Meat Picks | 12.16.14

The Dawn of New Trends

L20 foodIf you haven’t heard about L20’s “reconcept” yet, check out Chicago Eater’s summative. The famed LEYE Michelin-starred seafood restaurant will close at the end of the year for redesign and reopen next February as Intro.

What makes this particular restaurant close so newsworthy is its next-gen objective: rotating chefs. When Intro opens next year, Rich Mellman, the undisputable Godfather of restaurant entrepreneurialism, will have created one of the freshest concepts to hit the Chicago market in recent years.

“Visiting” chefs will work two to three month stints at the new restaurant. The goal is to bring in top talent who operate at the executive chef level, but don’t have ownership. As Mellman described to Crain’s, “We’re going to introduce some of the bright young chefs in the country to Chicago and introduce chefs to a balanced way to think about business.”

Intro will also be the first LEY restaurant to embrace Tock, the cutting edge restaurant ticketing software developed by Restaurateur, Nick Kokonas of Alinea/Next/Aviary fame. LEY plans to “…initially sell pre-paid tickets, like Next and Alinea, costing between $65 and $95 per dinner, excluding taxes, gratuity and beverages.”

Mellman’s concept has all the makings of a home run if all pans out as expected – LEYE partners will have the opportunity to test new concepts and personnel, up and coming chefs will get the educational and exposure opportunity of a lifetime and customers will delight in a consistent flow of new offerings. The Intro stage is set for an ultimate Win-Win-Win.

It’s All Relativehandshake

In a recent Restaurant News post on How To Create Successful Relationships with Your Food Suppliers, buyers sound off on purchasing relationships.

One restaurant operator describes the procurement relationship “like a marriage” where there’s, “love, hate and everything between”. Another says that just shopping prices aren’t the way to succeed, “…building relationships with suppliers is crucial. If they’re not completely on your side, your product is affected.”

If you look up “relativity”, their sentiments make perfect sense: the state of being dependent for existence on or determined in nature, value or quality by relation to something else.

Limiting the number of suppliers you use, maintaining open communication and negotiable product pricing, are some of the top suggestions offered for building profitable, long-term and trustworthy relationships with your suppliers.

Social Outlooks

social graphicIt’s tough to keep up with the pace of digital media; frequency, relevancy and technology can quickly drive any business owner to drink!

True to the pace, social media marketers are consistently challenged by new tech and rapidly changing media platforms. For example, you can (finally) edit captions on Instagram and Twitter now offers the capability of being able to search every public tweet made since the platform’s inception in 2006 –that one, could be scary.

For more updates on these platforms and others (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+), read the Trib’s recent social media outlook post.

P.S. If the thought of dealing with all this “social stuff” stresses you out, check out this Forbes piece on How Successful People Handle Stress – great tips for getting through the holiday season too!

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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SOHO Chicago

bldgChicago has evolved as a restaurant mecca of design, dining and overall guest experience. SOHO HOUSE CHICAGO—which opened last Monday—is all these things.

Soho House Chicago is the fourth location to open in the US, joining New York, Miami and Hollywood. It is part of a unique and stunning group of member based hotel-clubs that aim to “assemble communities of members that have something in common.”

Founded in London in 1995, Soho House was built to accommodate people working in the creative fields—film, fashion, advertising, music, art and media—the goal being to “assemble communities of members that have something in common.” Since then, the brand has grown to 13 locations worldwide.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Nestled neatly near “restaphoto 4urant row” in the Randolph Market District, Soho House Chicago is located across the street from Green City Smoked Meats, on Green Street.

Pictured left: Fresh lunch counter

Soho’s club/hotel accommodations include separate dining, bar and lounge areas, a rooftop pool, 15,000 square foot gym (with a boxing ring), an ultra plush screening room and more. Add to this, three restaurants open to the public located at street level which are dedicated to local sourcing, prime quality and casual cuisine:

photo 5Pizza East Modern wood-fired oven pizzeria: open B/L/D and brunch on the weekends

Chicken Shop Just free range rotisserie chicken (and sides) sold by the whole, half and quarter: open 5-11 M-F and 10-11 on the weekends

The Allis Bar & Lounge serving B/L, Afternoon Tea, cocktails and small plates  Pictured above: Homemade Porchetta

One other standout about Soho is the rich history of their location—and the fact they took the time and care to document it on their website:

Soho House Chicago is located in the Allis Building, a historic five-story industrial warehouse…The building was commissioned in 1907 by Charles Allis, an influential industrialist, art collector and philanthropist from Milwaukee, as the headquarters of the Chicago Belting Company. Close to the city’s Union Stock Yards, which supplied the raw animal hides for its products, the Allis Building is one of the city’s best examples of concrete industrial loft design.

More history here.

RAVE REVIEW

When you work in a business auto-tuned to all things restaurant, hospitality and food service, the next “latest and greatest” is often met with great scrutiny. But that wasn’t the case when James Melnychuk from Buedel took in Soho’s opening this week. Here’s how James describes the experience:

The atmospherePicture1 is that of relaxed sophistication, without the fussiness and pretense often encountered in downtown Chicago. They have activities (seminars and classes) posted daily. It’s not limited to the constraints of an exclusive club—it’s also a meeting place.

The Allis feels like a lounge, where you can have drinks and a selection of great fresh food from the café counter for a relaxing midday or afternoon work break. At Pizza East, the platters of the day’s offerings surround the open kitchen in an absolutely enticingly display.

The atmosphere and deliciousness of the food speak for itself. I’ve been back twice already since the opening for lunch!

We wish Soho House Chicago much success in the Windy City.

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

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Meat Picks | 6.5.14

Food Apps

mobile-appsAccording to Tech Republic, food apps are one of the hottest 2014 tech startup categories. Last week they published a slide article on “apps that are changing the food industry”, citing 15 new releases. Some highlights on the list: Harvest Mark – traces where your food comes from, Wild Edibles – identifies wild plants and flowers you can prepare for consumption and Farmstand – finds local and seasonal foods by mapping farms and farmer’s markets.

Score Card

Game 1 of the NBA finals may start tonight, but the battle between Pilgrim’s Pride v. Tyson Foods over who buys Hillshire Brands is heating up.

If you haven’t kept up with who’s on first, Pilgrim’s Pride is now up, 2 to 1, after raising the ante this week from their offer of 5.6 billion to 6.7 billion countering HillshireBlogPicTyson’s 6.2 offer. What’s most interesting in this war of the food titans is the fact that Hillshire was focused on acquiring other companies. Ironically, it was Hillshire’s most recent acquisition plan, to buy Pinnacle Foods, which turned the tables on them.

How will this affect food fans? In the consumer arena, ticket prices will most likely go up! Read our latest post: What happens to price after the food fight?

BBQ Semi Finals

Buedel Fine MeatsThe competition was intense last weekend in the first of two semi-finals on BBQ Pitmasters. Each team barbecued three different kinds of ribs, beef, baby back and country style, in an episode appropriately named, Ribs, Ribs & More Ribs. The semi-final round further challenged the Pitmasters by requiring three meats to be cooked versus the normal two.

Judged on “taste, tenderness and appearance”, Robby Royal of Rescue Smokers won the round by a margin of 2/10 points. It was poetic justice for Royal who lost by 1/16th of a point last year in the semi-final round.

The remaining three teams compete this Saturday, June 7th at 8pm CST on the Destination America network. Don’t miss it!

Top Meeting Spots

Crain’s just published a best list of private dining rooms in the city. Focusing on the downtown, River North, Gold Coast and Randolph Market neighborhoods, they whittled the list down to a choice 32 covering “traditional and trendy, refined and rustic, blow-out and budget-conscious”. Here’s their top picks:

Crainslist

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

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Enter through the Side Door

By Russ Kramer, Corporate Chef

Have you heard aboSideDoor Literallyut the Side Door yet? It’s an “American gastropub focusing on roasted meats and shareable plates”, as described by Lawry’s Executive Chef, Victor Newgren on a recent WGN Lunchbreak segment.

Why Lawry’s?

Side Door is a concept developed by Lawry’s – a contemporary take on their rich history. It shares the same address with the famous Prime Rib brand at 100 East Ontario, but you (literally) enter through a side entrance on Rush Street.

For those of you who haven’t thought about Lawry’s lately, quite a lot has happened over the years. 2014 marks its 40th year in Chicago, and there are Lawry’s locations in Beverly Hills, Dallas, Vegas, Singapore and Japan. Beverly Hills celebrated its 75th year in business last year, and the Vegas restaurant just won an Open Table Diners’ Choice this year. All is well in Lawryland.

Gastro by Design

Part of the charm of the Gastropub is a casual environment. There are no dress codes or formal dressed waiters – just high end food, stellar drinks and communal conversation. Some Gastropubs have a minimalist contemporary feel to them with lots of bright light and community table seating, where others may have a more rustic feel to them, with wood trimmed walls and rich leatheSideDoor interiorr booths.

The first Side Door opened in 2009 in Corona Del Mar, positioned adjacent to Lawry’s sister restaurant, Five Crowns, fashioned after an authentic English country inn. (Five Crowns’ history dates back to 1936 – it was once the hot spot for movie stars.) The Chicago location has an open “display kitchen” and is more rustic, with an almost speakeasy feel to it. A perfect setting for casual intimate fare and camaraderie.

Gastrogrub

SideDoorbrewGastropubs and Gastrolounges have been around longer than you may think; England is credited with opening the first Gastropub in 1991. (They didn’t hit Chicago until the early 2000’s.) The difference between them is, pubs, focus on beers, and lounges supposedly focus more on cocktails. The Chicago Bar Project further subdivided the category to include “Gastroraunts” – read their post to find out why. Side Door’s focus leans towSideDoorAngusBeefCheeseburgerard “craft beers” and “barrel aged spirits”.

Where the lines of distinction may blur on alcohol, the food is always high end quality at digestible prices. Yesteryear bar menus (i.e. mozzarella sticks, nachos and fried mushrooms) are replaced with today’s gourmet bites and contemporary cuisines.

SidedoorMeatBoardSide Door’s menu is superb. Served on wood cutting boards, their roasted meat boards are filled with beef short rib, lamb top round and prime sirloin. Opposite of charcuterie, which is cold, (they have that too), the meat boards are hot.

Side Door makes their own pastrami from Creekstone Farms premium black Angus beef, offer killer burgers and Lawry’s famous prime rib on sandwiches.They also have take out service and live jazz every Tuesday night.SideDoor logo

The Side Door is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 4:30-11 on Saturdays and Sundays. No reservations required. Look for the “Red Key” on Rush.

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

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For the Love of Grace

If you’ve been to Grace, you absolutely get why they won big at the Jean Banchet awards gala in Chicago. Grace took five of the top awards: Restaurant of the Year, Best Service, Chef of the Year (Curtis Duffy), Best Chef de Cuisine (Nicolas Romero) and Best Sommelier (Valerie Cao) .

Buedel President, David Shannon, and Chef/Account Manager, James Melnychuk, recently had the opportunity to dine with Chef Tai Dang (Embaya) and his wife (Danielle Pizzitillo) at Grace.

GroupPic3This was the first time David and James had actually dined at Grace and their experience was superb. For those of you who have yet to do the same, here is a firsthand look at the type of experience you can expect:

amuseDavid Shannon couldn’t say enough about the ambiance and comfort of their experience, “you feel a warm fondness being there – like a happy childhood memory that comes over you. The cedar smell [from the Amuse] made you feel like you were at an old fashioned inn.”

From the Chef perspective, James was taken back by the “refined brilliance” of the food. He described the freshness, number and combination of ingredients as a, “craftsmanship of the chefs bringing across their talents.”

Menu1

Both menus were enjoyed over a dining experience that lasted four hours. The group enjoyed a total of 10 courses in 20 minute intervals with a variety of beverage pairings throughout. James describes Grace as, “high class cuisine without the lab equipment”, and offers that, “taste is visual, by the nose and by the tongue.”

foodsquareOne might think there would have been ample room for a stumble or two in such a long service cycle, but to Grace’s credit, David and James mutually agreed their experience was nothing short of a perfect performance.

dessertstrip“The service at Grace makes you feel like you’re on Iron Chef,” ascribes James, “…you feel like you’re the President.”

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Meat Picks | 10.10.13

Hall of Fame Days

Did you know that today is Richard Melman Day? The Mayor of Chicago also decreed October 17th as Chef Paul Kahan Day and the 24th, Chef Alain Roby Day, in celebration of the culinary arts.

2013InducteesMelman, founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, will be honored for his Industry achievements, along with Chef of the Year, Chef Paul Kahan and Pastry Chef of the Year, Chef Alain Roby, at the Chicago Culinary Museum & Chefs Hall of Fame awards, on Thursday, October 17th at the Castle Club on Dearborn.

Now in its eighth year, the annual fundraising event has become a calendar staple of the Chicago culinary community. The funds raised each year by silent auction and donations, help support education and industry preservation. Culinary ChicagoCulinaryMuseumLogoartifacts are also being collected for the museum.

Eighteen area restaurants will be on hand to provide the food: Salpicón, Joseph’s Restaurant & Bar, XOCO by Rick Bayless, Saloon Steakhouse, Carmichael’s Chicago Steakhouse, Chicago’s Dog House, Alhambra Palace, A.C.K., (All Chocolate Kitchen), Ristorante Centro, Bittersweet, Bistromic, LAO Eighteen, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, Great Street, Saigon Sisters, Chicago Cut Steakhouse and Hub 51. Buy tickets at brown paper tickets.com.

Buedel Fine Meats is extremely proud to be a financial sponsor of the event.

Would You Buy Expired Food?

The Daily Table is a new grocery concept set to debut in early 2014 which will sell tax-deductible food donations from other grocery stores at drastically reduced rates to income challenged consumers. The store will also offer healthy cooking classes to help educate poorer populations on better health and dietary habits.

UseByThe brainchild of a former Trader Joe’s executive, The Daily Table will in reality be selling expired food at huge discounts – a gallon of milk could actually be as little as a dollar per gallon.

While the concept could be a community and sustainability plus, the prospect of selling expired foods is still unproven. What may complicate matters further is the lack of clarity for what “use by”, “best by”, “sell by”, literally means to consumers. Recent reports provide misinterpretation of labels by consumers has been found to be a “key contributor to 9 out of 10 people throwing away safe and edible food.”

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Meat Picks | 7.26.13

Food Fight!

TomatoBlastThere’s still time to register online (today before noon) for the Tomato Blast at Soldier Field this Saturday – Chicago’s version of the famous La Tomatina festival in Spain.

100,000 pounds of over ripe tomatoes (firm fruit hurts) will be supplied for the fight. The event lineup is as follows: 12-3: Food, Live Music & Beer, 3-4: Tomato Fight, 4-6: Food, Live Music, Beer & Clean Up.

#NoKidHungry

TasteoftheNationClose to 100 of Chicago’s most renowned chefs and mixologists will come together to raise money for the Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign set for Wednesday, August 14th in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier.

On a mission to end child hunger, Share Our Strength also connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. Led by event chair R.J. Melman (LEYE), this will be the third Taste of the Nation Chicago fundraiser held at the Pier, complete with live entertainment and a silent auction.

“The number of children struggling with hunger in America now totals almost 1 in 5, and that number is even higher in our home state of Illinois,” says Melman, “at 1 in 4.”

Taste of the Nation has granted more than $80 million since it began in 1988 to combat hunger – $3 million in Chicago alone. Buy tickets online here.

Just For the Bun of It

FatpourBunWe love to share great ideas when we see them and we just saw a nifty one at lunch last week – branded (literally) sandwich buns at Fatpour Tap Works in Wicker Park. (See more pics on their Facebook page.) What a sharp concept; branding at its best!  

Earlier this year, Fatpour was named “Beer Bar of the Year” at the 2013 Nightclub & Bar Awards. They made a big splash when they first opened with their now famous “50 Beers on Tap” served in 22 oz. frozen mugs. Fatpour is part of the Big Onion Tavern Group

From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook BuedelFanPage

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Meat Picks | 11.15.12

Michelin Mayhem

The prestigious Michelin Guide Chicago Restaurants 2013 came out yesterday. Much ado is being made over changes to the list and the fact that Chicago has less stars now than when the first Chicago guide came out in 2011. (See the Michelin history here.)

We prefer to look at it this way: Chicago is part of the global elite, a recognized Michelin city amidst a massive food-scape of competition. How cool is that?

If you haven’t seen this year’s star wrap up, here it is: 3 Stars – Alinea  2 Stars – Graham Elliot and L2O  1 Star – Acadia, Blackbird, Boka, Everest, Goosefoot, Longman & Eagle, Mexique, Moto, NAHA, Schwa, Sepia, Sixteen, Spiaggia, Takashi, Topolobampo and Tru. Both, L20 and Graham Elliot, moved up from 1 to 2 Star ratings this year.

Major congrats to the recipients; you all rock!

Expand Your Brand

LEYE is already the king of brands when it comes to restaurant multiplicity. Richly based in the notion that the key to success is surrounding yourself with great people, LEYE is testing their latest working partnership with online grocery retailer, Peapod, for home delivery of their brand.

How?

Taking an innovative and high tech approach, the concept is currently being tested at commuter platforms using large billboard menus and QR codes for mobile iPhone, iPad and Android phone orders. Shoppers can virtually scan what they want to buy on the billboards for next day delivery.

Get the Peapod Mobile app free here and test it out for yourself with this first time buyers’ coupon code for $20 off using: LEYEBEST.

Turkey Hits List

Did you know the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 over a three day festival to celebrate the Pilgrims’ harvest and that the main entrée was venison and not turkey? Or, that the holiday wasn’t celebrated again for several hundred years thereafter?

Interestingly enough, Thanksgiving as we know it, did not permanently become an official American holiday until FDR signed it into law in 1941. For more Thanksgiving factoids, check out the reads and videos on History.com.

Last, but not least, the list you’ve all been waiting for: TOC’s 2012 Thanksgiving Guide. Here you’ll find Black Wednesday deals, Dine In and Carry Out Thanksgiving spreads and Black Friday specials.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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From the desk of John Cecala  Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook Buedel Fan Page

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