Jason Hammel


Nightwood (2119 S. Halsted St.), the second restaurant from Lula Cafe co-owner’s Amalea Tshilds and Jason Hammel and partners Kevin Heisner and Matt Eisler, is set to debut in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. I sat down with Hammel last December in anticipation of the opening to talk about Lula, his cooking philosophy, and the new restaurant. In the following podcast interview he talks about his old writing mentor, the late David Foster Wallace, the impromptu ping pong games in the basement during the early years at Lula, and the importance of the French Laundry cookbook. I apologize for the background noise on this one as we recorded it in the busy front room of Lula cafe. Enjoy.

Curtis Duffy


Is getting four hours of sleep a night the secret to staying young? What does snail caviar taste like? Can you wear a punk rock t-shirt and jeans to dinner at the four star restaurant Avenues at the Peninsula hotel? All these answers and more can be found in our recent podcast interview with chef Curtis Duffy of Avenues. Duffy, formerly of Charlie Trotter’s, Trio, and Alinea, is putting out food on par with those giants and is one of Chicago’s most promising young chefs.  

Marcus Samuelsson


If, as restaurant lore suggests, many chefs come from the ranks of artists, bandits and miscellaneous misfits, then Marcus Samuelsson, executive chef of C-House (166 E. Superiorr) and Marc Burger at Macy’s on State is, by comparison, a prince. The youngest chef to receive three stars from the New York Times, he’s also an entrepreneur, a TV personality, a cookbook author and a tireless ambassador for Swedish and African culinary and cultural heritage. He’s as much an intellectual as he is a master culinary craftsman. More importantly, those of you who read my burger round-up a few weeks ago know he also makes a mean grilled patty. Samuelsson was in town last week to work on some new dishes at C-House and I caught up with him to see what’s on his mind. Enjoy.  

Randy Zweiban


Everyone knows drummers are different, and Randy Zweiban, former cymbal sockin’ chef of the upcoming Province, is no exception. He’s no Food Network driven flash-in-the-pan blowing through job after job. Zweiban’s a serial monogamist who spent 7 years working with Norman Van Aken in Miami and a decade at Nacional 27. Now he’s about to debut Province, a Spanish and Latin influenced American cuisine based restaurant. In this podcast interview, Zweiban talks about his days gigging at CBGB’s, noshing in New York City, and opening a restaurant at the “worst time in 150 years”. Enjoy.