Category Archives: Recommend Reading

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Celebrated Chefs of Chicago Support Community by Giving Back

Eat out and give back! 

5% to your cause,
everytime you dine out.


Celebrated Chefs is a unique dining program that supports the work of hundreds of non-profit organizations in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington DC.

Enrollment is free and includes the exquisite Celebrated Chefs cookbook featuring a signature recipe from each participating restaurant.

To get started, you can  “enroll”  online, select the cause you wish to support, register any credit card you use when dining on business or pleasure, then dine at a participating restaurant. The result? The restaurant automatically donates 5% of your bill back to your designated cause. 

It is that simple!  How cool is that?

Celebrated Chefs.




BestoftheBestDiningandRestaurantsinChicago

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New Books from Rick Trumonto and Greg Achatz

“I wrote Scars of a Chef as a way to inspire and encourage readers in all walks of life to discover, develop and follow their passions”. says TRU owner and chef Rick Tramonto.

“I think they’ll enjoy getting an inside peek at the culinary world as well.”

Rick Tramonto started as a high school dropout working at Wendy’s; he became one of the hottest celebrity chefs in the world. Yet his rise to culinary success was marked with tragedy, loss, and abandonment.
 
As a teenager, Rick worked to support the family when his father (who had Mob ties) went to prison. As a young adult, he struggled with a learning disability and drug addiction. Yet as a chef, he rose rapidly to culinary stardom, earning rave reviews and eventually opening the famous four-star establishment Tru.

Containing recipes and color photos, Scars of a Chef is the mesmerizing rags-to-riches memoir of one chef’s journey through the highest heights and the lowest lows of the culinary world . . . and his search for something that would finally heal his wounds and sustain him through even the darkest times.



In this curious memoir, chef Achatz and his business partner, Kokonas tell of their Chicago restaurant, Alinea, as well as his cancer diagnosis and recovery. Achatz grew up in Michigan in and around restaurants, the only child of a troubled marriage who spent an otherwise contented adolescence around kitchens.
 
He eventually attended the Culinary Institute of America and studied with Charlie Trotter and Thomas Keller with whom he began developing both his palate and culinary vision. He returned to Chicago, where he met Kokonas, who became his business partner in 2005, when they opened Alinea. As Alinea evolves from drawing board to reality, the narrative alternates between the two men’s voices. They discuss finding the right team of chefs and dealing with Achatz’s diagnosis with stage IV tongue cancer.

This must-read for the culinary crowd is the literary equivalent of caviar and Krug. Foodies will marvel at Achatz’s thought process on his molecular creations, while Kokonas provides a detailed glimpse of the artistic vision and creation of modern fine dining. The book takes readers into the passionate environment of a revolutionary kitchen, and through the eyes of the authors we are introduced to the future of gastronomy.


Scars of a Chef: The Searing Story of a Top Chef Marked Forever by the Grit and Grace of Life in the Kitchen


Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat


BACK IN STOCK!       Alinea !


Best of the Best Restaurants and Dining in Chicago!

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What’s Hot, What’s Next, What’s New? Restaurants and Dining in Chicago

I believe that food, much like movies,
is a very subjective topic!

You like tomato and I like tomahto.
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto……

That’s why here at best of the best dining chicago, we are really NOT  food critics. I am not here to disect a restaurant. But we will on occasion, shine a light of those who please OUR palate. And hopefully, they will please yours.

We like to read Chicago EATER. More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now?

Restaurant obsessives want to know what’s new, what’s hot, which favorite chef just launched a sophomore effort, when Next will open. And while the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering old standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the ‘it’ places of the moment. Thus, they offer the Eater Heat Map, which will change every few months to always highlight where the foodie crowds are flocking to at the moment.

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New Book by Chicago Pastry Chef Sarah Levy

 



To quote the book inside cover
Sarah Levy has been making great-tasting treats her whole life – and since 2005 when she opened her first shop in Chicago, she’s been sharing her love for great baked goodies, candies and other sweets with the world.”

So now Sarah has migrated successfully into the publishing of her first book, “Sweetness – Delicious Baked Treats for Every Occasion.”

 


I like the fact that Sarah is a 28 year old entrepreneur, with locations of Sarah’s Pastries and Candies on Oak Street and inside Macy’s in the loop.  She started in the business at 22, so she already has six years of running a very competitive business under her belt.  Sarah is a graduate of Northwestern and then attended the French Pastry School in Chicago I also like the book.  In general, pastry chef’s tend to intimidate me (right up there with IT people).  As a passionate cook, I know my “zone” so to speak.  The language and rules of pastry are quite different. I don’t feel studied in them.


Along comes Sarah Levy to demystify it all for me.  The first section of the book breaks down things like tools of the trade, methods and techniques.  I respect people who “open their kimono” so to speak about their passion.  There is some degree of wizardry in cooking; I know there is some in creating desserts and candy.


The actual recipes in the book are broken down by categories such as “Social Gatherings, Hostess Gifts and Matters of Love.”  Sarah choose fairly simple recipes and then was kind enough to break them down for the non-chef.  In each recipe she has a section called “Breaking it down which gives the reader some alternative ingredients, or some “hook” from the recipe.  On the left side of each recipe you’ll find “all you need” for prep and execution of the recipe. For example, in order to make Amy’s Awesome Cream Cheese Frosting on page 58, you’ll need a sifter and a stand mixer.  On this side, she will also tell you how many servings the recipe makes and information about storage life.


So, if you’d like this process to be demystified or if you have a passion for serving people delicious sweets made by you, here’s a link to buy the  book on Amazon.
Sweetness: Delicious Baked Treats for Every Occasion



Best of the Best Dining Chicago

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Oprah’s 21 Day Detox and My New Mantra: Little Bites

 
Oprah with Kathy Freston


I happened to watch Oprah the day she announced that she was on board to spend 21 days cleansing her body of sugar, meat, gluten, alcohol, chicken, fish, eggs et al.  She’d adopted Kathy Freston’s program and her book Quantum Wellness Cleanse: The 21-Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Mind, Body and Spirit .  Kathy, by the way, looked radiant on the show. She was really glowing and beautiful. Something here is working.


Have you guys out there in reader-land ever given up one or many of these gifts from God at least once in your life?  I have. Many times.  I have been on almost every type of diet known to man and woman kind.  As part and parcel, I have given up calories, fat, flavor, and all of the indulgences of the taste bud.


First of all, I believe that it is really a good idea (as the time is right) to cleanse our bodies of toxins.  I am also an advocate of eating healthy.  I am also a human being.  That’s the tough part – being a human. We have this food DNA that triggers things. I actually was at Harpo for a meeting a few weeks ago (before Oprah went on the plan). My friend and I were hungry and we went to the baby cafeteria on the first floor there.  The main dish was ravioli. I smelled the ravioli and said to myself “I want some.”  I knew from the smell that I liked ravioli and wanted to proceed right to eating it.



I remember being on “Sugarbusters” one time.  Even though I do not consider myself addicted to sugar – completely eliminating sugar does change your body and your energy overall.  It took about two weeks of withdrawal.  I was tired.


My latest is that I have given up sweet & low or any of those artificial sweeteners. I used to put some every morning in my coffee. So, without the sweetener, I was attempting to drink the coffee and YUCK – it was really awful to me.  So, now I don’t have coffee in the morning. I have also given up buying any type of soda. I don’t have any in the house. Once or twice a month I have soda out. But that’s it. These are things that I believe I could get rid of and not feel any compelling need to go back to.  My point is that most of us are trying to get better with this eating and living and exercising thing at any given point of time.


Back to Oprah. As we know, she has a “ton” of influence.  If she says “go try to be a vegan” – you can bet that many, many will follow and try. If the psychology behind this cleanse is that she is cleaning out her body – I embrace it (funny though – she did not ask my opinion).  If she thinks that the cleanse will end up in a permanent lifestyle change – well, as she and we all know – that is really really difficult.


I am now working on the Giada De Laurentiis school of portion control. (above) She is so fit and thin, and cooks all of this amazing food, unless she has an incredible metabolism, it must be little bites.  I was always worried about the starving people in Africa (and I still am). Being a plate cleaner is hard to reverse if it is really ingrained in your inner psyche. 

Portion control rules.  And exercise. 
And little bites could really be enough. Really.

Best of the Best Dining Chicago

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