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Showing posts from November, 2014

P.I.G. (Pork Is Good) #5

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Almost exactly five years ago was one of the first times I broke out a camera for a food event. The occasion was the inaugural "P.I.G." (for "Pork Is Good") party put on by Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog. A couple dozen folks showed up at the Harvey W. Seed American Legion Hall, Jeremiah served up some chicharrones, some smoked pork butt bao buns, a whole pig rolled porchetta style and cooked in a caja china out back, and a bevy of beverages, and everyone was greasy and happy.

Jeremiah's done it every year since, and every year it's grown. Last year, P.I.G. #4 was more of a collective effort, with several other local chefs chipping in on this ode to all things porcine. A couple weekends ago, P.I.G. #5 saw many of the same faces and some new ones too: Kyle Foster (formerly the sous chef at the late, lamented Talula), Conor Hanlon and Josh Gripper (The Dutch), James Strine (Café Boulud), Brad Kilgore (soon-to-open Alter, until recently at J&G Grill), Todd Ericks…

Alinea - Chicago

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The idea of dinner as spectacle is hardly a new one. In the Satyricon, Petronius recounts the (fictional) dinner of Trimalchio, featuring such delicacies as pea hen eggs filled with tiny songbirds, a hare with wings affixed to it to look like a pegasus, and a whole wild boar with baskets of dates hanging from its tusks, surrounded by pastry piglets and stuffed with live thrushes – preceded by a presentation of hunting-themed tapestries and a pack of hunting dogs traipsing through the dining room to set the mood.

Fast forward a couple thousand years, and recently Jeremiah Tower – one of the titans of the 1980's dining universe, who is returning to the business on a mission to resuscitate the Tavern on the Green – spoke with Andrew Friedman about the theater of dining at TOTG:
Friedman: When you say outrageous, what do you mean, for people who weren't there back in the day?
Tower: Oh, I mean, my God. Oversized chandeliers and didn't he put live animals at one point for some…

L2O - Chicago

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I was looking forward to writing about my meal at L2O in Chicago last month. I didn't realize it was going to be a eulogy.

L2O first vaulted to prominence in 2008, when the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises group lured chef Laurent Gras from San Francisco to open a high-end, seafood-focused restaurant in Chicago. In 2010, L2O earned three Michelin stars; that same month, Gras left. The next year, Matthew Kirkley took over as chef de cuisine and eventually was elevated to executive chef. Many quietly said that the restaurant under Kirkley was every bit as good – if not better – than under Gras' reign.

Now comes news that the restaurant will be closing at the end of the year. On one hand, it's a big surprise: L2O is one of the city's – and country's – most highly regarded restaurants, even if it doesn't seem to draw the same quantum of attention as the venues of Chicago royalty like Grant Achatz, Rick Bayless, and Paul Kahan. On the other hand, L2O always seemed…