After an early course onslaught of small plates of raw and lightly cured seafood at celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson’s new nautical-inspired C-House, I threw one arm around a back-soothing throw pillow, slunk down in the low banquette, and almost kicked my feet up and lit a smoke. Advertisements


Chris Ware, Grim Gastronomic Griper

Chris Ware, Chicago’s comic laureate, does some culinary related hating in the Nov 24th food issue of New Yorker (you have to be a digital or print subscriber to see the actual panel). The panel depicts a fear and loathing organic macaroni and cheese cooking mother (potentially a descendant of Cathy Guisewite’s cartoon Cathy) who must entertain her architect husband’s clients while enduring post-modern style gastronomy dinners of “molecularly reduced cucumber foam”. Ware’s strip says, “I think aestheticizing the sense of taste is a classist, morally, indefensible notion, a function of privilege rather than of necessity, especially when it comes at such expense…”

Gabbin with Gras

You can run Laurent Gras over, but you can’t stop him. Though Gras, the chef of L20 in Lincoln Park, was hit by a car while cycling earlier this year, he’s already resumed a nineteen-hour workday and kicks out four-hour bike rides on his days off. In the last two months he also picked up best-new-restaurant honors from Esquire magazine and Newcity. I checked in with Gras to see how he was doing post-recovery and to see what was afoot at Chicago’s high-end seafood emporium.

Back up to Big Buns

I like Big Buns and I cannot lie. Though, as with foie gras, Alderman Joe Moore apparently does not. According to a recent local story by Martha Bayne about Sahara Kabob, the artist formerly known as Big Buns and Pita restaurant, Moore asked the owners to take down their pseudo-Vegas like marquee in favor of a more “genteel” awning.

Thyme of His Life

Chef John Bubala owes his career to an envelope stuffed with five bucks and a packet of Kool-Aid. 

Thyme of his life – Chef John Bubala brings on-the-job lessons into classroom

Chef John Bubala owes his career to an envelope stuffed with five bucks and a packet of Kool-Aid. Bubala was entering his fifth year of college and going nowhere fast when his father sent him this curious “care package” as a means of cutting off financial ties. Bubala left school and got a job working the line in a few national franchise kitchens, eventually launching a successful culinary career as chef/owner of Thyme, Timo and Baccala restaurants. After closing Timo in 2007, he joined the staff of Kendall College to teach a new generation of cooks, some of who were probably rationing concentrated drink powder like he had 20 years earlier. For most folks, a time of transition is stressful, but as far as I could tell, Bubala, who was teaching a class on stocks and sauces, seemed to be having the time of his life.  No doubt having free weekends helped, but his class seemed to fuel him. I wanted to know why an independent chef who called his own shots in Chicago for 10 years was so giddy.  And selfishly, I’d also hoped to learn a thing or two about improving my chicken stock. Over a couple of…

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The Next Black Truffle Explosion?

Photo Courtesy: Lara Kastner Tonight, I asked Grant Achatz if I could hug him. Fortunately, he had the foresight to preserve our collective dignity, and he said no. It wasn’t just the glass of Jean Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc, Rhone 2000 talking, either. Rather, it was a dish named Chestnut, quince, chocolate, baked potato.

King of the Court

This weekend, I was chowing down in a mall food court and Tommy Hilfiger was foremost on my mind. It was as if I were reliving my junior high glory days, those times when my mom stuffed me and my posse into the back of our teal Lincoln Town Car, aka the “land yacht” (a nod to its two-and-a-half-Chicago-parallel-parking-space-inhabiting body length) and dropped us off for a parentless afternoon to unleash mayhem on the mall.