Posts for May 4, 2012

Our Amazing, Massive, What to Do On Cinco De Derby List

Napoleon III encourages you to drink responsibly.

Honestly, we swear that the phrase "Cinco de Derby" had never existed in human history, but the coincidence of the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo both being on, uh, the cinco of Mayo led to an astonishing number of press releases containing the phrase (we also got one Derby de Mayo). Anyway, the prospect of horseracing and Mexican independence from Napoleon III seems to have led to a powerful thirst, and here are some specials we heard about for this weekend, broken up by rough area of town.

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What to Eat at The Peasantry, Open Now

Alexander Brunacci says, sit by the fire.Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

"I tried to keep it quiet in case anything happened," Alexander Brunacci. "It did— the first night the order system was only sending about half the tickets back to the kitchen." A little word of The Peasantry's opening last week did sneak out, but mostly Brunacci, the owner of Frank N Dawgs, has had the last week and a half to gear up as simply a neighborhood place. "We had about 85 people on Saturday, but I think they were pretty much from the neighborhood." It's easy to see why people walking on his busy stretch of Clark just south of Diversey would be attracted by this cozy spot with a fireplace for the winter, an open front for nice summer evenings, and the owner pouring wine at the bar. Brunacci calls his menu "elevated street food," which means it pretty much starts out according to a plebeian food paradigm— burgers, flatbreads, sausages— but takes a more upscale twist as in the beef and bone marrow burger, the baby octopus gyro, or the triple truffle fries. The Peasantry is open now; the menu is below.

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Slideshow: Kahan, Vetri, Garces Rock Nellcôte For Common Threads

Common Threads teaches low-income to make better nutritional choices. Chefs understandably love that, and even better, they are unstinting in their support for the organization— as last night's rock star chef-studded event at Nellcôte demonstrated. Hosting chef Jared Van Camp welcomed Chicago's Paul Kahan, Philadelphia's Jose Garces and Marc Vetri, New York's Bill Telepan and former Le Bernardin pastry chef Michael Laiskonis into his kitchen to cook for a black tie crowd in his glam-rock-themed Italian food palace, inspired by the villa the Rolling Stones stayed in while recording Exile on Main Street. Our man Huge Galdones was on the scene capturing it all; if you weren't there paying $1,000 a ticket to help low-income families, here's the party you missed.

Angelina Jolie Taps Jamie Oliver to Help Her Put on Some Pre-Wedding Pounds

Poor Angie. She's so svelte! So fragile! So engaged to Brad Pitt! Which means that she needs to flesh up in time for her wedding, lest she flash that waify Oscars leg. Naturally, she did what every bride does when suffering from a troubling attack of thinness: She called Jamie Oliver for recipes.

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Sepia's Andrew Zimmerman On Being a First-Time Beard Nominee (And Kids Today)

Chef Andrew Zimmerman, nominated for Best Chef: Great Lakes at the James Beard awards Monday.Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

In a city of extravagantly-bearded, rock and roll-living chefs, Andrew Zimmerman looks like the rare grownup, cleancut, levelheaded and (so far as we have ever observed) tattoo-free. Ironically, he actually was an aspiring rock musician who goofed around in kitchens for a long time without getting serious, but his career from some point in his 20s has been the classic one of hard work, seizing opportunities when they presented themselves and steadily rising to better and better positions. He took over Sepia in 2009 and guided it through the period after its opening hype when many restaurants falter, winning a Michelin star the first year they were awarded in Chicago (which he has retained since). And now he's nominated for the first time for a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes, alongside some heady Chicago competition— Michael Carlson, Stephanie Izard and Bruce Sherman. In advance of Monday's award ceremony, we spoke with Zimmerman about his long and somewhat meandering path to his present success and acclaim, which turned into a conversation about young chefs, culinary school and how he mentors the next generation of chefs as well. The first part of our conversation is below; it will continue Monday.

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Green City Market Opens Outdoors Tomorrow, With Sarah Grueneberg

It's opening day! No, not some sports team— for the Green City Market, as it moves back outside for the first time this year. There'll be lots of produce, the beginning of summer fruit (well, rhubarb anyway), and Almost-Top Chef Sarah Grueneberg of Spiaggia doing a chef demonstration at 10:30 am. It's a great start to the high season for locally grown veggies and fruit and who knows what, and they're so confident that the sun will continue to shine on occasion that tickets for arguably the best cheffy-chef event of the year, the Green City Market BBQ, will go on sale tomorrow as well. The event is July 12, the list of chefs will be practically everybody you've heard of, and if you need any more convincing, check out our slideshow from last year's event.

The Fifteen Most Gloriously Dramatic Fights Between Restaurant Owners and Food Critics

This week, John Mariani and Joe Bastianich set off the sort of war of words that makes covering the food world's every breath ultimately worthwhile: Bastianich called the critic a "condescending prick" in his new book, Restaurant Man, and Mariani hit back in the New York Post by calling Joe "vile," insisting he lacks "balls," which Joe claims Mariani once "cut off" (at least they agree on one thing). But this dance is nothing novel, as chefs and critics have rubbed each other the wrong way plenty of times in the past in a flurry of public threats, full-page ads, identity exposures, and ousters that are almost as ugly as the chef-on-critic violence in the film Bitter Feast. Here we have a look back on fifteen of the most notable, drama-filled squabbles that have gone down between chefs and their critics in years past. Enjoy.

Courtney Love Is Hooked on Chicken Potpie and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

"Fuck chocolate. Kurt hated chocolate, too — that was one of the things we had in common."Photo: Melissa Hom

"I'm not a foodie," Courtney Love tells Grub Street, "but I am a foodie." And so begins the amazing and exasperating New York Diet tell-all, as Love weaves in and out of the Fred Torres Gallery (where her racy-femme show, "And She's Not Even Pretty," is getting rave reviews), subsisting on Dean & Deluca takeout, daily cake deliveries, gallons of lemon water, and anything by Mario Batali, whom Love calls "the only friend you really need." Read on as Love takes less of a what-I-ate-this-week approach to her New York Diet and instead freely reflects on her body, refrigerator, testosterone levels, and "fuckin' Portandia-like" mixology skills.

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