WBEZ | Chicago dining http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-dining Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'Shark Week' fuels shark-meat feeding frenzy at restaurants http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-restaurants-110632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mako-tacos_slide-f11f760df53a04ca706a264b9f1bfffb35b87775-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Discovery Channel set <a href="http://www.deadline.com/2013/08/shark-week-snaps-up-ratings-records-for-discovery-channel/" target="_blank">viewership records</a> in 2013 as millions of people tuned in to watch sharks feed, sharks attack, extinct giant sharks and researchers catch and tag sharks. Discovery&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/shark-week/tv-shows/tv-shows.htm" target="_blank">Shark Week</a>&quot; returned on Sunday, and this year, to the dismay of conservationists, restaurants and markets nationwide are feeding the frenzy with a slew of shark meat promotions.</p><p>Shortfin mako shark, a slow-growing fish whose numbers are declining, seems to be the species of choice. It&#39;s being featured on menus all over the country &mdash; at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DocMagrogansOysterHouseUniversityCity" target="_blank">Doc Magrogan&#39;s Oyster House</a> in Philadelphia; <a href="http://www.sybergs.com/MENU/MAINMENU.aspx" target="_blank">Syberg&#39;s</a>, a small restaurant chain in St. Louis; <a href="http://www.sandbaraz.com/site/" target="_blank">Sandbar Mexican Grill</a>, with locations in Chandler, Ariz., and Phoenix; and <a href="http://gtoyster.com/pages/about.php" target="_blank">GT Fish and Oyster</a> in Chicago. In Louisiana, has a special on blacktip shark fillets at $4.99 a pound. Twitter is meanwhile over Shark Week specials, which often feature shark tacos and shark-themed cocktails.</p><p>Michael Clark, a sales rep with Fortune Fish And Gourmet, a seafood supplier outside Chicago, tells The Salt he has never seen such high interest in shark meat.</p><p>&quot;In 12 or 13 years, we have had virtually nobody looking for shark, but this year [for Shark Week] people are jumping all over it,&quot; says Clark, who is currently carrying Atlantic shortfin mako shark sourced from a supplier on the East Coast of Canada.</p><p>Shortfin makos are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/overview#introduction" target="_blank">red list</a>&quot; of species at risk of extinction. The Atlantic population is declining and &quot;<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161749/0" target="_blank">vulnerable</a>,&quot; with numbers estimated to be as low as just 30 percent of the species&#39; historic levels.</p><p><a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161751/0" target="_blank">Pacific</a> shortfin makos are also slowly disappearing, according to the IUCN, though their population may be in better shape than their Atlantic cousins. The Monterey Bay Aquarium&#39;s <a href="http://mobile.seafoodwatch.org/fish/103/shark" target="_blank">Seafood Watch</a> program calls shortfin mako from California and Hawaii a &quot;good alternative&quot; to more vulnerable options, but generally recommends against consuming shark.</p><p>Conservationists working to protect sharks are disappointed in the shark-eating craze being fueled by Shark Week.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s opportunistic,&quot; says Sean Van Sommeran, founder of the <a href="http://www.pelagic.org/" target="_blank">Pelagic Shark Research Foundation</a> in Santa Cruz. &quot;[Restaurants] are using the celebrity of sharkism to sell more tacos than they normally would.&quot;</p><p>Angelo Villagomez, with the Pew Charitable Trusts&#39; Global Shark Conservation campaign, notes that the Atlantic shortfin mako&#39;s &quot;vulnerable&quot; IUCN rating is the same as that of the polar bear. &quot;But you wouldn&#39;t want to eat polar bear tacos,&quot; he says.</p><p>In fact, some restaurants have specifically chosen not to serve shark during Shark Week because of customer concerns. The Lancaster Taphouse in Saskatchewan, for example, planned to serve mako shark last August. But an outcry on social media caused managers to turn tail and yank the item off the menu, <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/morningedition/episode/2013/08/05/shark-not-on-the-menu/index.html?cmp=rss&amp;utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">according to</a> CBC News.</p><p>In spite of declining populations, the number of shortfin mako sharks landed by fishermen has actually been on the rise since 2006. That year, American commercial fishermen reported catching about 222,000 pounds of the fish, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By 2012, that figure had grown to nearly 389,000 pounds.</p><p>Catches of most other shark species are at all-time lows, according to Villagomez. He says this is not because of decreasing demand but decreasing shark numbers. &quot;We&#39;ve hit &#39;peak shark,&#39; &quot; he jokes.</p><p>Fishermen worldwide kill between 70 and 100 million sharks every year. Most are killed for their fins, which are sliced off the animals and, eventually, dried and used to <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2011/10/21/141587542/photos-show-sheer-scale-of-shark-fin-trade" target="_blank">make shark fin soup</a>. Often, the rest of the carcass is thrown overboard.</p><p>While Americans seem to hunger more for shark during Shark Week, China has a much larger year-round appetite.</p><p><a href="http://www.wildaid.org/about" target="_blank">WildAid</a>, a San Francisco group dedicated to marine protection, has been campaigning to curb the demand for shark fins in China. The efforts may be working. According to a WildAid <a href="http://wildaid.org/sites/default/files/SharkReport_spread_final_08.07.14.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released Aug. 4, prices for shark fins are down about 50 percent in China, where fishermen are also receiving 80 percent less money for the product. And 85 percent of about 1,500 Chinese consumers surveyed online by WildAid said they&#39;d stopped eating shark fin soup in the past three years, largely out of sympathy for sharks.</p><p>WildAid&#39;s founder Peter Knights says he isn&#39;t particularly bothered that a few American restaurants are serving shark meat, given the overwhelming global demand for their fins. In fact, Knights is more concerned about Shark Week itself.</p><p>&quot;I think Shark Week does more damage to sharks than eating the occasional shark in a restaurant,&quot; Knights says. &quot;Shark Week is all about vilifying sharks. They always have about 20 shows about shark attacks and none about what&#39;s happening to shark populations.&quot;</p><p>He adds: &quot;It would be nice if people didn&#39;t start to desire shark meat as well [as their fins], but I guess if you&#39;re going to kill a shark, it&#39;s better to use 85 percent of it rather than one to five percent.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/11/339579328/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-at-restaurants">via NPR&#39;s The Salt blog</a></em></p></p> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-restaurants-110632 No more reservations: Exclusive restaurants require tickets instead http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead-110624 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/next-kitchen_slide-f12e40b01b21d2fe3c0e2984fca1727556c7f9c5-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Have you ever wanted a ticket to see your favorite band so much that you could taste it?</p><p>You set the alarm, and start calling or clicking right when the tickets go on sale. You try again and again, until, finally, you snag a ticket. And even though the process is a pain, when you succeed, you feel like part of an exclusive group.</p><p>In the future, going out to eat could become a lot like going to a sold-out rock concert. In fact, some of the hottest restaurants now sell tickets instead of taking reservations.</p><p>In Los Angeles, classically trained French chef <a href="http://www.ludolefebvre.com/about/" target="_blank">Ludovic &quot;Ludo&quot; Lefebvre</a> sells tickets for a five-course meal at his 29-seat bistro, Trois Mec, for about $100 a pop, including tax and tip. On one recent evening, the menu featured avocado citrus crab ceviche followed by veal belly with crispy artichoke and Parmesan.</p><p>Lefebvre says he likes the comparison to concert tickets. When asked about the to-die-for concert ticket when he was growing up in France in the late 1980s, Lebebvre doesn&#39;t hesitate. &quot;U2. Definitely. U2,&quot; he says. One time, he waited on the phone for what seemed like forever, but finally scored tickets to see Bono and the lads.</p><p>Now, Lefebvre is a rock star chef. Tickets to dine at Trois Mec are sold online and sell out in minutes.</p><p>The restaurant ticketing system was invented by <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/pub/nick-kokonas/45/634/2a1" target="_blank">Nick Kokonas</a> in 2011. He co-owns Chicago restaurant Next, which specializes in theme menus, such as &quot;Paris 1906,&quot; a meal based on legendary chef August Escoffier&#39;s seminal <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Escoffier-Culinaire-Complete-Translation-English/dp/0831754788/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1407179720&amp;sr=1-2&amp;keywords=le+guide+culinaire+escoffier" target="_blank">Le Guide Culinaire</a>, and &quot;el Bulli,&quot; a nod to the now-closed Spanish temple of modern cuisine by the same name.</p><p>Tickets for Next meals go for about $300 a head for several courses and beverage pairings. Currently, the restaurant&#39;s theme is &quot;Chinese: Modern.&quot;</p><p>The menus at Next change three times a year. So diners can buy season tickets, like you would for the opera. Last December, the restaurant sold around $3 million worth of season tickets in a few hours.</p><p>The number of exclusive eateries that sell tickets for meals is growing. The latest chef to join the club is <a href="http://www.starchefs.com/cook/chefs/bio/Daniel-Patterson/coi" target="_blank">Daniel Patterson</a>, who owns the San Francisco restaurant Coi.</p><p>Patterson had been frustrated by the number of reservations that were canceled at the last minute, which resulted in as much as 15 percent of his tables going empty. And that got reflected in customers&#39; bills. &quot;A big part of our price has to do with the fact that a small portion of our guests don&#39;t show up,&quot; he says.</p><p>Now that he&#39;s adopted the ticket system for his restaurant, Patterson saves money on no-shows. He passes that savings along to customers, offering a discount for diners who take early or late seatings.</p><p>The issue of no-shows plagues many small, chic restaurants. That makes tickets even more appetizing for them.</p><p>Ticket pioneer Kokonas says, &quot;We are rolling it out to about 10 to 20 restaurants over the next couple of months worldwide.&quot;</p><p>Over the next six months, expect to see tickets sold at hot spots in Austin, Texas; Boston and Philadelphia, among other cities in the U.S. Abroad, Kokonas says his ticket business model will expand to England, Europe, Australia and Hong Kong.</p><p>But some chefs are resisting the change &mdash; even in Los Angeles, no-show central.</p><p>&quot;Within the restaurateur world, LA is known as the one city where people don&#39;t have any respect for restaurants,&quot; says celebrity chef <a href="http://www.curtisstone.com/" target="_blank">Curtis Stone</a>. &quot;They don&#39;t make reservations. They just show up ... with more people than they booked for.&quot;</p><p>Stone opened his 25-seat restaurant, Maude, last January. It takes reservations the old-fashioned way: by phone. And it&#39;s always sold out.</p><p>Stone has investigated the ticket business model and found that it has some shortcomings.</p><p>&quot;Problem is,&quot; says Stone, &quot;some people out there don&#39;t feel as comfortable with computers or making reservations online.&quot;</p><p>Tickets also require consumers to pay for their set, multicourse meal in advance.</p><p>And tickets can be resold, which has lured ticket brokers into the market. For the most desirable menu at Next in Chicago, Kokonas says, there were &quot;people posting them on Craigslist and StubHub for a couple thousand dollars apiece.&quot;</p><p>Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer <a href="http://www.pulitzer.org/biography/2007-Criticism" target="_blank">Jonathan Gold</a> of the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> calls Lefebvre one of the most interesting chefs working in the U.S. And even Gold has had trouble getting tickets to Trois Mec. As payback for having to troll for tickets, he jokes, &quot;I would love to see scalpers outside Trois Mec. It would give me so much pleasure.&quot;</p><p>Call it a dessert of sweet revenge.</p><p><em>Jeff Tyler is a radio reporter and screenwriter living in Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/05/337834577/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s The Salt blog on Aug. 5</a></em></em></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/no-more-reservations-exclusive-restaurants-require-tickets-instead-110624 Good Food Festival kicks off its 10th year http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/good-food-festival-kicks-its-10th-year-109859 <p><p>Local foods are hot.</p><p>And not just among the usual suspects.</p><p>Nationwide, the number of farmers markets has doubled over the last decade to more than 8,000. And Illinois trails only California and New York state when it comes to the number of farmers markets it hosts.</p><p>In Chicago this time of year, nowhere is this growing hunger for local food more evident than in the 10 year old Good Food Festival.</p><p>Jim Slama, president of FamilyFarmed.org, explains that it&rsquo;s both a financing conference and food festival that has grown considerably since its first modest year.</p><p>&ldquo;The first year was at Kendall College, which was not even open yet at the Goose Island campus,&rdquo; he remembered. &ldquo;Howard Tullman gave us half a floor. There were still studs on the walls. We had 50 tables for farmers, 300 people showed up. Paul Kahan gave the keynote. It was such a hit that we said &lsquo;you know what, let&rsquo;s add a consumer show and take it to Navy Pier&rsquo; (which we did the next year) and make this into the gathering place for the sustainable local food movement in Chicago.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />This year&rsquo;s event featured speeches by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CEO of Whole Foods Walter Robb and 1871 CEO Howard Tullman. That was part of the food financing fair and symposium.&nbsp; It was all about making deals, growing entrepreneurs and connecting organizations like Chicago Public Schools, McCormick Place and Lettuce Entertain You with local farmers to supply their foods.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GOOD%20FOOD%20FEST%202.JPG" style="height: 263px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Community supported agriculture (or CSAs) has exploded in the Chicago area over the past decade. This Saturday Chicagoans can shop for CSA’s, which include summer produce deliveries, at the Good Food Festival. (Courtesy of Vie)" />Slama says he has been incrementally building these relationships for years with his organization Family Farmed.org</p><p>&ldquo;[Last] year when Eataly came to town, they called us and said &lsquo;we want local food&rsquo;,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Now when you go to Eataly you will see they have a lot of local food and these are the kinds of relationships we help to build.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p><br />But Saturday&rsquo;s events are aimed at the consumer, the foodie and local food-loving families, says Slama.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got seven James Beard-recognized chefs doing demos,&rdquo; he said.&rdquo;Rick Bayless leads it off. He&rsquo;s getting this Good Food Chef of the Year award. Jason Vincent, Erling Wu Bower and Paul Virant are also doing demos. It&rsquo;s also a whole lot of fun with workshops and 160 vendors. Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn are doing a three-hour workshop on butchering and people will learn to cure their own meats. And they are using a Greg Gunthorp hog. It&rsquo;s just really a very fun day for people and families.&rdquo;</p><p>Full disclosure: I am mediating a panel at one of the Saturday workshops about brewing your own fermented sodas and kombucha. Don&rsquo;t know what those are?</p><p>&ldquo;Kombucha is an awesome fermented beverage using a funky symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast on top that ferments the sweetened tea into a lightly sweet beverage,&rdquo; says brewing panelist and creator of fermup.com Brendan Byers. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll be focusing more on the fermented soda side of things, using a wild yeast and bacteria culture that someone can catch similar to sourdough.&rdquo;</p><p>Over the years, the Saturday portion of the festival has also become the premier marketplace for CSA shopping. These are shares you can buy in a farm in exchange for a weekly box of fresh produce during the growing season. Dozens of farms will be presenting their plans and signing up customers in the CSA pavillion Saturday.&nbsp; Many of them will also be part of a &ldquo;Band of Farmers&rdquo; talent show that evening aimed at raising CSA awareness. Organizer Jody Osmund of Cedar Valley Sustainable Farms, does a performance art piece to Tim Minchin&rsquo;s song Canvas Bags. But what about the others?</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll have everything from poetry to last year we had political puppetry,&rdquo; Osmund said. &ldquo;Of course, we&rsquo;ll have music. One of the bands is hairy vetch, kind of playing on the cover crop names. Last year there was roller dancing and performance dance, synchronized with pitchforks and farm implements.&rdquo;</p><p>But Osmund promises that&rsquo;s not all. &ldquo;Returning this year is the farmer fashion show, where the farmers will present their favorite farm duds on stage.&rdquo;</p><p>With this explosion of farmers markets, home butchering, farm shares and even farmer talent shows, it&rsquo;s clear that urban and rural food world are coming together in ways they haven&rsquo;t in a very long time.</p><p><strong>Note:<em> </em></strong><em>If you are reading this on Friday afternoon, you still have time to attend the Good Food Festival&rsquo;s Localicious event from 7 to 9 p.m. at the UIC Forum. It features several of Chicago&rsquo;s top chefs serving dishes made from local ingredients as well as offerings from craft brewers of the Midwest. Tickets and information at goodfoodfestivals.com</em></p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng">Chewing the Fat</a>&nbsp;podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/good-food-festival-kicks-its-10th-year-109859 PETA urges Publican to serve fake meat http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/peta-urges-publican-serve-fake-meat-109537 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 9.39.39 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>The recent skirmish between PETA and the Publican (and Publican Quality Meats) took a new turn Friday when the animal rights group called on the restaurant and butcher to serve fake meat.</p><p>Earlier in the week the Publican team wrote a thoughtful online response to PETAs anti-meat billboard that went up across the street. And Friday the group sent an official response back.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/do-vegans-and-peta-hurt-their-cause-when-they-attack-sustainable-butchers-and">Do vegans hurt their cause when they target sustainable butchers? &nbsp;</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk said the Publican team &ldquo;opened the door for a respectful conversation about what we eat, and now PETA is hoping it&#39;ll open the door of its restaurant to Chicago&#39;s many vegetarians and vegans.&quot;&nbsp; Specifically, the letter asks the restaurant to add a &ldquo;vegan, faux-meat dish to the menu.&rdquo;</p><p>The Publican responded Friday afternoon by saying: &quot;As an organization it is our priority to be inclusive to all. Publican Quality Meats&#39; menu always features a variety of vegetarian and vegan options featuring high quality ingredients and thoughtful execution...One favorite on Publican Quality Meats&#39; current menu is the Squash Tartine with roasted squash, squash and goat cheese puree, kale, sunflower seeds and pomegranate dressing. We look forward to a continued positive relationship.&quot;<br /><br /><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing the Fat podcast. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a> or email her at meng@wbez.org</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 18 Jan 2014 09:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/peta-urges-publican-serve-fake-meat-109537 Chicago chef Charlie Trotter dead at 54 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-chef-charlie-trotter-dead-54-109085 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120224136958.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Award-winning chef Charlie Trotter has died, a year after closing his eponymous Chicago restaurant that is credited with elevating the city&#39;s cuisine and providing a training ground for some of the nation&#39;s other best chefs.</p><p>Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford says rescue crews were called around 10 a.m. Tuesday to the Lincoln Park home of the award-winning chef, where they found Trotter unresponsive.</p><p>Langford says an ambulance crew transported Trotter to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died after unsuccessful attempts to revive him.</p><p>&ldquo;We are incredibly shocked and deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of Charlie,&quot; his wife, Rochelle Trotter, said&nbsp;in a statement. &quot;His impact upon American cuisine and the culinary world at large will always be remembered.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>Fellow chef Emeril Lagasse also offered a statement to WBEZ Tuesday that described his friendship with Trotter.</p><p>&ldquo;My brother, Charlie and I go way back. Charlie, myself and Norman (Van Aken) had a triangle,&quot; he wrote. &quot;We travelled the world together, raised our families together&hellip;Charlie was a visionary, an unbelievable Chef that brought American cuisine to new heights. We have lost a tremendous human being and an incredible chef and restaurateur. It&rsquo;s a very sad day and my heart goes out to Charlie&rsquo;s family.&rdquo;</p><p>Master Sommelier Larry Stone served as Trotter&#39;s sommelier in the &#39;80s and &#39;90s, and returned to help wind down the restaurant last year. Stone says that Trotter&#39;s family and friends had been concerned for years over weak arteries in the chef&#39;s brain.</p><p>&quot;We all were concerned about his health and it&#39;s sad that it wound up this way,&quot; Stone said Tuesday. &quot;He had some problems that were incurable with weak arteries and an aneurysm in the brain. He was aware of it for several years, and by the time he quit he had a fatalistic approach to that. Nothing could be done for it. It was a ticking time bomb, so to speak, and it went off.&quot;</p><p>The Cook County medical examiners office is planning an autopsy for Wednesday. A candlelight vigil is expected Tuesday afternoon at the site of Trotter&#39;s shuttered restaurant.</p><p>Trotter is synonymous with gourmet cuisine, earning 10 James Beard Awards and providing a training ground for some of the city&#39;s top chefs, such as Graham Elliot Bowles, Matthias Merges, Bill Kim, Grant Achatz, Homaro Cantu, Curtis Duffy and Giuseppe Tentori.</p><p>Charlie Trotter&#39;s earned two stars when the highly respected Michelin Guide debuted in Chicago.</p><p>A self-taught chef, Trotter wrote more than a dozen cookbooks and starred in a PBS series, &quot;The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter.&quot; He credited the development of his signature style to his travels in the U.S. and Europe after college and dining at the best restaurants.&nbsp;</p><p>In 1987 Trotter opened Charlie Trotter&rsquo;s putting Chicago on the culinary map with his innovative nouvelle American cuisine that emphasized farm-to-table sourcing.</p><p>Last year, Trotter announced he planned to close his famed eponymous restaurant after 25 years. He planned to go back to grad school.</p><p>In March 2012 he told WBEZ&rsquo;s Steve Edwards, &ldquo;I had re-read Robert Graves&rsquo; &lsquo;Goodbye To All That,&rsquo; his memoir to his time in the war,&rdquo; Trotter said, &ldquo;and I thought that sometimes you just have to stop what you&rsquo;re doing now and do something very different or I&rsquo;ll never do it.&rdquo;</p><p>Protégé and chef Graham Elliot Bowles released a statement Tuesday saying:</p><p>&ldquo;Charlie Trotter was a mentor in both my professional and personal life since I first met him over fifteen years ago. His dedication to excellence, the city of Chicago and the culinary world at large inspired countless cooks to find their own voice and follow their dreams. He now belongs to the ages.&rdquo;</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s office also released a statement Tuesday saying:</p><p>&ldquo;Charlie Trotter changed Chicago&rsquo;s restaurant scene forever and played a leading role in elevating the city to the culinary capital it is today.&nbsp; Charlie&rsquo;s personality mirrored his cooking &ndash; bold, inventive and always memorable.&nbsp; Charlie Trotter will&nbsp;be remembered for serving the finest food and his generous philanthropy, and he will always have a seat at the table among Chicago&rsquo;s legendary figures.&rdquo;</p><p>Long-time Trotter sommelier Joseph Spellman said Tuesday that he was shocked and saddened by his friend&#39;s death.</p><p>&quot;The greatest part of what he did was challenge anyone who worked with him to dig deep and find the level of excellence he knew they had within them,&quot; Spellman said, &quot; and then to dig deeper to find even greater excellence, creativity, class and hospitality.&quot;</p><p>Since Trotter closed his iconic 60-seat restaurant in 2012, he ran into legal troubles.</p><p>This summer, he was sued by two New York wine collectors who say he sold them a bottle of wine for more than $46,000 that wasn&#39;t what it said on the label.</p><p>The Trotter family says memorial service details will be forthcoming.</p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 13:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-chef-charlie-trotter-dead-54-109085 New service brings chefs into diners’ homes http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/new-service-brings-chefs-diners%E2%80%99-homes-108030 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/hotinthekitchen(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-1d6a44c3-cee8-02f0-972d-8c829a342bf2">A new online service will allow Chicagoans to hire local chefs to prepare a meal in their kitchen.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago branch of <a href="http://www.kitchensurfing.com/chicago">Kitchensurfing</a> recently launched its website, which offers a list of 47 chefs who will pick up the groceries, cook a meal of the diner&rsquo;s choice and even clean up.</p><p dir="ltr">The company joins a growing number of businesses in Chicago that bring chefs to unusual places, from <a href="http://www.wbez.org/dolinsky/2010/01/are-you-on-the-guest-list-underground-dinners-gain-foothold-in-chicago/11822">underground supper clubs</a> to companies that offer similar services such as weekly meals made in the diner&rsquo;s home. Some offer in-home cooking lessons.</p><p dir="ltr">Kitchensurfing&rsquo;s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Chris Muscarella said his business &nbsp;started in New York and expects to do well in Chicago&rsquo;s foodie culture.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;People entertain more at home here than they do in a place like they do in New York, where people have smaller spaces,&rdquo; Muscarella said. &ldquo;But they also really enjoy dining and food (as) witnessed by the burgeoning restaurant scene in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Muscarella said the company plans to add more chefs to its roster.</p><p><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/jclee89" target="_blank">@jclee89</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 13:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/new-service-brings-chefs-diners%E2%80%99-homes-108030 WhiskyWeek, smelt month top list of best Chicago food and drink events this week http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-04/whiskyweek-smelt-month-top-list-best-chicago-food-and-drink-events-week <p><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" and="" at="" calumet="" chicago="" class="image-original_image" fisheries="" in="" louisa="" seafood="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/smeltscalumetfisheries.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Fried smelts and seafood at Calumet Fisheries in Chicago" wbez="" /></div><p><strong>Friday, April 19</strong></p><p><em><a href="http://www.hscillinois.org/Calendar_of_Events.html"><u>67th annual Smelt Fry</u></a> at the Harvard Sportsman&rsquo;s Club.&nbsp;</em>&quot;All the smelt you can eat!&quot; Plus cole slaw, potato chips, bread, relishes, and beverages. By beverages I mean pop and most definitely beer. Not craft brews, but I&#39;m guessing from what we&#39;ve had at the club&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-02/muskrat-other-fish-meat-105757">Wild Game Dinner</a>&nbsp;there will be&nbsp;classic kegs like PBR, Old Style, and Stroh&#39;s. If you can&#39;t make it out to pastoral McHenry County, both&nbsp;Shaw&#39;s Crab House&nbsp;locations in Chicago and Schaumburg have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.shawscrabhouse.com/menus/">Lake Erie smelt</a>&nbsp;the whole month of April, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2012-02-23/where-theres-smoke-theres-fish-96675"><u>Calumet Fisheries</u></a> always has fried &quot;smelts&quot;. Admission to Smelt Fry 2013: $16, $13 for carry out.</p><p><strong>Saturday, April 20</strong></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/old-girl-network-charity-cookbooks-and-empowerment-women-106081"><u>The Old Girl Network: Charity Cookbooks and the Empowerment of Women</u></a> at Kendall College.&nbsp;</em>The Culinary Historians of Chicago celebrates their 20th anniversary with this special lecture by Janice Bluestein Longone, curator of American Culinary History at the University of Michigan. Before mass media, communication, and transit, the first wave of the women&rsquo;s movement was already active via the most ordinary of objects: the lowly cookbook. If you think cookbooks are nothing but recipes, this lecture will prove you wrong.&nbsp;This event will be recorded for WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified"><u><em>Chicago Amplified</em></u></a> &mdash; but you&#39;ll need to attend to taste samples of recipes from American cookbooks. Admission $5, $3 for students, FREE for Culinary Historians of Chicago members and Kendall student and faculty.</p><p><em><a href="http://grazemagazine.org/see-food"><u>SEE FOOD: Graze magazine&#39;s issue three release party</u></a> at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.</em> The food lit mag always throws a good party. You&#39;ll get issue three hot off the presses, plus food courtesy of Burhop&#39;s Seafood, Peerless Bread &amp; Jam, and Très Jolie Pâtisserie &mdash; plus drink kombucha courtesy of Arize. Cash bar with cocktails featuring local Letherbee gin, plus bubbly, beer, and wine.&nbsp;Admission $10.</p><p><strong>Sunday, April 21</strong></p><p><em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/328333360625453/"><u>Ruck4theKids Chef Battle After Party</u></a> at Black Rock Pub &amp; Kitchen. </em>The main event, a benefit chef battle between Ripasso&#39;s Theo Gilbert and Schwa&#39;s Michael Carlson, is sold out, but an after party has just been added. Gilbert says there may be a tasting of the highly anticipated Off Color Brewing Tonnerre Neige, the collaboration beer Three Floyds. Admission $5, suggested donation benefitting <a href="http://chicagowapitirfc.wordpress.com/tag/chicago-youth-rugby/"><u>Youth Rugby in&nbsp;Chicago</u></a>.</p><p><strong>Monday, April 22</strong></p><p><em><a href="http://smoqueapril22.eventbrite.com/#"><u>Illinois BBQ Alliance Dinner</u></a> at Smoque</em>. Rub shoulders and eat and talk BBQ with local pitmasters. Smoque pitmaster Barry Sorkin will serve his signature ribs and brisket plus a special smoked beef tenderloin and smoked pork confit tacos.&nbsp;On the agenda: the state of the alliance and the 2013 Memphis Barbecue Network and Kansas City Barbeque Society competition circuit. The event is BYOB. The IBBQA supports those in need through fun, food, and friendship &mdash; and BBQ. Admission $50.</p><p><strong>Tuesday, April 23</strong></p><p><a href="http://drinkthinkreadings.com/"><u><em>Drink.Think</em></u></a> at Tavernita. Read &quot;drink dot think&quot; is a spoken word event dedicated to celebrating what we drink. Hear writers read from their work about drinks &mdash; over drinks. Speakers include <em>Serious Eats</em>&#39; Roger Kamholz, <em>Time Out Chicago</em>&#39;s Lauren Viera, and North Shore Distillery&#39;s Sonja Kassebaum. Moderated by Kara Newman who&#39;s also speaking about her new book&nbsp;<u><em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0231156707?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=0231156707&amp;tag=lklchu-20">The Secret Financial Life of Food</a></em></u><em>: From Commodities Markets to Supermarkets&nbsp;</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/secret-financial-life-food-event-106474"><u>Monday at Kendall</u></a>. Admission FREE, cash bar.</p><p><strong>Wednesday, April 24</strong></p><p><a href="http://barnandcompany.com/this-week.php"><u><em>Templeton Rye WhiskyFest Dinner</em></u></a> at Barn &amp; Company.&nbsp;<u><a href="http://www.whiskyfestblog.com/whiskyfest-chicago-whiskyweek/">WhiskyWeek kicked off Monday</a>&nbsp;</u>with events across Chicagoland culminating in the sold out WhiskyFest Friday. This dinner features the low and slow stylings of Barn &amp; Company Pitmaster Gary Wiviott serving a Prohibition era whisky paired menu: lamb, beef, and pork belly; soft smoked rack of lamb, gravlax on smoked pig butter toast; smoked pig bone risotto, maple pecan pie with Templeton Rye chocolate chips and chocolate ganache, and more &mdash; and at these Pitmaster Series dinners, I do mean <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-05/make-no-little-plates-98827"><u>much, much more</u></a>. Plus meet Templeton Rye founder and recipe holder Keith Kerkhoff and hear his family stories from Prohibition. Admission $60.</p><p><strong>Thursday, April 25</strong></p><p><em><a href="http://www.diningoutforlife.com/chicago"><u>20th annual Dining Out For Life</u></a> at more than <a href="http://www.diningoutforlife.com/chicago/restaurants"><u>80 restaurants throughout Chicagoland</u></a>.</em> This annual dining event is North America&#39;s largest fundraiser for 60 HIV/AIDS service organizations, including <a href="http://www.edgealliance.org/"><u>Chicago&#39;s EdgeAlliance</u></a>, a non-profit organization which assists its members in developing and operating quality housing and providing life enriching services to vulnerable individuals and families. Admission FREE, food and drink additional.</p><p><em>Follow Louisa Chu <a href="http://twitter.com/louisachu" target="_blank">@louisachu</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-04/whiskyweek-smelt-month-top-list-best-chicago-food-and-drink-events-week Tony Award-winning troupe turns to dinner theater with Rick Bayless http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-20/tony-award-winning-troupe-turns-dinner-theater-rick-bayless-92224 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-20/rickbayless_flickr_Ed Fisher.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://lookingglasstheatre.org/content/">Lookingglass Theatre</a>, winner of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-03/lookingglass-theatre-company-snags-2011-tony-award-85992">2011 Tony Award as Outstanding Regional Theatre</a>, will experiment with a dinner theater policy for a limited run, next March 23-April 22.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-20/rickbayless_flickr_Ed Fisher.jpg" style="margin: 10px; float: left; width: 266px; height: 400px;" title="Rick Bayless tweets in his kitchen (Flickr/Ed Fisher)">It won’t be your suburban grandmother’s dinner theater, however. The chef de cuisine will be superstar TV Mexican cookery guru<strong> </strong>Rick Bayless. Each three-course meal will be prepared in the kitchen of his Frontera Grill before being trucked to Lookingglass to be finished and served to 150 guests nightly.</p><p>But wait, there’s more! Bayless also will co-star in the theater portion of the evening playing—what else?—a love-struck cook in a 1940’s Mexican guest house. Bayless is co-author of the work, too, along with Lookingglass Ensemble member<strong> </strong>Heidi Stillman, who will direct it.</p><p>But that’s not all! There are three wings to flap on this particular Mexican chicken (we dare not call it a <em>pavo</em>, which is Spanish for “a turkey”). The third co-creator is circus artist Tony Hernandez, a Lookingglass associate. That means that various circus acts will be part of the performance, too.</p><p>It’s all summed up in the title of the work: <a href="http://lookingglasstheatre.org/content/box_office/cascabel"><em>Cascabel: Dinner—Daring—Desire</em></a> featuring a sumptuous feast, world-class circus acts and a love story, as the press materials describe the show. The Lookingglass theater in the Water Tower Pumping Station will be turned into the outdoor courtyard of a Mexican hacienda, where guests will be seated at long tables to enjoy the meal and, perhaps, interact just a touch with the performers.</p><p>Bayless explained that cascabel has three meanings. It’s a spicy type of Mexican pepper, also a small silver bell and, finally, the rattle of a rattle snake.</p><p>You probably can guess that this sort of dinner theater doesn’t come cheap. Tickets for hors d’oeuvres, three courses, non-alcoholic beverages and the show are $180-$205. Wine pairings are extra. Lookingglass subscribers have first crack at the tickets from now through Oct. 17. Whatever places at the table are left then will be offered to the general public, but the press announcement warns, “Prices will go up, based on demand.” Preview performances, March 20-24, are a bargain at $130-$155.</p><p>Now, who will Chicago Public Media send to review <em>Cascabel</em>? Food writer <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu">Louisa Chu</a> or the Dueling Critics . . . or both?</p></p> Tue, 20 Sep 2011 16:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-20/tony-award-winning-troupe-turns-dinner-theater-rick-bayless-92224