WBEZ | Chicago Restaurants http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-restaurants Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chef wants diners to remember her cooking, not her blindness http://www.wbez.org/news/chef-wants-diners-remember-her-cooking-not-her-blindness-112757 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/LauraMartinez_LaDiosa_NPR-Cheryl Corley.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>Many chefs dream of opening their own restaurant. But Laura Martinez faced an obstacle that many people thought would make that dream impossible to fulfill: The 31-year-old chef is blind.</p><p>It took two years for Martinez to open&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/ladiosachicago">La Diosa</a>, her tiny restaurant in Chicago, this past January. In addition to her white chef&#39;s jacket, Martinez wears dark sunglasses when she works.</p><p>The soft-spoken chef traces her passion for cooking to a few things. First, there were the knives: &quot;I always loved knives. In fact, when I was a child, they were my favorite toy.&quot;</p><p>Later, in college, she didn&#39;t like the cafeteria food. &quot;I was used to homemade meals from my mother and good food,&quot; she says, &quot;so when I got this weird food, I didn&#39;t want to eat it. And I guess that when I started to focus on flavors and smells.&quot;</p><p>La Diosa&nbsp;means &quot;the goddess&quot; in Spanish. It is a modest space. Pictures and newspaper articles about Chef Martinez line one wall. There are five tables and some stools near a counter at the front window.</p><p>Despite its size, La Diosa is a full-service restaurant that&#39;s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Martinez says her menu is Mexican comfort food with a French touch. In addition to quiches, omelets, quesadillas and empanadas, there&#39;s also her own creation, tartizzas.</p><img alt="Chef Martinez and her husband, Maurilio Ortega, who also works at La Diosa, get ready to serve a tartizza. Martinez calls her creation something between a tart and a pizza, with a light, flaky crust. (NPR/Cheryl Corley)" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/08/24/2089822-corley-chef9_vert-21b5538911dc38bfc074b8b4b3e39777ce9afe2f-s300-c85.jpg" style="float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Chef Martinez and her husband, Maurilio Ortega, who also works at La Diosa, get ready to serve a tartizza. Martinez calls her creation something between a tart and a pizza, with a light, flaky crust. (NPR/Cheryl Corley)" /><p>&quot;I call it tartizza,&quot; she says, &quot;because it&#39;s kind of between a tart and pizza, but the dough is delicate and light, but flaky at the same time.&quot;</p><p>Martinez&#39;s husband, Maurilio Ortega, works in the restaurant as well. They jokingly call him Sous Chef Maury. As Martinez rolls out the dough for the tartizza, he gets the other ingredients ready, including Martinez&#39;s special sauce.</p><p>Martinez lost her eyesight to cancer when she was a baby. In college, she pursued a degree in psychology &mdash; she knew there were blind psychologists. But when she later decided to go to culinary school, she looked for blind chefs, and couldn&#39;t find one.</p><p>&quot;I said, &#39;Oh, my God,&#39; &quot; Martinez recounts, &quot;this is going to be interesting, because I like challenges.&quot; It was, indeed, a challenge. She got help from an attorney to get into culinary school. During an internship, her supervisor was not supportive.</p><div id="res434374320"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>Martinez got a break, though, when the now late&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/11/06/243400611/famed-chicago-chef-charlie-trotter-dies-at-54">Charlie Trotter</a>, one of Chicago&#39;s most acclaimed chefs, watched her work, tasted her food, and offered her a job.</p><p>Martinez worked at Trotter&#39;s restaurant until it closed in 2012. Then, with no prospects in sight, she decided it was time to work toward her dream of opening a restaurant.</p><p>A business adviser, Andrew Fogarty, was flabbergasted at first by the idea of a blind chef, but then he worked with Martinez to develop a business plan.</p><p>&quot;Chef had the name the first day we met,&quot; says Fogarty. &quot;She had the idea for her dream; she had the menu. All she needed to do was execute.&quot;</p><p>Chicago Tribune&nbsp;restaurant critic&nbsp;<a href="http://bio.tribune.com/PhilVettel">Phil Vettel</a>&nbsp;says a restaurant kitchen is a hectic madhouse, even for the sighted.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s kind of incredible,&quot; he says, that Martinez is running La Diosa.</p><p>Vettel says there&#39;s intense competition in Chicago&#39;s restaurant industry but that Martinez&#39;s former association with Trotter is tremendously helpful. &quot;The food community and customers are very aware of names and reputations. It&#39;s an immediate statement of legitimacy,&quot; Vettel says.</p><p>Martinez says she knows that business is a gamble. Even so, she&#39;s already been an inspiration to others.</p><p>Another blind chef who won first place on a television cooking show sent out a message on Twitter telling Martinez so.</p><p>In the restaurant, after using her talking cash register to ring up a customer, Martinez says she has another wish. &quot;Now that I&#39;m known for being the blind chef,&quot; she says, &quot;I want people to look beyond that.&quot; What she really wants people eating in La Diosa to remember, she says, is the food.</p></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/08/24/434088387/chef-wants-diners-to-remember-her-cooking-not-her-blindness?ft=nprml&amp;f=434088387" target="_blank">The Salt</a></em></div></p> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 04:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chef-wants-diners-remember-her-cooking-not-her-blindness-112757 Chicago chefs boast Michelin ratings http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/chicago-chefs-boast-michelin-ratings-103824 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/grahamelliot.jpg" alt="" /><p><script src="http://storify.com/WBEZ/chicago-chefs-boast-michelin-ratings.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ/chicago-chefs-boast-michelin-ratings" target="_blank">View the story "Chicago chefs boast Michelin ratings" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 15:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/chicago-chefs-boast-michelin-ratings-103824 An interview with Hot Doug's Doug Sohn about things other than sausages (and also sausages) http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2012-02-28/interview-hot-dougs-doug-sohn-about-things-other-sausages-and-also-sausag <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-28/hot doug&#039;s_flickr_paul goyette.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Doug Sohn owns the best <a href="http://hotdougs.com/">hot dog place in the world</a>. I don't think there's much dispute about that. He's also one of the best interviewees there is. Back for this third time on <em>The Interview Show</em>, Doug shares what worries him, where he goes when Hot Doug's is closed and his thoughts on politicians visiting his restaurant.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/SwQ1vLWqRUQ" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 28 Feb 2012 14:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2012-02-28/interview-hot-dougs-doug-sohn-about-things-other-sausages-and-also-sausag Why Chicago's West Loop neighborhood is a hot spot for diners http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-06/why-chicagos-west-loop-neighborhood-hot-spot-diners-96134 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2012-February/2012-02-06/marche_west loop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For more than a decade, Chicago's West Loop area, the neighborhood just west of the Kennedy Expressway, has been a destination for cutting edge eateries and chefs trying new concepts.</p><p>In late February, chef Jared Van Camp opens his latest venture Nellcôte. The restaurant was inspired by Villa Nellcôte where the Rolling Stones recorded their album <em>Exile on Main Street</em>. Van Camp told Tony Sarabia about what diners can expect from the new venture.</p><p>Restaurateur Kevin Boehm also joined the conversation to explain what challenges exist in opening new restaurants. Boehm is co-founder of the <a href="http://bokagrp.com/" target="_blank">Boka Restaurant Group</a>, which runs many restaurants in the city, including Girl and the Goat in the West Loop.</p><p>In her work, freelance food writer Carly Fisher follows the trends happening on Chicago's dining scene and she explained why diners-and chefs-keep making their way to the West Loop.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 06 Feb 2012 16:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-06/why-chicagos-west-loop-neighborhood-hot-spot-diners-96134 Chicago restaurants get stars-and snubs-from the Michelin Guide http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-16/chicago-restaurants-get-stars-and-snubs-michelin-guide-94098 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-16/J. Annie Wang.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has got some big culinary chops. The city’s a foodie destination and makes practically every list involving best new chef, restaurant, kitchen wizardry, and other accolades. On Tuesday, some local joints received a coveted star from the <a href="http://www.michelintravel.com/" target="_blank">Michelin Guide</a>. There were some usual suspects on the list and a couple of snubs as well. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu" target="_blank">Louisa Chu </a>blogs about food and more for WBEZ and she joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to talk about the list.</p><p><em>Music Button: Dead Cat Bounce, "Food Blogger", from the album Chance Episodes, (Cuneiform)</em></p></p> Wed, 16 Nov 2011 16:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-16/chicago-restaurants-get-stars-and-snubs-michelin-guide-94098