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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Meat Picks | 9.12.14


Tonight is THE night at Hofbräuhaus Chicago—the kick off to an amazing seven-week long celebration—Oktoberfest. Unlike any of those weekend tent events you may go to, there’s no better way to take in this annual German-pa-loosa than at Hofbräuhaus.

If you haven’t been to Hofbräuhaus yet, you absolutely don’t know what  you’re missing. From the inside view of their shiny micro-pretzelsbrewing vessels to the gigantic pretzels flown in from Germany and their amazing pork shanks and schnitzels, they take European ambience and cuisine to whole new level.

Celebrity keg tappers, food specials, live music (every day of the week), contests porkshankand more will elevate the routinely jovial Hofbräuhaus atmosphere through October 31st. And, of course, there will be “Oktoberfestbier”, a full-bodied lager with a “toffee like sweetness.” Hofbrähaus still uses recipes “handed down by the Duke of Bavaria, over 400 years ago”—you can’t get more authentic than that.

Make reservations online and check out their Sept/Oct newsletter here for more info. #HoftoberfestCHI

Foot Long Reaches New Lengths

100ftBratThe town of Bellville, Illinois plans on celebrating their 200th anniversary with a porkwurst of preposterous proportion. The town will attempt to cook a 200 foot “gluten-free lean pork” bratwurst at their bicentennial celebration on Saturday, September 21st.

In August, an attempt to do a 50 foot brat failed, but the town team of dedicated volunteers successfully cooked a 100 foot ‘wurst earlier this week in preparation for the 200 foot milestone. Read more at

Craft for Conservancy

ChiAleFestA new festival will premiere at Grant Park next weekend. The Chicago Ale Fest, dedicated to the celebration of American craft beer, will run from Friday, September 19th through Saturday the 20th at Grant Park.

More than 200 beers from over 100 breweries will be featured, in addition to live music and food from area restaurants such as, Shaw’s Crab House and Tokio Pub, to name a few. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Grant Park Conservancy.

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

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Meat Picks | 2.21.14

Bearded Chicago

The semi-finalists for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards were announced this week. Whittled down fromjames-beard-award-2011-media-2 over 38,000 national entries, being named as a semi-finalist is indeed a big deal, and Chicago is well represented.

Congratulations to all who made the cut and a special shout out to our Chi-town nominees! Here’s the Windy City recap:

Best New Restaurant: Nico Osteria and Brindille

Outstanding Restaurant: Spiaggia

Outstanding Chef: Carrie Nahabedian, Naha

Outstanding Restaurateur: Donnie Madia, One Off Hospitality Group: Blackbird, Avec, The Publican, The Violet Hour, Nico Osterio and Big Star

Outstanding Service: Topolobampo

Outstanding Wine Program: Sepia

Rising Start Chef of the Year: Jimmy Banos Jr., Purple Pig, Matthew Kirkley, L20 and David Posey, Blackbird

Best Chef – Great Lakes: Dave Beran, Next, Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo, Fat Rice, Curtis Duffy, Grace, Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Phillip Foss, EL Ideas, Ryan McCaskey, Acadia, Iliana Regan, Elizabeth, Jason Vincent, Nightwood, Paul Virant, Vie Restaurant, Erling Wu-Bower, Nico Osteria, Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

Find the complete Best Chef’s list by region at this link; read the full press release here.

GoodFoodFestGood Food Volunteer

The Good Food Festival will mark its 10th anniversary next month on March 13-15. Festival organizers are looking for volunteers NOW. If you’d like to help out and drink in the atmosphere of good food and local inspiration, click on this link for more info.

Last Minute Picks

Tap the Keg with former Blackhawk, Adrian Aucoin, at Hofbrauhaus tonight at 7:30! (Great way to celebrate the Olympic US hockey teams!)

Sample seafood, local produmercatce and Spanish wines in a “Boqueria” atmosphere at Mercat a la Planxa’s newly renovated Barcelona Room this Saturday at 7 pm. ($45 per ticket. RSVP required: 312-765-0524)

Looking to get a little exercise? Walk the Chicago Golf Show at the Stephens Convention Center this weekend in Rosemont (Jeff Sluman & Robbie Gould will be there on Saturday), or the IKC Dog Show at McCormick Place.

Have a great weekend!

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Meat Picks | 9.20.13

Fall Fest Frenzy

Sunday marks Autumn’s “official” return and with it a new crop of seasonal festivals. The local sourced sausage/beer/music Wurst Festival (gotta love that name) ends today in Daley Plaza, and numerous Oktober, Scarecrow, and Fall fests are set to make their debut this weekend and well into next month.

Restaurant celebrations are also in HofbrauFestfull swing, and one of this year’s biggest is at the new Hofbräuhaus Chicago in Rosemont. What better place to get your inner German on? Special menus, music and attractions are planned at Hofbräu now through October 31st. Windy City Live co-host, Ryan Chiaverini is the celebrity keg tapper tonight.

Check the Metromix city and suburban fest schedules for more info.

LyfeKitchen2LYFE gets in the way

If you haven’t heard, there’s a brand new spanking chain on the way to Chicago – LYFE Kitchen.  Love Your Food Everyday was built on the concept, “great food can do amazing things” – specifically: support local farms, promote sustainability, reward environmentally sound businesses and give back to the community.

Lyfe’s eat good / feel good / do good mantra is set to debut in Chicago this November.

Culinary Kids

MasterchefKidsA new cooking competition premieres tonight, Masterchef Junior. Yes, you read that right – a culinary challenge for kids 8-13 who “love to cook”.

Earlier this week, Chef Graham Elliott, told Access Hollywood the kids were so good they were more than capable of giving Masterchef adult competitors a run for their money. Set your recorders to FOX from 7-8 tonight.

We’re Proud as Pig!

Last weekend, Buedel’s own, Chef Russ Kramer and teammates, Mike Tibbs and Joe O’Connor took top honors at the Glen Ellyn Backyard BBQ Competition. Sanctioned as an “official Illinois stateRibs championship competition”, over 60 teams competed at the day long bbq and blues event.

Competing as the Bawlin Hawg BBQ team, Russ, Mike and Joe took 8th place for Best Rib Entry, 4th place for Best Dish with their Smoked Scallop over Bacon, Asparagus Risotto & Porcini Breadcrumb presented on cedar planks, and Grand Champion overall.

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Meat Picks | 1.25.13

Wake Up and Smell the Schnitzel!

TOC recently scribed “Four reasons German food will take off in 2013” citing upgrades and openings of German/Euro inspired restaurants in the city. Grubstreet echoed with Sprechen Sie Trendy [love that title!] noting the last time German was hot was in 1965.

Has it really been that long?

Adding to this micro trend (in a really big way) is Hofbräuhaus Chicago in Rosemont – yes, Rosemont – the “first and only German micro brewery, beer hall, restaurant and beer garden to call Chicago home”, which opened earlier this week.

Modeled after its 400 year old Munich namesake, the 20,000 square foot ‘haus offers seating for 700, (plus another 350 in the outside beer garden), brews its own beer on site, stages live music seven days a week, and has its own gift shop. The menu is also modeled authentic with traditional Bavarian dishes, imported bakery items and sauerkraut flown in from Germany. Executive Chef, Klaus Lotter is at the helm.

Viel Glück, Hofbräuhaus!

Restaurant Week Countdown

Restaurant Week(s) has been running nationwide since the beginning of the year. Chicago’s officially begins a week from today on February 1st and runs through the 10th. San Fran ups our ten day week by seven – their food fest began January 15th and will end on the 31st.

One of the best things people love about Restaurant Week is of course the price fixed menus; one of the worst is figuring out where to go among the over 200 participating restaurants. Here’s our top list of helpful links: Metromix Pix   Chicago Foodies   Chicagoist Staff Picks   Phil Vettel’s Recs  Event Site   Open Table Reservations.  If you’d like a chance to win a foodie gift card, link here: Sweepstakes Entry.


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

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