WBEZ | Firehouse http://www.wbez.org/tags/firehouse Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Old North Side firehouse up for sale: City wants art or commerce there http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-05/old-north-side-firehouse-sale-city-wants-art-or-commerce-there-106965 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4132356-2_0.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The city this week has begun seeking reuse proposals for a former Chicago firehouse.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Under the city&#39;s request, issued Wednesday, the ornate two-story firehouse, 5720 N. Ridge, could be reused as &quot;a commercial and/or not-for-profit development focusing on arts, recreation or culinary activities that are open to the public.&quot; In other words: A nice place to visit, but you couldn&#39;t want to live there. &quot;Residential uses will not be considered,&quot; a summary of the requests states.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Other forbidden uses include gas stations, payday loan establishments, currency exchanges, liquor stores or pawn shops. The building is also a protected city landmark.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>Built in 1929, the building was the home of Chicago Fire Department Engine Company 59, Truck 47. Firefighters there moved to a new facility at 6030 N Clark St in 2008. The retired firehouse is among a cluster of vacant city-owned properties now up for sale including the 88-year-old former Stock Yards National Bank, 4146 S. Halsted; the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-08-22/bridgeports-shuttered-ramova-theater-holds-hoping-hollywood-ending-90854">tattered Ramova Theater</a> near 35th and Halsted <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/eastwood_fire_house.html">and more.</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The target price for the Ridge firehouse is $360,000, although price is not seen as a minimum bid by the city. An open house for prospective bidders will be held May 21. Responses are due August 1. The city&#39;s RFP can be <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/general/Landmarks/RidgeFireHouse/RidgeFireHouseRFP.pdf">read here</a>. The document includes more photos of the building, zoning maps, historic images of the old firehouse in action and an 1928 architectural rendering.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 03 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-05/old-north-side-firehouse-sale-city-wants-art-or-commerce-there-106965 What is the threshold for a "sustainable, local, seasonal" restaurant? http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/what-threshold-sustainable-local-seasonal-restaurant <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/salmon-chicago-firehouse.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="246" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-31/salmon-chicago-firehouse.jpg" title="Chicago Firehouse grilled salmon" alt="" /></p><p>The terms &quot;sustainable,&quot; &quot;local,&quot; and &quot;seasonal&quot; have become as ubiquitous on local menus as those annoying posters for Tito's Handmade Vodka I see in every bar lately. Do chefs and restaurateurs really think they're fooling us? They must. It's unfortunate too, because all of this name-checking and farmer-worshipping - while noble - really diminishes the hard work of the restaurants that have been sticking to this mantra long before it became fashionable.</p><p>My big question is: at what point can a restaurant claim it has a &quot;sustainable&quot; philosophy? Should all of the seafood be responsibly harvested? If you say you work with local, seasonal produce, does that mean it's o.k. to have tomatoes and asparagus on your winter menu? These are always the kinds of things that stick in my craw. I realize most diners just accept it and say to themselves, &quot;oh that's so nice that we're eating in a restaurant where the chef really cares about our environment and the carbon footprint and all,&quot; but it's also code for &quot;this food costs more because we're taking extra steps to ensure that our suppliers are responsible - and most likely smaller than the large, agri-business farming operations - and we hope you'll agree that this is something that is worth the extra expense.&quot;</p><p>Guys like Bruce Sherman and Paul Kahan and Rick Bayless have been doing this sort of cooking for years. As much as Sherman claims he's a supporter of local produce, you'll see names like Nichols, Klug and Prairie Fruits Farm to back it up. When Bayless has a new ceviche on the menu at Frontera, you know the fish has been vetted, making sure it comes from sustainably-caught fisheries.</p><p>So it was with some disappointment - and a little annoyance - when I got a pitch to do a story on chef Kendal Duque, the recently-appointed Executive Chef at The Chicago Firehouse, a South Loop steakhouse that's always been solid, but certainly not among my top 20 culinary destinations in town.</p><p>I noticed on the <a href="http://www.mainstayhospitality.com/index.php?section=31">chef's bio</a> from the Chicago Firehouse website, that having come from the kitchens of Tru, NoMI and Sepia, he has &quot;a passion for sustainable cooking and efforts to purchase only seasonal, fresh ingredients from local farmers when available.&quot; His cooking style is described as &quot;simple and sophisticated with an emphasis on clean, bright flavors.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Wonderful!&quot; I thought. Finally, a steakhouse that's going to ditch the cliché side dishes of potatoes 12 ways and really add some local nuance to a tired formula. Then I noticed &quot;grilled salmon&quot; in the Surf section of the dinner&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mainstayhospitality.com/index.php?section=12">menu</a>, which was obviously Atlantic and farmed, since their lunch menu lists it as Atlantic. According to the <a href="http://www.sheddaquarium.org/pdf/Shedd_seafood_wallet_card_2009-2010.pdf">Shedd Aquarium's &quot;Right Bite&quot; seafood card</a>, farmed, Atlantic salmon is clearly on the &quot;Avoid&quot; side, as are imported king crab (also on the menu) and Atlantic/Pacific imported cod (menu says &quot;roasted cod,&quot; but in order to be sustainable, it has to be Pacific - Alaska longline - caught, and the menu did not specify this). As for sustainability in the extensive beef/pork program, there were no signs that the pigs were coming from responsibly-farmed operations like <a href="http://www.slagelfamilyfarm.com/">Slagel Farm</a> in Fairbury, IL or <a href="http://www.beckerlaneorganic.com/">Becker Lane Organic</a> Farm in Iowa. By virtue of selling all corn-fed beef (which typically contains antibiotics, as opposed to grass-fed and grass-finished), there was no indication that even this featured protein was being sourced sustainably, rather than from a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (<a href="http://www.epa.gov/region07/water/cafo/">CAFO</a>), which, if you've read <u>Ominvore's Dilemma</u>, know is not a good place.</p><p>Then there's the issue of his efforts to purchase only seasonal, fresh ingredients from local farmers. Not sure where baby spinach (Oysters Rockefeller), tomatoes (iceberg wedge) and sides of asparagus are coming from this time of year, but I'm pretty sure they're not from the Midwest.</p><p>My favorite disconnect, however, is with respect to the claim that the food has an &quot;emphasis on clean, bright flavors.&quot; Really? When did smoked bacon, truffle sauce, truffle potato puree, pork belly and lobster bisque (with puff pastry) become considered &quot;clean&quot; flavors, and how do you spin the fact that in the Turf section alone, there are crusts made from blue cheese and black truffles, as well as bordelaise and béarnaise sauces?</p><p>I know Mr. Duque is talented and he's certainly not alone in Chicago; he's probably hamstrung by a clientele expecting big, bold, beefy flavors. Unfortunately, his menu is my example <em>du jour</em> here. When I asked the publicist about this seemingly obvious disconnect between philosophy and execution, I never got a response. But I would love to know from some experts out there: if you're going to say your kitchen deals in the sustainable, local, seasonal kind of business diners are interested in, what is the threshold? 100%? 50% 10% of your menu?</p></p> Wed, 02 Feb 2011 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/what-threshold-sustainable-local-seasonal-restaurant