One on One with Gibsons Top Chef, Randy Waidner

2014 marked the 25th Anniversary of Gibsons first restaurant –Gibsons Steakhouse on Rush. Since then the Gibsons Restaurant Group (GRG) has grown to a family of six, with additional expansion plans in the works.

We sat down with GRG’s Top Chef, Randy Waidner, to talk about meeting the challenges and expectations of running and maintaining a successful restaurant operation today.

gibsons headerYou’ve been an Executive Chef for over 20 years and GRG’s Corporate Chef for the last 8, what do you see as the biggest differences between these positions?

The corporate structure definitely has more to do with admin, managing the exec chefs, labor, cost of goods, menu development, global expansions, etc. Sometimes I miss the cooking every day, but this is an exciting part of the business. It’s very rewarding driving sales, controlling costs and so forth.

What’s your favorite part of your job right now?

Expanding the restaurant and providing opportunities for people. Cooking is my passion, and there’s still so much to it.

What have you found to be your biggest challenges in recent years?

That could be several different things depending on what aspect of the business you’re talking about. But, staffing, finding quality staff that are able to be trained, then cost of product and consistent supply of good product.

It’s tough to find really good quality people. Our business is very demanding, and it takes a special person who can adapt to our environment –it’s not hour by hour, it’s minute by minute here. You also absolutely need to have a culinary background to be in the kitchen.

Have you noticed any shifts in consumer behavior in recent years?

They are more educated and want to know the chefs. They’re into where the product is sourced ‘…is it from a farm?’ Just to say something is “organic” doesn’t mean as much anymore –is it sustainable? Our customers know where we get our produce from, and they like to frequent those places.

How do you get those messages across?

We train our staff to tell them, sometimes we put it in on the menu, but it requires a lot of staff education.

What type of marketing works best for you these days?

Now, social media has helped a lot. I truly believe an educated staff, both front and back, goes a long way – that’s more measurable than any ad anywhere. It’s hard to measure ads. Once customers are in the building, you take care of them – that’s what you do – that’s an immediate measure.

What is the key to a great steak?

It’s sourcing, not just “USDA Prime”. For us, it’s all about the source. We try to source the breed, the farm, the packers, etc. all along the chain. We actually go and see how the animals are being born, treated, fed, harvested… Then when we take delivery, we just add our seasoning salt and extremely hot heat to get a nice char. It takes anywhere from 14 to 20 months and sometimes longer before our cattle are ready –when the farmers say the animals are ready. SteakWhat’s your favorite cut?

W.R.’s Chicago Cut [a 22 oz. bone-in rib eye], but it’s really tough to pick just one.

What first attracted you to culinary?

Apparently, when I was 3, I told my mom and aunt that I wanted to be a chef. I don’t know where that came from, but my first job was as a busboy at a country club. I was mesmerized at the orchestration going on in the kitchen. I’d watch them [the kitchen staff] sautéing, chopping, moving about without looking – they just knew when someone was behind them.

Where did you grow up?

In Northbrook [Illinois]. I took some cooking classes in high school; it was called “Home Economics” then, but I still took them. Then I went to J&W in Rhode Island and spent five years out there.

What advice would you offer to young chefs?

You want to say, ‘Are you crazy!?’, but TV has done an incredible amount for our industry. It’s gone from blue collar to white collar –taken us from the dungeon of the kitchen to the limelight. BUT, there’s only one Bobby Flay, just like there’s only one Tiger Woods.

I think culinary schools should also consider offering equipment care. Everyone looks to the Chef to get these things done. If you’re the Chef, you’re the general, when something goes wrong you need to know how to figure it out.

It’s a lot of hard work, dedication, time… you give up things. I know lots of people who are great chefs, but just don’t know how to make money, you have to have a balance of both.

Gibsons has expanded steadily; what new properties are on the horizon?

We’ve got a project in Manhattan, Orlando, and Philly; we’ll have some more in Chicago too, it’s exciting! Since I’ve been here, we’ve done four, and now we’re adding three more.

Let’s talk a moment about the current properties in the Group. How is the Montgomery Club doing?

We’ve had it about a year; we started with a soft open. We can do 2-300 plated, and we’ve done 1,000 for cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres. We’ve done Charles Tillman’s [Chicago Bear] charity event twice.

What made you open an event only venue?

We did it because there were times when we were limited to parties of 180 at our restaurants, and people started asking us about doing more.

How is Quartino Ristorante doing?

Quartino is doing great. Chef Colletta, the managing partner is wonderful. Everything is from scratch; it’s a fun place to go to and a fun place to eat. It is really casual, but the level of the food is very high. To keep increasing sales over the last 9-10 year time period, is amazing.

Then there’s ChiSox Bar & Grill

ChiSox

We’ve had it four years now; it is right outside of Parking Lot B …and tied to how well the Sox are doing. It’s a great sports bar; there are 75 screens. We have a giant smoker in the back, and everything’s done fresh.

Will you do more sports venues?

I’d like to…

What was it like putting a restaurant inside a casino?

Yes, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House in the Rivers Casino. They wanted a steakhouse, but we made it a chophouse with a blended menu – Gibsons [Rosemont] is so close to it. They sell a lot of fish too. We’ve heard a lot of people go to the casino for Hugo’s food without ever gambling!

The new Florida venue will be more like a Hugo’s; the NY location will be an American high end, and Philly will be a Hugo’s chophouse kind of a thing. HugosHow hard is it to keep the operational side up to speed with the growth?

That goes to the people. We really hold our employees in very high regard, without them we don’t have anything. We are always looking for great people; we are always training.

One thing that sets us apart is we don’t upsell. You don’t have to go through another series of questions before the order is finally taken. Unless you order Bombay, we’ll give you a gin and tonic. We want to make people feel they’re being taken care of versus being sold more.

It’s unusual to have a server talk you out of something too, but we want to make sure to let them know when they’re ordering too much food with portion sizes, etc.

What do you think is the #1 standout about GRG?

Whatever venue we’re talking about, it’s always about the quality of the product, service and the extreme value of what you get. These are the three things that stand out. Nobody beats us on product; nobody beats us on service; nobody beats us on value.

How did you feel about winning Eater Chicago’s Best Steakhouse contest this year?

That’s HUGE because that’s our customers saying so! (Who knows how all those “best steakhouse in the country” ads ever get into the magazines you see on airplanes.) Chicago is a force to be reckoned with! Over the last 24 years, there are always one to two Chicago chefs being recognized by James Beard…

Are you excited about the JB Awards coming to Chicago?

It’s SO huge the awards are coming here next year. It’s not about beating out New York; it’s about having a global view. We are coming together as a culinary nation.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

 

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Meet Chuck, Your New Bestie

What’s one of the best things you can do to handle rising meat prices? Get to know Chuck!

With meat prices at an all time high, chefs and consumers alike are scrambling for ways to buy meat affordably. One of the best things you can do to meet the challenge is to get to know Chuck –intimately.

Chuck 101

ChuckMapThe upper shoulder area of a steer, the forequarter, is commonly known as the “Chuck”, comprised of a network of interconnected muscles that move the animal when it walks.

The amount of Chuck’s connective tissue makes it generally less tender and tougher than middle meats such as rib eye and strip loin. But what makes Chuck so attractive is its inexpensive price and versatility.

Chuck costs 30% – 40% less than other cuts. Worth repeating, Chuck costs 30% – 40% less than other cuts! Add this to the fact that Chuck can be ground, as well as cut into a variety of roasts and steaks, and it’s easy to see why hooking up with Chuck is an economically smart and versatile move.

Chuck Cuts

Below are just some of the varieties of ways Chuck can best serve your menu and budget when cut into roasts or steaks: (Pictures from BeefItsWhatsforDinner.com)

Roasts from the Chuck

Roasts cut from Chuck contain a lot of connective tissue, including collagen, which partially melts during cooking. This makes the meat excellent for stewing, slow cooking, braising, and pot roasting.

Chuck Roast (Pot Roast) Shoulder Pot Roast  Pot Roasts offer robust beef flavor; are lean, moist and tender when braised (pot roasting).
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 182 calories; 6 g fat

7-Bone Chuck Roast  The 7-Bone Chuck Roast includes a cross cut of the shoulder blade. The bone is shaped like a “7”, which gives the cut its name. The 7-Bone roast or “steak” is generally considered a rather tough cut of meat and needs to be slow cooked or braised.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 215 calories; 11 g fat

Petite Tender Roast  The Petite Tender, also known as the Teres Major, is the second most tender muscle in the animal after the Tenderloin. It’s found deep inside the Chuck and is lean, has a great beef flavor, a nice bite texture and is about half the price of Tenderloin. It can be roasted, or cut into 4oz medallions that look just like tenderloin filets which can be skillet cooked or grilled.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 150 calories; 6 g fat

Steaks from the Chuck

The different muscles found in the Chuck can be further cut into steaks. Recommended cooking methods are Marinate, Grill or Broil and Skillet.

Steak StripFlat Iron Steak  Also known as Shoulder Top Blade Steak and Top Blade Steak
The Flat Iron Steak is a trending favorite on many of today’s menus. It is the sixth most popular steak at restaurants in the U.S. now according to recent statistics provided by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 189 calories; 11 g fat

Chuck Eye Steak  Also known as English Steak, London Broil and Shoulder Steak
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 178 calories; 9 g fat

Ranch Steak  Also known as Shoulder Center Steak. Ranch steak is cut from the shoulder roast; it has a beefy flavor but is tough. It is best when braised, or grilled, to no more than medium.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 155 calories; 6 g fat

Short Ribs  Also known as Chuck Short Ribs. Short ribs can be bone-in or boneless, are hearty in flavor and offer a versatile number of menu options –absolutely delicious when slow roasted or braised.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 201 calories; 11 g fat

Wrap Up

ChuckGroundLast, but not least, Chuck also makes a highly flavorful Ground. It is often used for Hamburgers, Meatloaf, Meatballs, and as an ingredient in many ethnic dishes.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 215 calories; 13 g fat

You can’t beat the affordability and versatility of Chuck. Use these cuts with creativity and help manage your food costs, increase your food margins and satiate your appetite.

For more tips and ideas read, Value Steaks from Lesser Known Cuts and Cheat Sheet for Meat. Find recipe ideas at: http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/recipes.aspx.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats   Facebook

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BUEDEL HONORED WITH GOVERNOR’S EXPORT AWARD

CHICAGO Buedel Fine Meats & Provisions was honored last night with the Governor’s Export Award in the category of New Exporter by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Exports are a vital part of Illinois’ fluid economy and continued economic growth in the State. The Governor’s Export Awards are the State’s highest recognition of export achievement honoring Illinois companies that achieve excellence in exporting and to organizations which provide substantial export assistance to Illinois companies.

The State encourages all Illinois companies and organizations that work to promote Illinois products and services abroad to participate in this awards program.

Award Criteria

Illinois businesses are judged on their activities in the following of cateGovAward6.jpg.pnggories: export sales figures, foreign destinations, history of export activities, company size, products/services, business strategies, solutions and innovations.

Each year a DCEO judging panel reviews applications for this prestigious recognition in 6 categories: New Exporter, Agricultural Business Exporter, Service Exporter, Export Awareness & Development, Exporter of the Year and Exporter Continuing Excellence.

Recipients of the New Exporter award must have no more than three years of activity in foreign markets. Buedel Fine Meats began exporting to Asian and Asian Pacific destinations in 2013.

Thrilled & Honored

Buedel’s VP of Sales, John Cecala and General Manager, Tim Vlcek, accepted the New Exporter Award at a reception which took place last night at the Union League Club of Chicago.GovAward1

Pictured L to R: Adam Pollet, Director Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, John Cecala, Buedel VP of Sales and GM, Tim Vlcek, Daniel Geoff, Deputy Director DCEO.

Cecala credits much of their company’s global strategies to the guidance they received from programs offered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture Marketing, (IDAM) and exposure to international buyers afforded at the National Restaurant Show (NRA).

“Combined with our direct marketing efforts,” Cecala says, “Ag Marketing and the NRA show helped our company successfully develop foreign market initiatives for our products. We are absolutely thrilled and honored to receive this award!”

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From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

 

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How Food Margins Get You to the Bank

The majority of chefs and restaurateurs we talk with use food cost percentages as a primary measure of effective purchasing and implied profitability. Monitoring food cost percentages is certainly an important metric; however it is margin dollars that take you to the bank –not food cost percentages.

What if I told you that you could make more money, i.e. real margin dollars, with a higher food cost percentage? Crazy, right? Read on…

Percent V. Margin

The Food Cost Percentage measures the cost of the ingredients as a percentage of the menu selling price of a dish:10.21MarginCalc3

Most would agree this is a good metric that measures the purchasing side of the equation. However, it fails to tell you how much money you made and by itself paints an incomplete picture.

To calculate the food cost percentage for an entire menu in aggregate for a time period, inventories are necessary:

10.21MarginCalc2If you were expecting a theoretical food cost percentage to be 39% and your actual food cost percentage was 45%, that difference is a measure of inefficiency.

The reasons for such discrepancies may be caused by over portioning, theft, poor product rotation, spoilage or excessive waste. Subtract your Actual Food Cost from the Expected Food Cost and multiply that result by sales for the period, to understand how much money was wasted for that time period.

Actual Food Cost Percentages vs. Expected Food Cost Percentages can help you identify problem areas in the kitchen. However, looking at food cost percentages alone fails to tell you how much money you actually made or lost.  It’s margin dollars that pay the bills not food cost percentages.

Margins Bank Bucks

Your Food Margin measures the actual margin dollars a menu item contributed to your bottom line profits. You take margin dollars to the bank, not food cost percentages.

Focusing on a menu item’s contributing margin dollars versus food cost percentage can potentially make you more money despite a higher food cost percentage. Thus, focusing on Food Margins could then be a more impactful method to building a profitable menu.

Calculate the Food Margin of an item by subtracting the Total Item Cost from the Menu Selling Price. This will illustrate the profit made every time you sell this item:

10.21MarginCalc1The following example compares the two methods on a typical menu decision:

10.21MarginChartAt first glance, the steak sandwich cost appears significantly more expensive to produce than the chicken –until you take a look at the cash drawer.

In this example, the gross profit on the steak sandwich is 16% higher than the gross profit on the chicken sandwich, yet has a 12% higher food cost percentage. You will take more actual dollars to the bank with the steak sandwich in this case by focusing on Food Margins instead of Food Cost percentages.

Plus One

Add one more part to the equation – the psychology of your customer.

Consumers prefer to pay a little more when they perceive the item to be of higher value. It’s called the “Price-Quality Effect” as researched in Holden and Nagle’s book, The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing, A Guide to Growing More Profitably.

According to Holden and Nagle, price-quality research provides, “…customers worry less about the price if higher prices denote higher quality. Creating a perception of exclusivity, rareness or quality will persuade the buyer to be okay with spending more. The product itself doesn’t need to be of the highest quality. If the branding denotes a high-quality ethos, customers will spend.”

Bank on it!

The next time you review your end of period financial statements and think, my food cost percentages are too high, the ingredients I’m buying are too expensive, and/or I can’t afford to upgrade my food, figure the bankable math first!

Calculate your food margins and note all higher qualities on your menu. Train your wait staff to properly explain higher quality and leverage the psychology of the price-quality effect.

Bank on Food Margins versus Food Cost %.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Chef Jake Burgess | On Trend at Prime 47

Prime 47 is one of downtown Indy’s top upscale steakhouses. With a second location in Carmel, and a third recently opened in Cincinnati, we spoke with Prime’s Regional Executive Chef, Jake Burgess, about expansion, the state of his industry and trends.

Why Cincy?

The investment group plans to expand the Prime 47 name. It had the same feel and vibe of the [first] restaurant – huge windows… you’re looking outside the whole time.

Pictured Above & Below Right: A long table view from Prime’s mezzanine and  historic preserved windows.

Prime 47 in downtown Indy was originally the Indiana Gas Company, we kept the original floors, ceilings, etc. In Cincy we found the same type of building there, located by the performing arts center.

How many restaurants are you looking to open in the future?

We’ll stay in the Midwest for now for the next 5 years, then, further west/southwest –southwest is where it’s at.

What first attracted you to the culinary field?

I grew up on the east side of Indy in Fortville and started washing dishes at a pizza joint at 15 in 2001. The oven guy called in one night and I got to work the ovens, and that’s when it changed. I majored in Food & Hospitality [at Ball State], but then didn’t think I’d like to take the corporate G.M. route, so I went to work for the best restaurant I could. I did a stint in Georgia, came back, worked for Mo’s, [former Prime owner group] then at Capital Grille, Sensu and on to my dream job with Prime 47.

When did you fall in love with making food?

At 17, when I was managing the pizza place. I came up with some new pizza and styles of pizza. Some of my ideas were put on the menu, and I was really excited about it. But, I started really learning culinary when I went upscale. The best words of advice given to me were, ‘You just have to engulf yourself.’Cooking pic

Pictured Right: Chef Burgess carefully drains bacon grease to reserve for making future stock. Cooking bacon on parchment keeps the bacon in place for easier draining, a kitchen tip he says home cooks can use too.

Industry Views

What do you see as your biggest challenges now?

As most of the restaurants felt with the weather in the Midwest last winter, it was hard to get people out of their houses while prices on protein and fish were going through the roof. We’re heavily convention based downtown; the convention base is down 30% for the year in Indy. Some of the annual conventions have also stopped returning due to cutbacks.

How do you manage prices?

We get steaks in whole and fish in whole and come up with 3 or 4 dishes out of it. We can make fish stock out of bones, etc., for soups and specials. In the past, we wouldn’t have a use for it.

It’s all about “Nose to Tail” now, isn’t it?

Yes. We take stuff that 10-15 years ago was deemed unusable, or nobody wanted.

How easy or hard do you think it’s been for customers to accept that?

Social media is a double-edged sword – but people are now intrigued by it. When people “like” on social media it helps others to want to try new things. You can have some fun with it too.

Are you an advocate of social media?Tuna + Wagyu

I think social is huge – we rely on it a lot – it’s helped a lot of people to change their minds. 15 years ago, there were no phones allowed at work, now we encourage the staff to check in on their accounts and let people know they’re at work. It’s free advertising! It’s changed the way we do business.

Pictured Above & Below Right: Plated Tuna & Wagyu. Prime’s table side fresh meat presentation.

How’s ownership dealing with transparency?meat tray2

They’re getting used to it – you don’t want to be behind or too far ahead. You don’t want to be New York in Indy right now – they say we’re 5 years behind Chicago and 10 from New York – but some things today, wouldn’t have flown then, and can now.

On Trends

What do you see as the next big trend?

Farm to Table –there are a lot of places where that’s all they do …if we can just get corporate into that. There’s a lot of product I’m buying from farmers 15-20 miles away from me now.

What’s the difference between Farm to Table vs. Buying Local?

We intertwine both. We buy the freshest and the best we can buy. So, if my beef prices go up, I have to raise menu price, because I’m not going to sacrifice for grade.

That brings up another good point; how do you feel about the way many restaurants misuse the word, “prime” on their menus?

Prime marketing… Prime Steakhouse has just one prime steak on their menu –a lot of their stuff is choice. Anytime I get a deal; my customers do. I have a great deal on Wagyu right now, better than some of the others, and we pass that on.

Which steaks are really prime? If there are several same steaks on the menu, ask; research before you go in to compare prices.

Logo with quoteWhat are your best selling meats these days?

Our 8 oz. filet is the top seller and Ribeye, which is handcut in-house and a little cheaper, if you’re into marbling. The 14 oz. bone in filet is hot right now too. We also have a 30 oz. Wagyu Tomahawk –it’s known as, “Indy’s most expensive steak”, people split it 30% of the time.

Do you see a difference in the amount of food consumed by customers?

I see carbs going down, lots of steamed vegetables and fresh produce going up… and fish going up. I also had a customer in here recently who ordered the 30 oz. Wagyu, with sides and had dessert too.

Do you think the Steakhouse trend will change?

I hope not. Indy is really booming; there are more coming in. I don’t see any change in the near future, but over time trends happen.

What would you do if steakhouses went out of vogue?

We are a big bourbon steak feel – we’d have to do some quick market research to see where you can take it. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Our steakhouse has the best services in the state; we are very interactive –we like to put on a show. We’re “fine dining”, but we like to say, ‘fun dining.’ The martinis are shaken at the table every time, we have the meat presentation and we wish our customers “happy birthday” with a personalized piano rendition played especially for them.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Meat Picks | 10.10.14

Chef’s Hall of Fame

The next inductions to the Chef’s Hall of Fame will take place at Castle Nightclub on Thursday, October 16th at the annual fund raising benefit for the Chicago Culinary Museum.2014CulinaryHallofFame

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year’s honorees are:

Chef of the Year, Chef Stephanie Izard –Chef/Partner Girl & the Goat, The Goat, James Beard award winner, Top Chef Season 4 winner and cookbook author.

Pastry Chef of the Year, Chef Gale Gand –Former Food Network Sweet Dreams host, cookbook author, James Beard award winner, co-owner of TRU and the newly opened Spritz Burger.

Industry Leader, Phil Stefani –Restaurateur of more than 15 restaurants and private event venues including: Tuscany, Riva, Crystal Gardens, Chango Loco, Navy Pier Beer Garden, Castaways, The Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush, Phil Stefani Signature Events and Tavern on Rush.

Legendary Chef, Chef Michael Kornick –Chef/Partner DMK Restaurants: DMK Burger Bars, Fish Bar, Ada Street, County Barbecue, DMK Burger & Fish and Henry’s Swing Club.

Industry Legend, Larry Levy –Founder of Levy Restaurants, an internationally recognized specialized food service organization with market leading share of high-end sports and entertainment facilities throughout North America and Europe and network of restaurants.

25 local restaurants will be serving at the event, which also includes an open bar, DJ and silent auction. (Buedel Fine Meats is proudly donating a shopping spree to our online store for the auction.) There’s still time to buy tickets here.

Book Virgin

VH ChicagoIt is official, Virgin Hotels Chicago is now taking reservations for 2015. From the iconic messaging, “calling them rooms is like calling the Space Shuttle an airplane” (they call them chambers), to the dedicated Step Outside pages on their website filled with food, attractions and stores to see outside of the hotel, VH Chicago is in full marketing mode.

Located in the heart of the Chicago Loop, the hotel took over the 27 story Dearborn Bank Building on the corner of Wabash & Lake –Virgin also restored and recreated the architectural features of the historic 1928 Art Deco landmark.

VH Chicago2The impending roster of food and spirits is equally inviting: Miss Ricky’s (American diner), Two Zero Three (coffee and wine bar), Common’s Club (a breakfast, lunch and dinner social club where “everyone’s a member”) and The Rooftop Bar.

We wish all the best to Virgin Hotels Chicago and Executive Chef Rick Gresh.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn   @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Meat Picks | 10.3.14

Best ‘Burb Burger

ParadisePupEaterChicago Eater just published a guide to “11 Great Suburban Restaurants”. Running the gamut from pizza to upscale fresh, #4 on the list is Paradise Pup in Des Plaines, which made the list for their highly acclaimed cheddar burgers –Gene & Jude’s in River Grove took top dog honors.

Those in the know have long treasured the tiny fast food stand decades before Guy Fieri brought national attention to them on Diners, Drive-ins, Dives. The Pup’s char-grilled fresh ground with melt in your mouth Merkts Cheddar and grilled onions stake permanent claim in the upper echelon of Chicago’s best burger joints.

Hot dogs, Polish sausage and shakes are also major fan favorites. The 3 Layer Fries are hands down, to die for –sour cream, real bacon bits and Merkts cheddar smothered over a fork worthy pile of French fries.

Open six days a week from 11-5 (only!) you can expect to wait in lines that spill out the door and wrap around the building on any given day, at any time, in most any type of weather –that’s how good their food is!

Oktober Check-in

10665714_613092738809814_1277960021209318271_nFast approaching the midway point of a seven week long Oktoberfest, Executive Chef Klaus Lotter of Hofbräuhaus Chicago (HC) shared some thoughts on food fests and the return of German cuisine.

Since this is our second year running the Oktoberfest, we have a better grasp on what to expect and how to handle it. The main focus is on being prepared. As is the norm in the kitchen, as long as you are prepared and well stocked, you can handle any business that comes your way. Keep organized and work clean!

Raised in Chicago and having worked in Germany, Chef Lotter says it’s a “privilege” to be a part of the HC team and the resurgence of German cuisine.

You know, it’s really an honor for me to give Chicago back an authentic German experience and offer them a cuisine that has lost some popularity over the last two decades when there were more options and locations to go to. Just like some of my chef colleagues at the Brauhaus Chicago, Schnitzel Platz and Edelweiss, we bring to the public a taste of something close to our heart and from our heritage. It all starts with the authenticity and care.Schnitzel

Chef Lotter provides that “the ALWAYS favorite” at HC is Wiener Schnitzel, and their crispy Pork Shank is a local weekend favorite (served Fri-Sun only). Based on last year’s numbers and this year’s projections, he estimates they will go through 20,000 of their famous Giant Pretzels and another 30,000 of the regular sized during Oktoberfest.

Hoftoberfest runs through Friday, October 31st. Make online reservations here.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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