One of the themes of Christopher Borrelli's piece on Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo in yesterday's Tribune is how Fat Rice became a hot restaurant without the hype machine running. Yes and no— it's true they didn't have a traditional PR campaign, but they were doing interesting things in the right places to be noticed for a long time, and to see how that paid off, you only have to note that they turn up in both the Trib and the Reader within about 24 hours this week. Mindy Segal sums up exactly why their story is so appealing:
"They are two of the most genuine people in Chicago food now, because they are taking their own path, and it's coming from within them, their own experiences, not from the influence of other chefs or trends or whatever — how can you not support that? I am so sick of overstyled big-box restaurants with 250 seats, and (Lo and Conlon) serve incredible Macanese food — Macanese! — to a lot fewer with a personal touch. I don't really know them well, but I love them. They're like a ray of light."
Borrelli's piece does a nice job of capturing their personalities— manic and even-keeled respectively— and there are many interesting bits about how they got to where they are, like the New Jersey cooking school Conlon went to which he describes as teaching you "to cook in prisons."
You can also read about and see Conlon at his hyperkinetic creative best (Lo has a cameo at the end) in this week's Reader, when Conlon takes on pig uterus in the Key Ingredient chef challenge. Although that sounds like a nobody-would-eat-that item, in fact it's eaten like many other bits of pork tubing in China, and Conlon does it two ways— according to him the right way (respecting its springy texture), and a wrong way (obliterating its texture with braising and deep-frying). Read it here, watch it (in a video we produced) below: