The kitchen at owner/chef Mindy Segal’s Hot Chocolate is a one-room schoolhouse of old-school chefs. Â From rendering pork fat from heirloom pigs for her apple turnovers to curing bacon for her winter cassoulet, Segal’s subtle craftsmanship makes Martha Stewart look like a lazy hack.
Segal is a master at exploring textural variations for singular ingredients in her desserts. Â Her legendary dishes — such as the Banana Volume VI, a banana cream pie with caramelized bananas, banana sherbet, butterscotch and fudge — make hers the must-stop sweet shop in town.
While her sweets IQ has elevated her as one of Chicago’s most recognized chefs, her haute comfort food — a Reuben full of house-brined corned beef or mac and cheese studded with rich Grand Cru Roth Kase — proves that she’s also a savory wiz.
Q. What do you wish you could pickle/change about the Chicago restaurant/food scene?
A. To preserve the camaraderie and support that all the Chicago chefs extend to each other.
Q.Â What would your last meal be?
A. A pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli in New York.
Q. Where do you eat before or after a shift?
A. After every shift you can find me at the Map Room, 1949 N. Hoyne, enjoying a craft beer.
Q. What’s the can’t-miss dish at Hot Chocolate?
A. Most everything is can’t-miss because we cook seasonally and any dish won’t be on the menu for long.
Q. What should we know about Hot Chocolate that we probably don’t?
A. Our savory food is just as good, if not better, than the desserts.
Hot Chocolate; 1747 North Damen Avenue, Chicago (773) 489-1747