Every spot he opens nowadays is a multi-million dollar extravaganza outfitted with his personal design aesthetic, one which I like to characterize as Moulin Rouge on acid. Kleiner’s newest project is Room 21, a glammed up American style bistro. In our podcast we talk about how his future goal is to bring the Kleiner flare to the common man (Kleiner diner anyone), the secrets to being an urban pioneer, and his ultimate dinner party guest list. Advertisements
You’d think the revered concubine of the Scientology movement could afford a high-level food consigliere, someone to tell her where the truly best eats are. Instead, it turns out Mrs. Tom Cruise, nee Katie Holmes, probably listens to what some second-rate concierge at a high-priced Michigan Avenue hotel told her last time she was in Chicago. You see, according to last week’s People magazine, Holmes recently brought in frozen Gino’s East deep-dish pizza for the crew of her current film “Mad Money.”
Most chefs are downright intellectual about cutting-edge ingredients, but it’s rare to find talented cooks who also can rock the accounting books. That’s why Shelley Young, who transformed her small, antique cookware shop and cooking school the Chopping Block into a Chicago institution, is like the Donald Trump of cooking. (Though, her pixieish haircut is more stylish than his bouffant comb-over.)
Lthforum, the Chicago food forum, is big in Sweden. How big? You’ll just have to listen to find out. During this podcast I sit down with five of Chicago’s culinary tastemakers to celebrate the three year anniversary of their internet chat site, Lthforum.com. We cover everything from the founding and naming of the forum, to journalistic ethics, to the politics of internet food chat. It should be noted, that one of the moderaters Aaron Deacon was not present, and that there are five additional founding members who we’re not part of this podcast. This podcast is definitely for hardcore Chicago foodies, and runs 1 hour 52 minutes. If you want to listen to particular aspects of the podcast, I’ve indexed the discussion below. INDEX 0-18:47 Introductions and a discussion of transformative food moments of the LTH crew 18:47-47:09: Hiding behind internet anonymity, the founding of LTH, and can you eat find great regional food items outside of their region of origin? 47:09 – 1 hr 5 min: The forums effect on local media and how the forum got it’s name 1 hr 5 min – 1 hr 22 min: Food Journalism ethics and last meals on earth
What if you found out your girlfriend slept with your best friend five minutes before your first reservation at Charlie Trotters? Assuming you didn’t jump off one of Chicago’s movable-span bridges or cancel the reservation and go kick your friend’s ass instead, no matter how much caviar topped your third-course terrine, I bet it would probably be one of the worst meals of your life.
Dressed in crisp chef whites, with his well-kept salt-and-pepper beard, chef Erwin Drechsler often mans the maitre d’ station at his eponymous restaurant, peering out over his reading glasses to scan for your reservation or bidding you a hearty “adieu.” His approach harkens back to the tradition of chefs like Fernand Point of La Pyramide, who make it their mission to sate the soul as well as the palate.
Taming the hellfire swelter of kitchen stoves and manning the scalding steam bath of power dishwashers, Latinos provide the backbone for many Chicago kitchens. Despite their integral part in building the world-class food reputation our city enjoys, few Latinos have crossed the line that divides the help from the helm.
Grant Achatz is the culinary Barack Obama. If you stacked all the press that positively chronicles his rise, you’d have a glossy skyscraper of Sears Tower proportions. Where his peers, evolutionary gastronomists like Homaro Cantu at Moto, have endured scathing criticism, Achatz has been a Teflon Don. The worst thing anyone has written was when GQ’s Alan Richman said Achatz’s food was “a little too safe.”
Susan Goss’ restaurants have been featured on TV and in magazines like Gourmet, but she’s not one of those crazy fusionist, Food Network-reared chefs obsessed with celebrity. She’s a purist who cooks for the love of it. She knows sometimes the life that surrounds food is just as important as the food itself. It brings friends and family together, builds community and forms the basis of strong traditions. Her first Chicago spot, Zinfandel, focused on traditions by spotlighting the regional cuisines of America. Her current restaurant, West Town Tavern, is the kind of place where a boisterous spirit always rings. Settling under the old tin ceiling into the wood-backed chairs for a night of duck confit or Goss’ famous beer cheese feels like kicking back on your own sofa. The golden glow from the wood-framed windows and hardwood floors beckon neighborhood folks and Chicagoans at large to return time and again. Q. What do you wish you could change or pickle about the Chicago restaurant scene? A. The variety of neighborhood restaurants. There aren’t a lot of cities where you can get amazing food, so much ethnic variety and all at a decent price from owners who have an incredible…
It’s often said that loose women are trying to replace the memory of their absent fathers by sleeping with a trove of men. This might explain some things.