Clandestine Chef

Michael Nagrant / 07.29.09

As one of the featured subjects in Mark Caro’s new book, The Foie Gras Wars, Chicago chef Efrain Cuevas and his series of underground dinner parties are emerging into an uncharted spotlight. This month, Cuevas, whose Clandestino dinners get diners down and dirty in the kitchen, hosts a meal inspired by serving vessels made by local ceramics artist Melissa Monroe (who will also make a piece during the event), as well as a “Total Aphrodisiac” dinner to benefit Slow Food Chicago.

A blogger once wrote that she might be in love with you and called you “yum”… It was cool that someone thinks that what we’re doing to raise awareness about where meat comes from is interesting. By raise awareness you’re talking about holding a head-to-tail goat dinner with meat from a goat you killed?

Yeah, we couldn’t do it because of city inspectors.

Why is it important to kill an animal yourself?

If you’re going to eat meat, you should understand where it comes from and be willing to take responsibility for that. I respect every piece of meat I cook, and I only eat responsibly raised meat.

How does it feel to be in a book?

When the foie gras ban passed, I thought it would be cool to do this ‘Screw you [Alderman] Joe Moore’ dinner. Mark called me and asked if he could cover it. I really believe as a chef you need to try everything, and foie lends a richness to food you can’t get from anything else.