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 | 12.19.13

Breaking (Gift) News

SteakBoxWe are super excited to share this breaking news: Mariano’s will be offering Premium USDA Prime Beef & Seafood gift boxes in their stores beginning today. Now, for the super excited part: Buedel Fine Meats worked with Mariano’s to develop these gift boxes for the holidays!

Cut by Buedel Master Butchers from Midwestern grain fed native cattle, the gift boxed meat is properly aged and hand selected USDA Prime beef. This is the grade of beef that is at the top 2% of all beef on the market.

Packaged under the Roundy’s name (Mariano’s parent company), the gift box selection of steaks include: Prime Tenderloin Filets, Prime Bone-In Frenched Rib Eye Steaks, Prime Boneless New York Strip Steaks and Prime Bone-In Kansas City Strip Steaks. Shoppers can choose from gift boxes with all steaks, steaks and lobster tails, steaks and crab legs, or steak and shrimp.

Preferred Dining

19,000 restaurants and 5 million reviews later, Open Table’s Top 100 Restaurants for 2013 is out. (We can’t imagine what that data sort was like!) Seven Chicago area restaurants made the list: Gaetano’s, Girl & The Goat, Goosefoot, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, L20, Les Nomades and Senza. Congrats to all the winners!

2014What-s-Hot-Top-TenTop Ten Trends

Another big list hitting the news recently was the forecast for the Top Restaurant Trends of 2014. Holding steady in the top slot from last year (music to our ears) is, “locally sourced meats and seafood”. This got us thinking…how much have these trends changed over the last five years?

Here are some of the interesting trails we discovered:

Locally Sourced Meats & Seafoods was also #1 in 2012 & 2011, and #2 in 2010 & 2009. Locally Grown Produce was #1 in 2009 & 2010 and remained in the #2 spot ever since. Sustainability has hovered in the #3-#5 spot for the last five years, taking third most often. Children’s Nutrition has been in the top ten since 2011. (Could not verify 2010.)       Healthful Kids’ Meals is #4 for 2014, falling from the #3 spot it held for the last two years.

Locally sourced meats, seafood and produce have been in the top two trend spots for the last six years running now. The big question is: when do things stop being trends and officially become standards?

BubCityCarol-okeFestive Frivolous Fun

Love this promo: Christmas Carol-Oke.

If you’re looking for a casual place for some festive frivolity and good cheer on Christmas Eve, Bub City fits the bill perfectly. “Ugly Sweaters Encouraged”!

Have a Very Merry Everyone!

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

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.


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.


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

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!


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

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Meat Picks | 11.1.12

What the Falafel?

Time Out Chicago just ran a review on the, “Best Falafel Sandwich in the Loop”. Falafel always gets us thinking…  Fuh-lah-fuhl; fun word to say; fun thing to eat.

For those of you not in the know, Falafel is chick peas and/or fava beans mixed with spices, made into balls and deep fried. (Here’s an Epicurious recipe for it.) It can be served as an appetizer, sandwich, with salads and just about any way you want to have it.

If you’re like most people, the first time you ever heard about fava beans was when actor Anthony Hopkins uttered his spine tingling movie line, I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti, in Silence of the Lambs. (Gives you shivers just thinking about it, doesn’t it?)

Thought to have originated in Egypt, Falafel looks like a fritter, can be served as a meat alternative and is often referred to as, “street food”.

Make that, one (chick pea) Falafel to go, please!

Kustomer Kudos

There’s no guarantee when a restaurant is visited by Check, Please! the review will be  smashing, but that’s exactly how Oakbrook’s Antico Posto played out.

Antico’s ambiance, menu and consistent food quality, are just some of the high points reviewers raved over during last week’s season premiere episode. Congratulations, AP!

New Cookbook

Rick Bayless has a new cookbook out, FRONTERA  Margaritas, Guacamole and Snacks. FRONTERA, seventh in the iconic Chef’s library of Mexican cuisine cookbooks, marks the first time Bayless shares the most requested recipes from his restaurants in these categories.

With a focus on seasonal variations, the cookbook runs the gamut from cold-weather versions of guacamole to, “…even a recipe for how to prepare corn nuts from scratch”.

FRONTERA [excellent holiday and hostess gift] is due to ship in Mid-November for $24.95. Pre-order here.

Sunday in Paris

The Paris Club Chicago has added a second night to this Saturday’s sold out premiere of a new exclusive series of visits by French chefs to Chicago for this Sunday, November 4th.

PCC’s Executive Chef Alex Ageneau, will host a special dinner featuring the cuisine of world-acclaimed Chef Armand Arnal of Michelin-starred, La Chassagnette. Tickets for this Sunday’s event, beginning at 5:30 p.m. are available online now.


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

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Meat Picks | 10.12.12

Going to the Dogs

John Coletta (Quartino), Boris Kirzhner (Saloon Steakhouse), Matthew Mockler (SAX Hotel Chicago) and Randy Zweiban (Province) are just some of the executive chefs who’ll be on hand with “tempting tastings” at the 12th annual Anti-Cruelty Society’s fall fundraiser, It’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

This year’s gala will be held at the Palmer House on Friday, October 26th from 7 to 11 pm. Food, dancing, a complimentary photo-booth, Wine Pull, and a $5,000 cash raffle (only 100 tickets will be sold) set the stage for this worthy event. Last year’s benefit raised over $200,000 to help care for animals.

Event tickets, donations and raffle tickets (winners need not be present) can be purchased online.

Stove Top Tip

Did you ever get one of those emails with simple tips for making the little things in life easier? Anything from how to hang things on your wall without nails to using a fork to dunk Oreos.

We recently received one of those emails that said: if you put a wooden spoon across a pot of boiling water it will prevent the pot from boiling over. Really? Who wouldn’t appreciate a great way to stop stove top spillage? So we researched it, and as shown in this YouTube video, it worked!

LEYE: Always Progressive!

Lettuce Entertain You is throwing a progressive dinner at 3 of their Lincoln Park restaurants on Monday, October 29th from 6 to 8 p.m.

The culinary adventure begins at L2O (that’s L – two – O ) with sparkling wine and a selection of canapés including savory Gougères, Rosemary Croissants and House Smoked Salmon with Crème Fraîche. Then on to Mon Ami Gabi, for Green City Market vegetable crudités with Roquefort Cheese Dip followed by a choice of either Wild Halibut with Polenta, Corn, Bacon and Chive Oil or Prime Steak Classique, Matire D’Hotel Butter, served with frites and your choice of Mon Ami Gabi’s Pinot Noir or Louis Latour Chardonnay. Dessert will be served at R.J. Grunts where guests can choose between a hand-dipped milkshake or R.J.’s famous ‘cookies in a bowl’ dessert with coffee or tea.

The event is priced at $65 per person, plus tax & gratuity. Reservations are recommended by calling Mon Ami Gabi: 773-348-8886.


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








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Meat Picks | 9.27.12

Ambience Award

Mon Ami Gabi, Shaw’s Crab House LEYE restaurants, Macy’s Walnut Room and The Pump Room are just some of the restaurants that made the Chicago Eater list of “Chicago’s Most Iconic Dining Rooms” this week. Shots of all the (gorgeous) dining rooms here.

Pork Report

Early this week the Trib posted an article about a pork and bacon shortage which seems to be happening  in Europe. Fortunately, reports for the U.S. pork market were just the opposite.

Pork production soared in August as more animals were brought to market totaling 2 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.94 million head, up 4 percent from August 2011. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 269 pounds.

There is no doubt however, the impact of our drought will be felt by the commodity pork industry which will face higher costs for feed that will be passed on to the consumer at some point.

Responsible producers like Niman Ranch, who practice sustainable farming, tend to ride their own market albeit at prices typically higher than the commodity pork market.  We may in fact see supply and prices from these types of “boutique” producers remain steady.

New Merlot in Town

A third Chicago area Eddie Merlot’s (the first in Burr Ridge and second in Warrenville) is tentatively set to open next week in Lincolnshire.  For those unfamiliar with this restaurant group, they aim for the “WOW factor” – delivering one-of-a-kind service.

Last July Eddie Merlot’s took a booth at the Taste of Lincolnshire and received close to 1,000 new email subscribers as a result, according to the local press. How many restaurants enjoy that kind of pre-opening interest months in advance?

The Lincolnshire location is set to open at 4 p.m. daily in the lounge; dining room hours begin at 5. Special holiday season lunch hours are currently being planned. For more info, check out Merlot’s blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts.


Both routes (Knife and Fork) of the Wicker Park Bucktown Dinner Crawl are sold out! There is a waiting list you can try your luck with by emailing your name, phone number and route choice to:



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

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