PAST CHEFS

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We have showcased a wide array of chefs in the Chicagoland area. Each chef has a unique background and impressive experiences that make them some of Chicago's best. 

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OLIVER POILEVEY

Chef Oliver and his family have been in the restaurant business for years as they owned and operated the French bistros La Sardine and its sister restaurant Le Bouchon.

 

His parents owned the restaurants since Oliver was a child, so he grew up surrounded by the restaurant industry. Chef Oliver attended Washburne Culinary Institute and traveled for many years practicing his culinary skills. From a bistro in Paris, to LA, to a cruise line in Hawaii, Chef Oliver eventually found his way back to Chicago to settle down and return to the family business. Upon Chef Oliver’s dad’s passing, he has taken over his legacy in leading the iconic French restaurants. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, La Sardine had to close its doors after 22 incredible years of operation. This was an emotional loss for the family and the loyal customers that loved their family owned bistro. Oliver is an extremely talented chef and has prepared a stellar menu for this week’s daba. 

Chef Oliver's Menu

Demi Baguette

bone marrow butter

 Brussels Sprout Caesar

boursin caesar dressing, brown butter bread crumbs, chives, anchovy

Suckling Pig Cassoulet

brasied gaspor farms Cochon au Lait, duck sausage, white beans

Corn-Goat Milk Panna Cotta

ground cherries, caramel corn

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RANDI HOWRY
KELLY IJICHI

The duo behind Mom’s, a Japanese comfort food concept that brings Katsu Sandos, handmade udon, spam musubi and pastries to the table.
 

The pair who lovingly refer to themselves as Co-Mom’s met six years ago and have been cooking and collaborating with each other ever since. Kelly and Randi wanted to create a business that not only fed and educated people on Yoshoku style Japanese food but one that also pushed to create change within our communities. Mom’s operates out of and works in tandem with Marz Brewing. When they are not scheming up new donut flavors, these two are helping run The Community Kitchen program. A project launched to help curb food insecurities within Chicago’s south side communities.

Mom's Menu

Broccolini Gomae

crisp broccolini and radish with a sweet sesame dressing

 Niku Udon

Udon noodles, smoked beef brisket, marinated scallions, tempura crumbs, poached egg, dashi

Milkbread Pudding

bread pudding with stone fruit, hojicha milk jam, flowers

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SAM RATTANOPAS

Sam is a food enthusiast who turned restauranteur to create NaKorn, an urban Thai restaurant in downtown Evanston. Born in Thailand, and emigrated to the States in 1996, Sam studied marine biology and telecommunication before venturing out into the world of food.

 

On the origins of NaKorn, she says: I always believed that authentic Thai food should not be found only in Thailand but here as well.  An inability to get the Thai food that I grew up eating and loving, anywhere in Chicagoland, had me think 'why don't I serve food that I want to eat and can't find it here?' That is how NaKorn was born.” Growing up learning how to cook from our moms and grandmas, we always use the freshest ingredients and made everything from scratch. NaKorn's concept is creating a blend of bold flavors with old-world recipes in a modern presentation. All of the dishes that we serve at NaKorn are involved – not just the ingredients and taste – but also intricacy, attention to detail, texture, color, aroma and context.

 

Chef Sam's Menu

Crispy Rice Iceberg Wedge

tofu noodles, shallots, ginger, white jelly mushroom, peanuts and chili-lime dressing

Pan Roasted Cauliflower Steak

Northern Thai roasted chili-tomatoes, tofu, Nam Prik

Coconut Panna Cotta

water chestnut tapioca pearls, fresh jackfruit, young coconut and jackfruit consumé

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SOO KYO AHN
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Meet Chef Soo Ahn! Chef Soo believes that food, at its best, is a culinary adventure. He is so good at what he does that he managed to earn the first Michelin star ever awarded to a brewpub. Chef Soo is a firm believer in integrating boundless creativity with polished techniques. He is a master when it comes to reverse-engineering food menus, making his dishes shine and sing while complementing his second love, crafted beers. Chef Soo has introduced a new and impressive way of defying expectations in the kitchen, and his menu emulated that. 

Chef Soo's Menu

Pork Belly Buns

Dr. Pepper braised pork belly bao buns with pickled vegetables, penang BBQ sauce and scallions

Mango Fried Rice

Cucumber Salad

with chili crisp

Matcha Basque Cheesecake

LAWRENCE LETRERO

Meet Chef Lawrence Letrero from Bayan Ko! Lawrence is the chef/owner of Bayan Ko restaurant in the charming Ravenswood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. Bayan Ko is a Filipino Cuban inspired restaurant melting Letrero’s Filipino roots, his partner Raquel’s Cuban roots, and his 12 years of cooking experience in some of the Chicago’s best restaurants and hotels. Bayan Ko opened in 2018 and was named one of Chicago’s Best New Restaurants by Chicago Magazine. Bayan Ko was also nominated for a 2020 Jean Banchet Award.

Chef Lawrence's menu

Cuban Bistec

with sautéed onion & lime

Shrimp Kinilaw (ceviche)

with chili, cucumber, tomato, coconut lemongrass vinaigrette, served with plantain chips

Grilled Asparagus

with almond & summer pepper romesco sauce

Garlic Jasmine Rice

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CORY MORRIS

Cory is a Rockstar on Chicago’s culinary scene! Currently an Executive Chef for Lettuce Entertain You , he’s beaten Bobby Flay, he’s a Chopped champion, and  he was crowned the 2018 Cochon555 Chicago’s Prince of Pork. He’s run some of the city’s most exciting Latin American restaurants, drawing inspiration from his tutelage under Iron Chef Jose Garces, and from his travels to Spain and Argentina, among others.

Chef Cory's Menu

Ropa Vieja Empanada

braised flank steak, salsa verde

 Arroz con Pollo

braised chicken thigh, bomba rice, green olive, peas, heirloom carrot

Dulce de Leche

malbec berry compote, cocoa shortbread

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STEPHEN GILLANDERS

Meet Chef Stephen Gillanders from S.K.Y. in Pilsen! Chef Gillanders has an impressive background and his critically acclaimed restaurant S.K.Y. continues to receive praises locally and beyond, including “Best New Restaurant” by Chicago Magazine. Before settling in Chicago in 2016, Chef Gillanders traveled expansively throughout Asia and Europe to broaden his culinary repertoire. He then came back to the US and settled in New York City where he became the Corporate Executive Chef of the Jean-Georges Management Corporation. Upon moving to Chicago, Chef Gillanders joined Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ INTRO for a 3-month chef-in-residence position which then turned into a permanent role as Chef/Partner. He quickly built a following in Chicago and opened his first solo restaurant, S.K.Y. in fall of 2017. 

Chef Gillanders's Menu

Japanese Caesar Salad

Shiitake dressing, rice crackers, toasted nori & avocado

Grilled NY Strip Steak

green chili chimichurri, roasted broccoli, bagna cauda aioli & chili crumbs

Banana Budino

bourbon caramel, vanilla & cocoa nib granola

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JUSTIN DUMCUM

RPM Italian, RPM Steak and Mon Ami Gabi are just a few of the many restaurants that Chef Justin Dumcum is a part of. Chef Justin is an executive chef with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, located in Chicago. After working as the executive chef in various high-end establishments around the country, Dumcum moved to Chicago in 2009 and became a part of the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises team, taking the executive chef position at French restaurant Mon Ami Gabi. After three years, he was asked to be part of the opening team at RPM Italian. Dumcum was involved in the openings of Paris Club Bistro & Bar, Ramen San, Il Porcellino, RPM Steak, RPM Italian DC, Sushi San, Windy City Smoke Out, and Bub City.

Chef Justin's Menu

Watermelon Salad

with tomato, feta, red fresno, kalamata olive, basil, mint

Mushroom Truffle Ravioli

with mascarpone, rosemary, parmesan cream

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

with dates, pomegranate glaze, dried shallot

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JEFF WILLIAMS

Meet chef Jeff Williams from The Press Room! Chef Jeff Williams has staged and worked in the Michelin starred kitchens of some of the world’s best chefs. Among them: the Willows Inn on Lummi Island with Chef Blaine Wetzel, Luksus in New York City where he studied under chef Daniel Burns; and the renowned Favikan in Sweden under chef Magnus Nilsson. Jeff was the executive sous chef of Sabel Kitchen & Bar (where he became a ServSafe certified manager studying food safety and allergens) before opening The Press Room in Chicago’s West Loop in 2017.

 

 

Chef Jeff's Menu

Roasted Chicken

baby leeks, spring peas, roasted chicken jus

Gemelli Pasta

asparagus, snow peas, green chickpeas, roasted mushrooms, kale pistou, parmesan crumble, parmesan herb sauce

MushRo

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DARNELL REED

Chef Darnell grew up spending a great deal of time with his Great Grandmother, Luella Funches, as well has watching the Cajun Chef Justin Wilson on Channel 11. The combination of watching cooking on TV and eating his great grandmother’s food had him interested in cooking at a young age. He attended Washburne Trade School to study Culinary Arts and began his career with Hilton Hotels upon graduating. After 18 incredible years with Hilton Hotels, he opened Luella’s Southern Kitchen in 2015 — an ode to his great-grandmother, Luella. Luella’s specializes in Southern cuisine and has been named "Best New Southern Restaurant" by the Chicago Tribune and "Best Soul Food Restaurant" by Chicago Reader. Luella’s recently celebrated their 1 year anniversary at the second location Luella’s Gospel Bird in Bucktown which has gotten off to a great start and excellent reviews. Chef Darnell’s goal is to some day leave a legacy of great restaurants all under the Luella’s brand.  

 

Chef Darnell's Menu

Braised Oxtail Mac'n'Cheese

with brown butter bread crumbs

 Blueberry Oatmeal Crumble

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