This month, I sit down with Chef Carol Wallack of Sola. On the eve of Sola’s second anniversary, we spoke about her old schoolmate, Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery and Mozza fame, the challenges women chefs face in a male dominated world, and Wallack’s attempts to become a pro surfer. Advertisements
Chef Sean Eastwood earned unanimous critical acclaim with his first spot, suburban Geneva’s Isabella Estiatorio. Now he’s bringing his Mediterranean/Greek inspired cuisine to the big city. He and his partner Dean Georgelos are expected to unveil OLO (stands for Olives, Lemons, and Oregano – the holy trinity of Greek/Med cooking) in mid-February at 1152 W. Randolph St. In this podcast we talk about his travels abroad, the centerpiece of the new restaurant, a wood burning oven (from the same folks who made Chez Panisse’s wood burning oven), and so much more. Enjoy.
Chef Frank Brunacci was slinging shark bacon and olive oil ice cream at a restaurant in New Orleans way before most of today’s molecular gastronomists broke out the lasers and liquid nitrogen. Despite his innovative approaches, he’s more of a haute comfort food purveyor than a food scientist. One thing’s for certain, his alchemy was good enough to charm the Donald, and so Brunacci has been tapped to open the flagship restaurant 16 in the new Trump hotel and Towers in the loop this December.
Like a baby boomer Justin Timberlake, Old Town Brasserie owner Bob Djahanguiri is on a quest to bring sexy back, or in his parlance, “romance.” In the ’80s and early ’90s, Djahanguiri—who opened hot spots like Toulouse and Yvette—was the grand master of the Chicago night circus, hosting visiting celebrities like Liza Minnelli and Harry Connick Jr. Once, Mikhail Baryshnikov and his posse danced on Djahanguiri’s pianos way past the 4 a.m. closing time.
Sepia restaurant (123 N. Jefferson) is located right around the corner from Blackbird and Avec. Based on the incredibly smoky octopus and creamy pork rillete with bacon pistachio brittle alone, we have the feeling Sepia might just join these two spots as another local fave. In our opinion, it’s one of the best restaurant openings of 2007. Here’s an interview with Sepia’s owner Emmanuel Nony and opening chef Kendal Duque.
For this month’s podcast, I sit down with chef Richard Sandoval of Mexx Kitchen at the Whiskey (1015 N. Rush St.) a man noted for Asian-inflected and modern Mexican flair at spots like Zengo in Denver and Maya in New York City. Sandoval’s genius is in his willingness to punch you with the heat of chilis and then sooth with a bit of citrus or sweet.
This month I sit down with Natalie Zarzour, Andersonville’s Sicilian pastry queen. Zarzour breathes life into cannoli at her shop Pasticceria Natalina located at 5406 N. Clark St.. In this podcast, we talk about how native Sicilians respond to her pastry, her love of Sophia Loren, and the struggle to achieve authenticity.
Monday, July 9th, Jerry’s Wicker Park (or as we’re calling it: Jerry’s 2:Electric Bugaloo) opens. While owners Mindy Friedler and Mark Bires derisively refer to Jerry’s I as a “Super Subway,” their attention to detail—like using an iceberg and arugula lettuce blend for both crunch and flavor, smoking meats and fish in a log-burning smoker and whipping up homemade condiments like chipotle chutney—make Jerry’s a palace of sandwich craft. Located at 1938 W. Division St., the new place features a more sophisticated design, with handcrafted chandeliers made from serving spoons and a flagstone-style fireplace, a community gathering space and a few anticipated additions to the menu: plated desserts and American craft beers.
Ambria closed on Saturday after a strong 27 year run. This podcast is a tribute to the chef who built Ambria, and who also brought us Spanish tapas at Cafe Babareeba and French Bistro at Mon Ami Gabi, Gabino Sotelino.
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.