He is a chef mostly by osmosis. Amjad Kahn, owner of Khan BBQ in West Rogers Park, helped his mom chop vegetables and toast spices on occasion, but mostly he just watched her cook in his childhood home in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Advertisements
When chef Edward Kim and his partners Vicki Kim (his sister) and Jenny Kim (no relation) opened Asian-French-Latin mashup Ruxbin in Noble Square, Chicago got that once-in-a-blue moon restaurant. It was a very personal venture serving kimchi- and Oaxacan cheese-stuffed empanadas and soy gelee with horseradish granita amidst repurposed church pews, and diners went crazy for it. I wondered, with their second effort–Mott St, an Asian night market-inspired spot just a few blocks north–would they rise above again?
You might not have heard of Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio, but he has 33 restaurants around the world, including Astrid y Gaston in Lima, which ranked one spot higher (#14) on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 list than Chicago’s celebrated Alinea. Tanta, his newest spot in River North, is only his third restaurant in the United States. While Tanta, billed as a casual cebicheria (heavy on citrus-cured seafood), isn’t shooting to be a four-star restaurant like Astrid y Gaston, it displays the mark of a very talented chef.
Chef David Burke (of Primehouse plus many NYC-based restaurants) is the P.T. Barnum of chefs. As evidenced by his current survival on “Top Chef Masters,” Burke is a great cook, but he’s an even better storyteller. The first time I ever met him, he asked if he could see my hand. I was a little confused; I hardly knew the guy, but he looked like he was about to propose. Then he whipped out what looked like a perfume mister, spritzed my wrist and said, “Smell that!” It was the unmistakable essence of bacon, courtesy of his newest line of flavor sprays. As the inventor of edible bacon perfume, it was only a matter of time before he opened Burke’s Bacon Bar (with Primehouse’s Rick Gresh as executive chef), the one sandwich shop that could finally prove the axiom that bacon makes everything better. I stopped in to see if indeed it does.
Like a Quentin Tarantino movie, my visit to the new Logan Square taqueria L’ Patron started out charming, unfamiliar and quirky. But, unfortunately, also like a Tarantino movie, it ends in chaotic disaster.