Welcome to part five of a multi-city series exploring American locations emerging as dining destinations. We have profiled a sampling of chefs, their concepts which bring bold or brilliant offering to market plus cover how they are employing social media to showcase themselves. This report was made possible with research conducted on behalf of McCormick For Chefs.
The gateway to the Midwest and one of the most visited destinations in America, Chicago represents the heartland of the USA and deserves its title as a world culinary hot spot. Famous for its homegrown offerings – the deep dish pizza pie and Chicago dog being only the most famous examples, its culinary offerings range from hearty pedestrian fare to the upper reaches of cutting edge gastronomy and everything in between.
Stephanie Izard at The Girl and the Goat Follow @stephandthegoat
Adventurous tastes? Pull up a seat. Duck tongues, lamb tartare and goat carpaccio are all on offer at this daring upscale restaurant. Chef Stephanie Izard has received national attention for her appearance on season 4 of Top Chef. She was also the recipient of a James Beard Award, 2013, best chef, Great Lakes. Chef Izard has expanded to The Little Goat, a midscale diner and Duck Duck Goat, creating what she terms “reasonably authentic Chinese food.”
Chef Izard’s hugely popular Instagram shows a side of her family life as well as showing off her own dishes and spreading the love with her Chicago neighbors.
Beverly Kim at Parachute Follow @chefbeverlykim
Chef Beverly Kim and her husband Johnny Clark (@johnnycooks) are the up and coming Chicago culinary couple to watch. Kim and Clark call their menu Korean American, but acknowledge a global influence which is evident with wildly inventive offerings like raw broccoli with ras al hanout and dates or aged sirloin served with hearts of palm and smoked yogurt. When Korean classics like dumplings (mandu) or rice cakes (ddeokbokki) do appear, expect them remixed with international ingredients like squash, truffles and n’duja.
Chef Kim’s Instagram is a collection of panoramic travel shots, moments from her personal life, and the dishes she creates and takes inspiration from.
Annie Gano at Au Cheval Follow @aucheval
When The Food Network and Bon Appetit are in total agreement that yours is the best burger in America, that’s an honor that’s surely right up there with being awarded a Michelin star. Au Cheval doesn’t mess around – super old school diner fare, burgers and “simple prep of fish fish” round out the half page menu.
With a comfortable, classy leather and wood interior that will make you feel like a 1930’s mob don couched in your hideout, it’s worth the near-certain wait for this one-of-a-kind Chicago experience.
One look at these burgers and it’s plain to see how they merit top honors. A perfect bun to burger ratio, dripping American cheese and perfectly browned eggs or bacon added on. Check out their Instagram for a vicarious hit of burger perfection set in their beautiful, moody dining room.
Erling Wu-Bower at Nico Osteria Follow @nicoosteria
With an acclaimed food writer mother and a cajun chef father, Erling Wu Bower’s culinary passion has clear roots. Still, the accomplishments of the young chef de cuisine must be credited to his own ambition – in short order the protege of Rick Bayless and Paul Kahan took over Nico’s kitchen and plied his craft toward the creation of impeccable seafood and pasta dishes.
Nico Osteria features two concepts in one, with offshoot Salone Nico offering an elevated take on rustic Italian fare in a cocktail lounge atmosphere with a gorgeous vaulted skylight ceiling.
Check out Nico Osteria on Instagram for the essence of Italian cooking – limited ingredients, impeccable quality and elegant but unassuming plating.
Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria Follow @loumalnatis
No roundup of Chicago would be complete without at least a nod to the famous deep dish pizza pie. Chicagoan oldtimers claim the deep dish is a north bank invention while residents of the southbank eat “normal” pizza. The distinction, though, has been lost to history as now, with dozens of locations across Chicago, Lou Malnati’s is on virtually every corner. True to expectations, these are heavy hitting, cheese swamped and luxuriously meaty pies.
Lou Malnati’s Instagram is a gem. Shout outs to the Cubs, nods to Chicago history and “Follower Friday” regrams of their best customer submitted shots make for one fun feed.
Leo Moncel is a food writer, photographer and emerging social media professional. He draws on years of experience as a line cook and a hands-on knowledge of regional cuisines to inform his work. He is one half of the foodie adventure team @appetitetours.