A few weeks ago when Tony Priolo, Giuseppe Tentori and Paul Kahan turned up on Instagram in Poland cooking for Ukrainian refugees via Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen, I thought someone should do an article about that. Well, here it is at Plate: Liz Grossman interviews Priolo about their experience:

What was a typical day like?

Every morning we’d wake up, shower, and head to the kitchen and work about 12- to 14-hour days. We cooked around 15,000 meals a day, making things like borscht, stews, cabbage salads, hot soups. We were cooking in these massive paella pans, the biggest I had ever seen. Each one fed maybe 5,000 to 8,000 people. We would prep as much food as we could get into them. You might spend two hours prepping one dish and an hour mixing and tasting it. Then you’d start again with another dish. I tracked my steps on my watch and walked about 11.5 miles on an average day.


Restaurant Michael in Winnetka was the same for a lot of years, and now Michael Lachowicz’s restaurant complex is on its third evolution in recent years. First it morphed into three separate restaurants, tasting menu Georges Trois, more casual and lively Aboyer, and hushed Silencieux; then the pandemic came and it was pretty much all Aboyer for takeout; when that wound down Georges Trois and Aboyer returned, but now they’re getting reconceived again, says Nick Kindelsperger:

For Aboyer, this means the modern, streamlined feel of the room is gone. With new menu items such as escargot Bourguignon en croute — snails wrapped in puff pastry bathing in a parsley-butter sauce — and a house-smoked salmon board with chive omelet, the room looks much closer to a classic French brasserie….

For George Trois, the cozy 16-seat space features new lighting, a redesigned fireplace, oak Versailles panel flooring and plusher decorations, including velvet chairs, satin-band napkins and lots of white linen.

But what’s behind all of them is what Lachowicz calls “something more genuine and authentic and fearless. More Michael Lachowicz,” reflecting his background coming up in the kitchen of Jean Banchet.


I have to admit that I don’t get the outsized love for the fairly plain chicken and rice dish Hainanese Chicken; I even made a point of getting it in Bangkok once, to see what I was missing. (It’s not so much a Chinese dish as a Singaporese one, so eating it in a mall food court in Bangkok made sense.) But hope springs eternal and so I’m excited to hear that there’s a new Hainanese Chicken place in the Richland food court in Chinatown, 3 Sauces Hainam Chicken Rice:

At 3 Sauces, the meat is simmered so carefully, the texture of each slice of chicken takes on the springy and toothsome texture of juicy pork. It’s an astonishing transformation. Though you’ll spot the aroma of ginger hanging out in the background of the meat, you’ll mostly marvel at how it tastes more like chicken than you thought chicken could taste. While most versions use bone-in chicken, [owner Chen] Yu favors boneless pieces, so you won’t need to worry about crunching down on any hard bits.


It may seem hard to get excited about a veggie burger, but the elaborately crafted one at Superkhana International is complex enough to warrant enthusiasm, says Amy Kavanaugh:

[Chef-owners Zeeshan] Shah and [Yoshi] Yamada load on a slice of American cheese, onions caramelized in rice wine vinegar, and super-thin pickles brined with coriander seed, shallot, garlic, and black pepper. The secret ingredient is their special sauce, made by folding tangy Indian tomato achaar into housemade aïoli. “We have to restrain ourselves from putting it on everything,” Yamada says.


Anthony Todd has a rundown of foodie things you’ll want to do this summer, so check it out and mark your calendar accordingly.

I’ll add one: the Tree-Ripe peach trucks will return this summer. If you’ve never done this, here’s the drill: the truck pulls up to a lot somewhere and you get in line and buy a 25-lb box of George freestone peaches (along with Michigan blueberries and Georgia pecans). Set the peaches out for a few days—don’t refrigerate—and in about 2-3 days they’ll be perfect. Too many peaches? Go in with a friend. Give them to neighbors. There is NO SUCH THING as too many peaches! Here’s the list of locations and dates; there are no city locations but several in relatively near suburbs like Morton Grove.


Shortly before lockdown Steve Dolinsky and I wandered the southwestern suburbs—Bridgeview, Worth, Chicago Ridge—where much of the area’s best middle eastern food is. And learned about several things that were supposed to be on their way—but lockdown stalled many of them. Now he goes to see what’s happening there post-lockdown, including middle eastern sweets from a 120-year-old Jordanian brand.


Much-hyped Sugar Moon Bakery in Logan Square is only open two days a week—except this week, when it was closed anyway on Friday. Meaning the closest I’ve gotten to it so far is Titus Ruscitti’s writeup:

Take for example her savory croissant which acts as a boat for garlicky mushrooms, ramp pesto ricotta, caramelized onion, sesame seeds, and parsley. It’s one of the best things I’ve ate this year and even still I have trouble deciding between it and other options like a handpie made with curried potato and beluga lentils.

Sounds good, I’ll have to (grrr) try it sometime… Titus also hits a place called Boon Cafe in Norridge, the name sounds Korean but no, it’s other things, lots of them:

It’s the type of spot that boasts a menu that’s all over the place with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean making appearances here and there. They call themselves a fusion restaurant and one of their most popular menu items is a falafel po boy.

He also tries a poké place, Mammoth Poké, while wondering if the trend has run its course. (Hey, we got one in Roscoe Village a while back, if that isn’t a sign that it’s over…)


Not many places that will ever reopen are still awaiting reopening. but one will on Tuesday: NoMI, in the Park Hyatt.

And here’s what will likely be one of the openings of the year: Publican Quality Bread, which has not been open to the public before (you had to go to Publican Quality Meats for that), opens Monday morning at 1759 W. Grand selling bread, pastries and sandwiches.


After watching the HBO series about Julia Child, and simultaneously working on the parts of my upcoming book about Chicago chefs in the 70s and 80s, I’ve gotten more curious about how chefs of the era I’m writing about were featured on TV. In fact, there’s an entire series about them from the 1980s, before anybody named Trotter or Bayless came along—a Chicago edition of a long-running PBS series called Great Chefs, which was produced here in 1985, featuring a number of the top French chefs of the era (Jean Banchet, Fernard Gutierrez of the Ritz-Carlton, Pierre Pollin of Le Titi de Paris, Bernard Cretier of Le Vichyssois), plus some of the rising stars who were making contemporary American food (Michael Foley) and Asian fusion food (Roland Liccioni, Yoshi Katsumura) happen. And the good news is, the episodes are quite easy to see—on Amazon, $9,99 for the full series, or sometimes sliced into segments on individual dishes on YouTube and Vimeo. (You can even buy a complete set on DVD, as old-fashioned as that may seem.)

Speaking of old-fashioned, the show will seem positively prehistoric compared to modern food TV—simple video graphics that look like they were done on a Commodore 64, and narration by a woman with the placid tones of a voicemail system (“For beurre blanc, press 1”). The good news is, it’s positively prehistoric compared to modern food TV—no ginned-up competition, no reality show intrigue, no one screaming (even if there are definitely some known kitchen tyrants among the chefs—Ean-Jay Anchet-Bay). It’s all about straightforward presentation of technique for fancy dishes, along with giving you a look inside many of the city’s top restaurants back in the day. (In a word—overdecorated, in that Mario Buatti-Nancy Reagan way of the 1980s.)

For me, I was excited in particular to see two chefs who’ve passed, and whose restaurants I only know from my research, alive and working—Carolyn Buster of the improbable French country inn in the steel mills and vice district parts of southern Chicago, The Cottage in Calumet City, and Lucien Verge of L’Escargot, who died (youngish; 52) before his segment ever aired. It’s an interesting slice of a moment in our culinary history, before the big bang that gave us Charlie and Rick and Tony at Spiaggia, the three-decade club of the 80s (which means it’s time to point out that while some of the chefs who were featured in 1985 are still around, only one of the restaurants still exists—the relatively little-known Froggy’s in Highwood).


I felt like I had been, post-COVID, mostly to hot restaurants, and so decided to try to check out neighborhood joints this week. It was good to do even if my success rate was only so high:

I hadn’t had South American food in a while. I was out west on Fullerton and I realized a Venezuelan place that Titus had written about, Sabe a Zulia, was close by (I knew exactly where it was because it took over this location). Anyway, I got an arepa, or some arepa-like object, made with flavorful hunks of steak which were quite tasty, piled on a masa disc that was tough and chewy, with sliced lettuce or cabbage and ketchup and mayo (which gave it a distinctly Whopper-like flavor,) and a little fried trapezoid of halloumi-like cheese that made it looked like it was topped with foie. How did I like it? Well, I liked the steak, not so much how it was served up. Still pick Rica Arepa as my top Venezuelan.

I’ve just been fair on the new Italian places in town, but I had high hopes for Peanut Park Trattoria on Taylor Street, both because of the people behind it (Tony Fiasche of Tempesta and Dave Bonomi of Coalfire Pizza, plus Ray Stanis of Nellcote) and because of Louisa Chu’s rave in the Tribune. Alas, I didn’t find it nearly as accomplished as she did, but part of that was an atmospheric mistake that I hope can be fixed—we were seated right under an air conditioning vent, which blew with enough force that our pastas were chilled to congealing within seconds (I do not exaggerate for effect; they really were cold by the time the second person started dishing their share up). So neither of the two we tried seemed to live up to the claims that rapturously greeted the reputedly housemade pastas in Chu’s review—my dining companion had darkly conspiratorial Sicilian doubts about the homemadeness of the shell pasta in the orecchiete, and the linguine carbonara seemed to be thickly lubricious with cold fat. A chicory salad fared better (how cold could it get?) though was a bit bitter (still, far closer to good than Elina’s horseradish-strong Caesar), and a bowl of manila clams in a garlicky broth was just fine (maybe the clam shells retained heat). Anyway, I wanted to discover this was the small charmer of the new crop of Italian places, and I can forgive the AC problem since this was probably only the second or third time they’ve run the system, but I hope they start refining this place, solving the refrigeration problem and working on the pasta to bring forth what’s good about freshly made pasta.

El Xangarrito is a square plate Mexican spot (what does that mean? For some reason, if a newish Mexican restaurant aims to do things on a classier-seeming level, they always seem to wind up serving on square china) on a side street just north of Lawrence in Lincoln Square. Anyway, the night was very pleasant and so we nabbed an outside table—my first outdoor dining (besides my own back porch) of the season. So it was several points ahead from the start, and a few more thanks to the genuinely warm and friendly servers. So I am not going to nitpick the food, which was entirely decent if not revelatory, because I was happy to be out, and not at home eating something I made myself.

And the same sense of indulgent good cheer applies to another Lincoln Square Mexican spot, this one the center of a little Breakfast Row on Lincoln, just north of Baker Miller and south of Oromo Cafe. It’s called Pastores + Brunch, and on Saturday when I went most people were sitting outside, but I preferred the small, cozy dining room, which has about twice as much decoration as it needs, as well as a fishing show on the TV and a lot of (family) staff members who checked on us almost constantly to make sure we were happy, with genuine warmth—I was charmed almost instantly, even before I saw the mural outside the men’s room, which depicts, for some reason, the main characters from The Wizard of Oz along with Mexican heroes like Cantinflas and Vicente Fernandez. As for the food, the menu makes it clear that they’re offering both their own ideas of Mexican breakfast along with American dishes they’ve made at past jobs, so I had a burrito full of scrambled egg and topped with ancho sauce, while my wife had eggs benedict, and we were both very happy to have made the acquaintance of this place.