Stephanie Izard Takes on the Year of the Goat with the Announcement of Her Third Restaurant


Duck Duck Goat will be the Top Chef alum’s take on Chinese cuisine

Stephanie Izard will open her third restaurant in Chicago this summer.

The Lunar New Year has changed over to the Year of the Goat, and one Chicago chef is ready to make it count.

Stephanie Izard, a Top Chef alum and one of the Windy City’s best known chefs, has won the hearts of Chicago’s food-lovers with her two restaurants, The Girl & the Goat and Little Goat. This new concept will focus on Chinese cuisine, served Izard’s way.

Chef Izard has been making Chinese food with her family for years, and a trip to China with her husband and colleagues offered a firsthand experience with the dishes she wants to deliver. “While there, we visited Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hangzhou and were able to experience first-hand the local flavors“ said Stephanie Izard.

Look forward to hand-pulled noodles, dumplings, and more when Duck Duck Goat opens this summer in the West Loop.


This Chicago Chef Has an Appetite for Success

With the imminent launch of her prepared foods and condiment line, plans to start on her third cookbook, and a new restaurant announcement coming soon, Stephanie Izard is not about to take a summer break. But along with the rest of us, she’s soaking up these fleeting mild days. “[My husband] Gary and I have people over for grill-outs all the time,” says Izard, the toque behind Chicago eateries Girl & the Goat, Little Goat and Duck Duck Goat.

A James Beard Award winner and the first female Iron Chef, Izard’s recently released cookbook, Gather & Graze, has an entire chapter devoted to cooking over live flame and includes fan favorites such as banh mi burgers and Kalbi beef ribs. “It is really my favorite part of the book,” admits the chef, who is partial to late-season sweet corn on the cob.

In addition to her three restaurants, Izard is also training for a sprint triathlon and has a two-year-old son to chase after, but Chicago’s most industrious chef is relishing the city’s summer vibes. “The restaurants are so much more lively with the patios open and all the folks out enjoying the West Loop,” she says. “Chicago really comes to life in the summer.”


Ilan Hall (Season 2: Los Angeles)

In a season that had some controversy, with a hazing incident of one of the contestants and Bravo not actually producing a reunion show because viewers didn’t like the chefs, Hall prevailed. After winning, Hall opened the Gorbals in LA, where he mashed up his Scottish and Jewish heritage with dishes like bacon-wrapped matzo balls. He expanded the concept to hipster enclave Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but he has since closed both locations. In 2015 Hall opened the vegan Ramen Hood in LA’s Grand Central Market. He also hosted a cooking competition show of his own, the testosterone-filled Knife Fight on the now-defunct Esquire Network.


Girl and her grill: Stephanie Izard at home in her outdoor kitchen

Ever since her win on Bravo's "Top Chef," Stephanie Izard has been riding a wave of accolades for her culinary skills. On top of the huge success of Girl and the Goat and Little Goat, the James Beard Foundation award-winning restaurateur soon will open a third restaurant — with a Sichuan tilt. Duck Duck Goat is on target for a November launch at 857 W. Fulton Market.

But I had heard about another Izard venue — the outdoor kitchen in her own West Loop backyard — and wondered how a star chef (and her craft beer consultant husband, Gary Valentine) host that all-time classic American party, the backyard barbecue. Lucky for us, Izard was willing to share her barbecue secrets, from style notes to recipes.

Izard's city backyard isn't huge, but it delivers on both grilling prowess (a custom built-in kitchen from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet includes grill, refrigerator drawers and a cooktop) and entertaining space (a picnic table and benches custom-made by pal Brandon Hards, supplemented with simple metal stools the couple found at Home Depot.)

When they bought the house, says Izard, it had "sort of an empty patio. There wasn't a grill, just a little table. But I loved the ivy. I liked the idea of a hybrid grill (gas, wood and charcoal). It's easy to use. You can literally walk past it, turn it on, slide the wood in and it lights itself. If you want to grill something quickly, you can just use the gas."

The couple have experimented with specialty woods: "Gary has a love for peach wood! We just try to avoid more intense flavored wood chips like hickory. They can overpower the flavor of what was grilled, and all you can taste is the wood chip."

Surprise favorite grill tool: "The Great Scrape! Instead of a brush, we use this long wooden board to clean our grill.

"Living in Chicago, it's really nice to be outside when you can. Also, an outdoor kitchen can be easily cleaned! After being in the restaurant all the time, I'm always envious of people on our patios. It's nice to go home and enjoy our own outdoor space. Plus our dog, Burt, loves it."

During the week, Izard passes the grill tongs to Valentine, she says: "Actually my husband does more cooking. But when I do, I just grab whatever is around. It's fun, grilling together. Gary's favorite is skirt steak. Grilled vegetables — especially broccoli — are my favorite because the grill adds so much extra flavor. And he loves the rotisserie. (I like it because) there's not the same stress. I like friends to come over. They seem happy eating, hanging out."

"(In the fall,) apples and other orchard fruits come into play. Also, squash and mushrooms, all of which are delicious on the grill. You can grill any kind of mushroom, but I really like hen of the woods. They are so hearty — it tastes like you are eating a steak. Root vegetables. Fingerling potatoes. Sliced sweet potatoes. Butternut squash. (For meat,) we go a little heavier. I love pre-glazing, like goat neck or pork shanks and finishing on the grill it gets so crusty outside."

A little chef wisdom: "I like to use (meats that) normally would be braised, like kalbi ribs (Korean barbecue short ribs) or thicker cuts of meat. Shrimp is great for grilling. I also like putting lobster or crabs on the grill."

"Season as you go. With steak, I always put a little salt (kosher has the perfect coarseness) on before. And after. Salt brings out the flavor. Just a button mushroom with a little butter and salt — it's the best mushroom ever."

"On the grill, I like to use intense marinades that bring a lot of flavor in a few minutes and then caramelize the food. Honestly, I use my product line (www.theflavorbystephanieizard.com) — actually the sauces I use at my restaurant. It's just easy to marinade meat by opening a bottle and pouring."

What's in those outdoor refrigerator drawers? Beer! Izard and Valentine shift to stouts or darker beers "to celebrate the season" once fall arrives. For cocktails, "A simple hot toddy or hot cider spiked with bourbon," says Izard. "I like making batch cocktails — typically one gin option and one bourbon option. I also really like our Thai One On cocktail on the menu right now at Girl & the Goat. It's made with extra-dry rum, brandy, passion fruit-Thai chili syrup and angostura bitters. For snacks, I typically put out marinated olives or a warm nut mix."

On a perfect night in the Izard outdoor kitchen, things are casual — the chef is likely to be found in a classic hoodie and flip-flops ("Even as it gets chillier in the fall, I still wear my flip-flops because it makes me happy and reminds me of summer.")

Flowers tend toward "bouquets that are loose, casual, wild, from the farmers market. . I like sunflowers." And the guests are likely to be limited to about six friends. "We mill about the yard and set up buffet-style. If we're sitting, it's family-style.

"We use our bigger dishes for presentation and share plates. I love wood things. A lot of stuff collected from random antique shops driving through Wisconsin, some French county, some Mexican. It shouldn't match — it's more fun. We have really fun lanterns we put around our backyard and add string lights from tree to tree. It makes our backyard feel like an outdoor cafe!"

How long is she willing to keep that cafe open? "Until a winter jacket is needed! When the temperature is in the 50s in Chicago, that still feels nice! When the weather gets cooler, we put out blankets and serve hot spiced apple cider. Makes you feel outdoorsy and allows you to enjoy fall!

Gary and I still grill all year long. We even grilled when it was 25 degrees. That's the nice thing about having a gas/wood grill. We just don't wait around outside. There really isn't an end. Just shovel your path, and maybe swap out the flip-flops for some nice warm snow boots!"

Elaine Markoutsas is a freelance writer.

Izard on the grill: Recipes for fall grilling

Quick marinated pork chops with grilled mushrooms and spaghetti squash

Makes: 4 servings

1 spaghetti squash, about 1 pound, halved lengthwise and cleaned of seeds

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds thin-sliced bone-in pork chops

1 cup sesame horseradish vinaigrette (recipe below), plus 1/2 cup for drizzling over finished dish

1 pound hen of the woods mushrooms, chopped into 2-inch chunks

Mushroom marinade (recipe below)

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Smear 3 tablespoons of butter on the flesh of each squash half, sprinkle with salt and place — flesh side up — in a cooler spot on the grill. Squash will cook for at least a half-hour, so allow ample time before cooking chops and mushrooms. It will be fork tender, all the way through, when ready. (You can cook the apples, recipe below, at the same time as the squash.)

Dunk chops in vinaigrette so they are coated on both sides. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side.

Toss chopped mushrooms into marinade, and place on grill. Cook until tender and caramelized.

When squash is cooked, use a fork and gently scrape flesh out. Toss with a sprinkle of salt.

Serve grilled pork chops over a bed of spaghetti squash, with mushrooms scattered over the top. Drizzle with reserved sesame horseradish vinaigrette.


At the Girl & the Goat, the hoopla's justified

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Girl & the Goat
809 W. Randolph, 312-492-6262
girlandthegoat.com

Chikurin Sushi & Asian Cuisine

1811 W. North, Ste. 103, 773-252-8880

Pensiero Ristorante
1544 Oak, Evanston, 847-475-7779
pensieroitalian.com

Girl & the Goat
809 W. Randolph, 312-492-6262
girlandthegoat.com

Chikurin Sushi & Asian Cuisine

1811 W. North, Ste. 103, 773-252-8880

Pensiero Ristorante
1544 Oak, Evanston, 847-475-7779
pensieroitalian.com

Stephanie Izard never had anything to prove to Chicago. Long before she conquered Top Chef , she was mistress of her domain at Bucktown's Scylla. Still, during the interminable two-year wait between her Season Four win and the opening of Girl & the Goat , she rode the rapids of a relentless if entertaining hype stream punctuated by tweets, blog posts, and innumerable public events. And unless you were lucky enough to score tickets to one of her well-publicized "underground" dinners (or to bear witness as a member of the city's increasingly compromised food media), word of them only served to heighten the anxiety: would Steph really pull it off?

With her partners in the Boka Restaurant Group&mdashwho've made a habit of backing formidable chefs such as Boka's Giuseppe Tentori and Perennial's Ryan Poli&mdashshe's made her stand in a cavernous space on Randolph's restaurant row. The second you spin through its revolving doors you're blasted with a besotting roasty meatgust issuing from the wood oven at the back of the room&mdasha sensation reinforced by the charred floor-to-ceiling divider and iron fireplace fixtures above the bar. It's as if you've stepped onto the scene of a smoldering barn fire where the former inhabitants are being put to the best possible use.

And there in the rear, backlit by kitchen light and open flame, is the Top Chef herself, sweating in front of the exposed line and expediting orders. The only indication she's anything more than a hardworking chef is the occasional snapshot break with grinning fans. Just over a month in action, that line was putting out some of my most memorable dishes of the year, as well as many very good ones, and only a few duds.

The menu of rustic, shareable small plates, broken down into vegetable, fish, and meat categories, is strongly seasonal&mdashmany are bound to have changed by the time you read this.

Unorthodox but not offputting combinations are Izard's thing: shaved root vegetables and blueberries in anchovy-buttermilk dressing, chicken with fermented black bean sauce and watermelon, smoked goat pizza with sour cherries, grilled lamb and avocado with tart pistachio sauce. She's particularly fond of mammalian garnishes on fish dishes a hiramasa crudo sprinkled with crispy lardons and drizzled with Peruvian chile aioli was one of the most delicate things I put in my mouth. Most everything else was simply and appealingly arranged: a crispy soft-shell crab dug itself out of a pile of sweet chile-lime corn that trumped the overpriced elotes so many restaurants were upselling this summer. Snails and goat meatballs with romesco and bagna cauda nestled in a crock. Shisito pepper roulette (one in ten will burn your face off) played out in a bowl, drizzled with creamy Parmesan-miso sauce. Clams and sausage in a tureen of thin cream sauce with just a few lonely strands of linguine was my biggest regret&mdashnot just oversauced but oversalted. I could have ordered more meat.

Committed restaurant-goers are by now comfortable with the whole beast, but Izard's efforts with the fifth quarter are truly original&mdashthe already notorious roasted pig face, slabs of luscious head meat stacked like pancakes with a fried egg on top and potato stix, being the exception. Though it's won most of the attention, the braised beef tongue with masa, salsa verde, and rough sauteed greens deserves more&mdashlike a Vietnamese banh mi, it's a beautiful orchestration of taste, texture, and temperature. The offal changes quite a bit: one night a dollop of deceptively light smoked, whipped fatback with biscuits and boubon-soaked onions appeared, along with a plate of thin, steaky goat-heart satay with sweet local peaches and pleasantly bitter radicchio.

Similarly, big goat rib roast and roasted veal legs come and go, and so does the changing bread service&mdashwhich will cost you. The hot doughy boule with liver butter and tart plum sauce was well worth the $4, though I'd recommend pacing the bread courses out to sop up the excess of later dishes.

Things get particularly heartbreaking at dessert, the likes of which won't soon be seen again. The sweet corn nougat&mdashpractically hidden on the bottom of a canning jar, tempered with a few drops of sherry vinegar and topped with crumbled bacon&mdashis the richest, coolest summer gold. That's almost rivaled by a creamy goat cheese bavaroise with crumbly brown sugar cake and blueberries, or a riff on a Fudgesicle with olive oil gelato drizzled in oak-aged ale.

This is my favorite new opening this year, only in small part because it's one of those rare instances where the hoopla is entirely justified.In fact, for once it serves a noble purpose: Izard's food, already validated on TV, will continue to get the attention it's always deserved long after the cameras stopped rolling. &mdashMike Sula

You might think Chikurin Sushi & Asian Cuisine sounds like just another ho-hum pan-Asian restaurant, but this sleek Bucktown newcomer has some surprises in store. Piquant ma po tofu was as good as most versions I've had in Chinatown, and Mongolian beef made with very tender meat surpassed many. Pork wasn't a protein choice for moo shu, and chicken couldn't compare, but the filling had the rest of the right stuff, and the pancakes were properly thin. With a touch more curry flavor, Singapore noodles with barbecued pork and jumbo shrimp could become my favorite late-night snack.

The sushi, on the other hand, is nothing special. Rice balls were a bit loose on one visit, fine on another. An inside-out Fuji roll was enjoyable except for the fibrous asparagus inside with the eel and crab. And soggy nori ruined a simple yellowtail-scallion maki with hardly any scallion. Intriguing but imperfect fusion takes on raw fish included "carpaccio" (aka sashimi) with thin slices of fiery green chile swimming in ponzu sauce, and slightly mushy tuna tartare with avocado, cilantro, and sesame oil, camera ready in a martini glass trailing curly threads of carrot and daikon.

Of the three hot appetizers we tried, tempura was coated with dense breading that wouldn't pass muster in any Japanese spot worth its name, and I couldn't taste the pickled cabbage in the kimchi pancakes. "Dynamite Mussels," stuffed with a mix of crab and mussels and baked, were better, but the sauce didn't live up to the name. Our one Thai entree, a red coconut-milk curry loaded with shrimp and vegetables, was rich and satisfying. Steamed rice is Japanese-style, short-grained and a bit sticky.

Judging from two visits, service needs work&mdashit might be wise to specify the order in which you want to receive your dishes. There's now a full bar. &mdashAnne Spiselman

This summer chef-consultant Alan Lake took over Evanston's much-loved Va Pensiero and transformed it into Pensiero Ristorante &mdashupgrading and refining the original concept rather than upending it, as the name suggests. Housed in the stately Margarita European Inn on a quiet side street, it still has that "special night out" feeling&mdashI'm sure it'll be packed on Northwestern's parents' weekend. But now it's got something more.

Italian cuisine hews strongly to tradition, and any variation can cause consternation in the homeland. When I ordered sliced beef with carrot puree once in Italy, an Italian dining companion declared that no countryman of his would ever dream of ordering such a thing. This strict mindset allows traditional recipes to flourish, but doesn't leave much room for experimentation. But here Lake is free to add Asiago cheese to fish&mdashheresy! Specifically he adds it to linguine diavolo, a spicy pasta dish of shrimp and oysters (mostly shrimp) with lobster essence, where it melts to impart a subtle, slippery texture to the perfectly al dente linguine without being gooey.

Likewise I've never had pork belly that was so unabashedly fatty and meltingly tender as Lake's in an Italian restaurant it's served with exotic mushrooms and a crispy risotto cake. He also deconstructs crostini alla Toscana (a Tuscan appetizer of hot chicken liver paste on bread), serving soft whole grilled chicken livers speared on sprigs of rosemary. A condiment of jam made with onions and sweet marsala wine from Sicily&mdashpractically a foreign country to northern Italians&mdashshowed a deft ability to cross regional borders in a single recipe. Seemingly weightless ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach, accompanied by cubes of sauteed tart apples and sprinkled with pistachios, played up the savory nature of a familiar dish.

A special of veal saltimbocca was perhaps a little heavy for a hot August night&mdashI actually enjoyed it more as leftovers the next day, when the earthy flavors had settled down a little bit. The accompanying crispy fried polenta, perfectly creamy on the inside, made me wish I knew the secret to replicating it at home. Diver scallops with sweet-sour caponata and a prosecco-orange beurre blanc was a more weather-appropriate choice. The menu will continue to change seasonally under permanent chef Christian Fantoni, who was brought on just this week.

A list of historic cocktails seemed a little jarring in this context, and held little appeal before a large meal. Better to stick to the wine list, which offers reasonably priced bottles from all over Italy and a good selection by the glass. &mdashHeather Kenny

[Editor's note: after a number chef changes, Pensiero Ristorante is now offering only limited hours.]

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ON TOP OF HER GAME

The menu Stephanie Izard planned, tossed out, then planned again was extravagant. Three courses, 10 dishes. Some brand new ideas. An old favorite or two. And each would use bacon.

Tiny bacon-flavored popovers topped with mascarpone and salmon. Eggplant caponata enriched with nectarines, pine nuts and bacon. Pork belly paired with celery root, apple and a rosemary vinaigrette.

"I picked things that I especially love with bacon," said the Chicago chef and "Top Chef" winner.

So when 100 foodies, Stephanie fans and "Top Chef" devotees gathered for the second installment of "The Wandering Goat" dinner series -- Izard's take on those Internet-organized movable feasts dubbed underground dinners -- the menu was impressive.

Flavors layered upon flavors. Unexpected pairings. Little luxuries. An indulgent feast that challenged diners' palates and culinary preconceptions.

With each dish, I'm always trying to make the whole mouth happy," says Izard. "You want to have a little acidity, you want a little sweetness, a little spice or a little salty." And you want to wow 'em. Which is what happened when 20 beautifully roasted, footlong baby barramundi -- heads attached, stuffed with fennel, red onion and garlic, then set atop a grilled peach-bacon-tomato-sweet-corn mix -- arrived at the tables. Foodie chatter shifted into overdrive.

Francis Sadac, a Chicago blogger and a habitue of the underground dining scene, snapped photos of the barramundi.

"Everybody loved the fish," says tablemate Beth Inlander of Chicago. "We made sure (Sadac) got his pictures before anybody took a bite."

The culinary conversation and camaraderie filling the cavernous room was fueled by Izard's decision to serve the meal family-style. Throughout the evening, huge, food-laden platters were toted to the 10 long tables in the airy loft tucked among warehouses near Fulton Street and Western Avenue.

"I've been following her on 'Top Chef' and Twitter," says Chicagoan Charlotte Walker, who arrived with a band of eight Stephanie fans and "Top Chef" devotees. "It will be fun to see what she's going to do -- and it would be great to meet her."

The passing around of platters, the sharing, "it makes people enjoy each other's company a little bit more, and you talk about the food you share," said Izard. "And it's more interactive."

Izard, the only woman to win top honors on Bravo's cooking reality show "Top Chef" so far, chef of The Drunken Goat, her opening-in-February restaurant on West Randolph Street, and owner of the now-shuttered Scylla restaurant in Bucktown, began a series of underground dinners in late summer dubbed The Wandering Goat. Two more are scheduled before year's end. She could probably do a couple more. The 100 tickets to the bacon evening sold out in 90 seconds, eclipsing her first underground feast's 9-minute sell-out time.

A chance to keep her restaurant muscles toned, Izard's idea for the dinners also appealed to her partners in The Drunken Goat endeavor, Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, a team that already owns three restaurants (Boka, Perennial, Landmark) and a catering business. "It was Stephanie's idea, and I just thought it was brilliant," Boehm says.

So by 10 a.m. on the day of the dinner, her culinary crew was at work at the vast stainless-steel tables, stoves and sinks of Kitchen Chicago, a shared-use professional kitchen that had donated its facilities for the evening.

For the 100 diners, Izard assembled her team -- made up of "a lot of friends who wanted to volunteer" -- 10 cooks, 10 servers. "I always like to have enough hands in the kitchen," she says. "It makes it a little less stressful."

There was Enoch Simpson, who had worked with her at Scylla. And Dave Gollan, who has been working with her since June and will be one of The Drunken Goat's sous chefs. Chefs Daniel Fox and Jason Veal from The Madison Club in Madison, Wis., drove in with loaves of fresh-baked bacon-and-ale bread before pitching in on prep.

Trays of grilled pork belly and lightly toasted tofu were stacked on carts. Fresh chopped herbs perfumed the air. Clean oyster shells -- set atop a stabilizing bed of dried green peas and black beans -- awaited plump, fried Kumamoto oysters drizzled with a vinaigrette, topped with a bit of bacon. Notes around the kitchen listed the dishes and a litany of their ingredients.

Sweet finishes to the meal from Jessie Oloroso (her Black Dog Gelato ice cream lollipops) and Daniel Herskovic (his Mayana Chocolate delicate toasted almond pralines, passion fruit hearts and more) were ready to go.

Boehm and Katz were on hand, setting up the dining area, tracking progress in the dining room and helping servers get platters to tables. "It's all about the attention to detail," says Katz.

In the dining room, staff readied tables and the wines -- including a 2006 Woollaston Pinot Noir and 2008 Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc -- while Three Floyds Brewery's Dan Tompkins and Lincoln Anderson set up taps to serve their Alpha King Pale Ale and Drunk Monk hefeweizen.

The room's only decorations: a purple and silver goat-shaped pinata (The Wandering Goat mascot) and a mannequin with a fresh fish for a head.

Guests began arriving at 6:30 p.m., notified of the address via e-mail the night before with this caveat: "This is privileged information that should not be shared with nonticket holders."

Two hours after the start of dinner and 10 hours after she and her team began the day's cooking, Izard emerged from the kitchen to applause. Beer in hand, she sat and chatted in the dining room filled with the lovely noise of conversation.

"The socializing adds to the entire experience," says David Inlander. "We were fortunate to be seated next to several fun people who . (told) stories about their appreciation of food, travel and, of course, the chef."

Consider your kitchen and dining room size before deciding the number of people to invite.

"Pick the proteins first," suggests chef Stephanie Izard, then use what's available and in season.

Do you have enough refrigerator space and oven space? If not, adjust the menu.

"You don't want to leave (cooking) all to that one day," Izard says. Can sauces, soups and braised meats be started a day before?

"Have a menu . (but) be flexible because you definitely want to base it on what's looking good at the market," she says.

Set tables with plates, wine glasses and cutlery then, says Kevin Boehm, check that serving platters will fit on the tables.

Reserve a staging or service area. Izard once used her ironing board for plating.

"About an hour before dinner, gather yourself and mentally prepare," says Izard. "Go through your list and make sure you've got everything."

*Mini bacon-popovers with smoked salmon, tomato and mascarpone

*Crisp Kumamoto oysters with bacon vinaigrette

*Linguine with clams, bacon, sausage and horseradish creme fraiche

Tofu with bacon, spiced lamb and tangy BBQ

Baby barramundi with bacon, grilled peach, heirloom tomato and sweet corn

Pork belly with celery root, apple and rosemary vinaigrette

Eggplant caponata with nectarine, pine nut and bacon

Rogue River Smokey Blue cheese with bacon, apple and fennel, ciabatta

Caramelized figs with fresh ricotta, tomato and bacon

Black Dog gelato lollipops

MINI BACON-POPOVERS WITH MASCARPONE AND SMOKED SALMON

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

1/2 pound smoked salmon, flaked

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove bacon from the fat with a slotted spoon reserve bacon for another use. Reserve 1/4 cup of the fat.

2. Whisk the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Combine the milk and eggs in a separate bowl fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until mixed completely. Pour 1/4 teaspoon of the bacon fat into each of the cups of two mini-muffin pans heat in oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven fill each cup a third of the way with batter, about 1 tablespoon each. Bake 5 minutes reduce heat to 350. Bake 13-15 minutes. Remove let cool on a baking rack.

3. Meanwhile combine salmon, capers, onion, lemon zest and juice and olive oil in a bowl. Spoon a bit of mascarpone on top of each popover (popovers should come out of oven with slight indentations if not, slice off tops to fill) top with salmon mixture.

LINGUINE WITH CLAMS, SAUSAGE AND HORSERADISH CREME FRAICHE

1/3 cup prepared horseradish

6 strips bacon, cut into pieces, 1/2 - inch wide by 1-inch long

1/2 pound mild Italian pork sausage, casings removed

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 small bulb fennel, minced

1/2 teaspoon sambal, see note

2 large cloves garlic, sliced

2 dozen manilla clams, scrubbed

Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper

1. Combine horseradish and creme fraiche in a small mixing bowl set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon cook 5 minutes. Add sausage in large chunks. Brown, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic and fennel reduce heat to medium. Cook until onions and fennel are soft and fragrant, 5 minutes. Stir in sambal. Remove mixture from heat set aside.

3. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil add linguine. Cook al dente, 7-9 minutes drain. Meanwhile, melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic cook 1 minute. Add wine heat to a simmer. Add clams cover. Steam clams until they open, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the sausage mixture to the clams in the Dutch oven. Add the linguine. Pour the horseradish-creme fraiche on top of the pasta toss to combine and coat the pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste add extra horseradish, if you like.

Note: Sambal is a spicy Indonesian chili sauce look for it in Asian food markets.

CRISP OYSTERS WITH BACON AIOLI

For the party, Izard adopted this recipe, thinning the aioli to make a vinaigrette instead. You could follow the directions here for aioli, or cut the oil in half to make it thinner. For sprouts, we used arugula and purple basil from Tiny Greens at Green City Market in Chicago you could substitute chopped chervil.

6 strips thick-cut bacon, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup blended oil (half canola, half olive oil) or grapeseed oil

Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper

12 oysters, shucked, shell bottoms reserved

1/3 cup each: cornstarch, flour

1 cup canola or peanut oil

Variety of sprouts, chopped

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon cook until crisp, 7-10 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate. Pour off some of the fat.

2. Put yolk, vinegar, mustard and honey in a blender. Pulse several times to combine. Drizzle in the oil with the blender running until all has been incorporated and a thick emulsion forms. Crumble the bacon reserve some for garnish. Add remaining bacon to blender blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Clean the bottoms of the oyster shells pat dry. Set aside. Rinse oysters to remove any shell bits pat dry. Whisk together the cornstarch and flour in a large bowl. Fold in the beer to make a loose batter, adding more beer if the batter seems too thick.

4. Heat oil to 365 degrees in a deep medium saucepan or Dutch oven. Dunk oysters in the batter, coating thoroughly. Carefully slip oysters into hot oil, in batches if necessary fry until crisp and golden. Remove from oil with slotted spoon sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Put a spoonful of aioli on each of the cleaned oyster shells. Top with fried oyster. Garnish with dollop of aioli, sprouts and bits of bacon.


Chicago, Illinois

Wood-fired char siu ribs at Stephanie Izard’s Duck Duck Goat in Chicago. (Photo: Galdones Photography.)

Duck Duck Goat
James Beard Award–winning Stephanie Izard is the executive chef and partner of two of Chicago’s most popular restaurants, Girl & the Goat and Little Goat. Her third venture, which opened last week, brings reasonably authentic Chinese cuisine to the city’s Fulton Market area. The menu draws from her travels throughout China, to Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Taiwan, as well as her experiences from Chinatowns across the U.S. The menu is divided into seven sections, including dim sum, hot soups, cold dishes, noodles, fried rice, main and large dishes. Highlights include freshly made crab rangoon, made-to-order pork and crab soup dumplings, goat belly lo mein, crispy frog legs and potato with house-made oyster sauce, and, of course, Peking duck. A pastry program focuses on Taiwanese desserts. The venue itself combines the objects and design aesthetics brought to the U.S. by Chinese immigrants post WWII and Western aesthetics of the time. Each dining room at the restaurant is designed to be somewhat like a theater experience, with the indoor/outdoor style of Chinatowns brought to life. 857 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 duckduckgoatchicago.com


Top Chef Winners: Where Are They Now?

Season 13 of Bravo’s hit reality cooking series Top Chef premiered this month, which made us wonder: what do winners do after taking home the grand prize? We took a trip down memory lane to catch up on all of the champions, way back to the first season in 2006.

A few learnings: More often than not, Top Chef winners go on to open their own restaurant (or two or three of them). Only three out of 12 Top Chefs are women, and some are more high-profile than others. Some have won James Beard Awards, while others have found careers in television. Many have opened or are planning on opening fast-casual concepts.

Here’s an overview of Top Chef winners, then and now.

1. Harole Dieterle

New York native Harold Dieterle won the first season of Top Chef, set in San Francisco in 2006, after besting runner-up Tiffani Faison in the final challenge in Las Vegas. Following stints at Della Femina in the Hamptons and Red Bar and 1770 House in New York City, he worked as a sous chef at The Harrison, also in NYC.

After taking home the $100,000 prize, Harold became a New York City restaurateur. He opened his first restaurant, Perilla, in 2007, and three years later he opened a Thai restaurant called Kin Shop. Later he opened a third concept, The Marrow.

Sadly, none of Harold’s restaurants have stood the test of time. In October 2014 he said goodbye to The Marrow, and last month he announced he would be closing Perilla and Kin Shop as well. In an interview with Eater he attributed his decision to the rising cost of doing business in New York, adding, “It’s gotten to the point where I’m not having fun and enjoying myself. I’m not saying I never want to return to the restaurant business, but right now, I’m feeling a little beat up and a little tired.”

Up next: Harold and his wife are expecting their first child in February, so he’s planning to take some time off. But he expressed interest in opening a fast-casual concept down the road.

2. Ilan Hall

Filmed in Los Angeles, season two was the first time we saw Padma Lakshmi — now a star on Top Chef and beyond — take over as host. Ilan Hall (also a New Yorker) beat Marcel Vigneron in the season finale in Hawaii, amid plenty of heated rivalry between the two contestants. (Fun fact: Ilan and Marcel studied at the CIA at the same time. Apparently they have since made amends.)

Ilan was a line cook at New York City’s Casa Mono before winning Top Chef. In 2009 he opened his first restaurant, The Gorbals, in Los Angeles, but it closed within a week — the county health department shut it down due to an inadequate water heater. Happily it reopened a couple of months later, and in 2014 he opened a second location in Brooklyn. The same year, he announced he would be moving the location of the L.A. restaurant and changing the menu to be almost entirely vegan (it hasn’t reopened yet).

Now, Ilan is the host of Knife Fight, another reality cooking show in which two cooks square off, preparing dishes using a few designated ingredients in just one hour.

Up next: This week, Ilan announced he’s shutting The Gorbals in Brooklyn, changing the concept and the name. Esh — Hebrew for “fire” — will serve Israeli-Middle Eastern barbecue.

3. Hung Huynh

Season three of Top Chef took place in Miami and ended in Aspen, where Hung Huynh, a Vietnamese-American chef, beat two runners-up: Dale Levitski and Casey Thompson. Hung cooked at Per Se and Gilt in New York and held the post of Executive Sous Chef at Guy Savoy Las Vegas before joining the show.

After Top Chef, Hung competed in the 2008 Bocuse d’Or USA contest, with the aim of representing the United States at the international competition the following year. He lost out to Chef Timothy Hollingsworth but went on open a number restaurants with the EMM Group — The General, Catch, Lexington Brass — helping the group expand globally.

After four years, he cut his ties with the group in February 2015, frustrated that he wasn’t “taken seriously by somewhere like the New York Times” working with the large business.

Up next: There’s no word on Hung’s next project, but he wants it to be national in scope. He added, “I think the direction is going toward much more simple and healthy fare. I think the direction is more casual, and less expensive.”

4. Stephanie Izard

In Top Chef: Chicago, Chef Stephanie Izard was named winner over Lisa Fernandes and Richard Blais after a Puerto Rico finale featuring famous New York chefs Eric Ripert, Dan Barber and April Bloomfield. Notably, Stephanie was the first female chef to win Top Chef, and she’s also among the most high-profile alums from the show.

She worked at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant Vong before moving opening her first restaurant, Scylla, in Chicago’s Bucktown (she was only 27). Reviews were positive, although Scylla shuttered in 2007, and Stephanie opened her flagship Girl and the Goat with the BOKA Group after her Top Chef win. Again, she received rave reviews for the restaurant, following it with another project, Little Goat, in 2011.

In 2012, Stephanie was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes award, and she took home the title in 2013.

Up next: Stephanie is getting ready to open Duck Duck Goat, a Chinese-inspired concept with handmade noodles and dumplings — and a takeout window. It’s currently slated for early 2016, and preview tickets go on sale soon.

5. Hosea Rosenberg

In this New York-based season, Hosea Rosenberg wowed judges over Stefan Richter and Carla Hall (now a food television darling). They went head to head in New Orleans, with runners-up from previous seasons as sous chefs.

Hosea worked under established chefs such as Wolfgang Puck before becoming Executive Chef at Jax Fish House. After Top Chef, he opened a catering business, Blackbelly Catering, followed by Blackbelly Farm. His first restaurant — appropriately, Blackbelly Market — came to life in 2011 with a true farm-to-table philosophy, in which the team raises their own livestock and grows organic vegetables for the restaurant.

Up next: In September Hosea announced Blackbelly’s plans to expand its butcher operations, taking over the space next door to the restaurant. Breakfast and lunch operations will move into the new space, along with offerings such as pickles, cured meats and cheeses.

6. Michael Voltaggio

One of the most memorable competitions in Top Chef history was when Michael Voltaggio took on his brother Bryan, along with Chef Kevin Gillespie, in Las Vegas, concluding the season in Napa. Their mother surprised them with an appearance at the finale, turning the occasion into a full-on family affair.

Both Voltaggios grew up in Maryland Bryan attended culinary school, but Michael didn’t. Instead, he apprenticed at The Greenbrier and cooked at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. During his time as Chef de Cuisine at The Bazaar by Jose Andres, the restaurant was nominated by the James Beard Foundation for the Best New Restaurant award.

After Top Chef, Michael worked as Chef de Cuisine at The Dining Room in Pasadena and later decided to open his own restaurant, ink., in West Hollywood. The restaurant was highly acclaimed, and Michael followed up with a sandwich shop, ink.sack, just a few doors down.

Up next: Last month, Michael and Bryan announced they are planning to open a steakhouse at MGM National Harbor casino in their home state, Maryland. Although Bryan has nine restaurants of his own, this will be the brothers’ first joint venture.

7. Kevin Sbraga

Starting in Washington D.C., this season culminated in Chef Kevin Spraga coming out as champion over Ed Cotton and Angelo Sosa in Singapore — the series’ first international venue.

Kevin became Culinary Director of Jose Garces’ Garces Restaurant Group in 2008. (He also won Best Meat Presentation at the Bocuse d’Or USA.) At the time that he joined Top Chef, he was the Executive Chef at Rat’s in Hamilton, New Jersey, and after the show wrapped he decided, like many others, that it was time to do his own thing.

In October 2011 Kevin opened his eponymous restaurant Sbraga, earning accolades from Bon Appetit, Zagat and Esquire. He has since opened two additional restaurants, The Fat Ham and Sbraga & Company, both showcasing creative dishes inspired by Southern cuisine and traditions.

Up next: Sbraga & Company just opened in November in Jacksonville, so Kevin is taking on an entirely new market. The project is a partnership with Colicchio Consulting — helmed by Phil Colicchio (cousin of Top Chef‘s Tom Colicchio) — which unites business developers and culinary talent.

8. Richard Blais

Season 8 was Top Chef: All-Stars — all of the contestants were chefs who had competed in previous seasons but missed out on the title. The prize money also doubled from $100,000 to $200,000. Filmed in New York and concluding in The Bahamas, the season saw Chef Richard Blais beat Mike Isabella in the final episode.

Blais, a New Yorker, graduated from the CIA and trained at an impressive list of establishments, including The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse, and elBulli. He moved to Atlanta in 2000 and founded his own culinary company Trail Blais, opening Flip Burger (with locations in Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville) and Juniper & Ivy (San Diego).

He first appeared on the fourth season of Top Chef, where he was the runner-up to Chef Stephanie Izard. After winning All-Stars, he became a regular food TV star, hosting the show Cook Your Ass Off on HLN and the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship, and of course, judging Top Chef. He published a cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, which was nominated for a 2014 James Beard Award.

Up next: Last month Richard opened another San Diego restaurant, The Crack Shack, an all-day chicken and eggs concept that marks his first foray into the fast-casual space.

9. Paul Qui

In Season 9, Top Chef: Texas, Chef Paul Qui took the Top Chef title over Sarah Grueneberg. With 29 chefs total, there were many more contestants this season than in previous ones. Bravo also introduced the “Last Chance Kitchen” webcasts, in which eliminated contestants continued to compete and the final winner was invited back to the competition.

Paul was born in the Philippines and grew up in Virginia before moving to Austin for culinary school. He trained under Chef Tyson Cole at Uchi and helmed the kitchen at Uchiko, where he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. During that time, he and Moto Utsunomiya started a side project: East Side King, a food truck that’s grown into a five-location concept.

He was already planning to open his own restaurant when he joined Top Chef, but the experience took him in a new direction and gave him the visibility to be able to do so. (Tom Colicchio later called Paul the most talented chef to ever compete on the show.) After Top Chef he opened the doors to qui, an Asian-inspired that has received wide acclaim for its inventive tasting menu.

Up next: Earlier this year Paul announced plans to open Otoko, a 12-seat omakase-style restaurant, in Austin’s South Congress Hotel. In the summer, Food & Wine reported that he is also opening a restaurant outside of Texas for the first time — he’s joining chefs Gabriel Ask and Francis Mallman to start concepts in the Faena Hotel. His is called Pao.

10. Kristen Kish

This Seattle-based season saw Chef Kristen Kish trump Brooke Williamson in the finale. It also added another layer to the “Last Chance Kitchen” series: viewers could vote to save chefs from elimination, and the contestants with the most votes were invited back to the final round of the webcast.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kristen grew up in Michigan and studied cooking in Chicago. (She was also a model in high school.) She worked as an instructor at Stir, a demo kitchen and cookbook store founded by Chef Barbara Lynch, before going on to be named Chef de Cuisine at Lynch’s restaurant Menton. She helmed the back-of-house there until 2014.

In 2015 she co-hosted a new Travel Channel series, 36 Hours, based on the New York Times column.

Up next: Last week the Boston Globe reported that Kristen landed a publisher for the cookbook she’s been working on, a collection of � technique-driven recipes.”

11. Nicholas Elmi

In the 11th season in New Orleans, Chef Nicholas Elmi won over Nina Compton and Bravo introduced “Padma’s Picks,” a web series in which local chefs competed for the chance to join the official roster of contestants. His win was actually somewhat controversial Nicholas had survived a few near-eliminations and was considered the underdog of the season.

He has an impressive resume, having cooked at Guy Savoy Paris, Oceana and Lutece, among other restaurants. His own Philadelphia restaurant Laurel debuted just a month after Top Chef premiered it’s a French-inspired BYOB concept with a small, intimate dining room. In March of this year he transitioned to a tasting menu-only format at Laurel.

Up next: Last year Eater reported that Nicholas was planning to open a second restaurant, but nothing has been announced. He is, however, expanding Laurel into the space next door, giving him room for a bar.

12. Mei Lin

In the last full season, set in Boston, Chef Mei Lin was named Top Chef over Gregory Gourdet, and former winner Richard Blais came back as a recurring judge.

Mei grew up outside Detroit, and she comes from a culinary family. She worked alongside her father at the family’s owned-and-operated restaurant before going on to cook with Michael Symon at Roast Marcus Samuelsson at C-House and Wolfgang Puck at Spago Las Vegas. She was part of the opening team at ink., the restaurant launched by former Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio, and was ultimately named Sous Chef.

After her win, Mei told Eater that she wants to open a restaurant of her own but didn’t share any specific details — only that she wants it to be casual, with quick-service lunch and full-service dinner.


Roast Valuable Player

Once you get a little more comfortable with the meat, you can venture into roasting it. "Goat is pretty lean, so you need to treat it carefully if you're roasting it," Andrew Carmellini, chef of NoHo Hospitality Group, tells us. At Carmellini's latest restaurant, Leuca, which focuses on Southern Italian food, he serves goat in a fazzoletti pasta.

While you can roast the leg low and slow, once you find a good purveyor of goat, you can play around with different cuts. Izard has run goat loin on her menu, serving it with pickled ramps and blackberries. She recommends checking out your local farmers' market to find a good source of goat, making sure it's super fresh.


Watch the video: Top Chef alum, Girl and the Goat owner Stephanie Izard


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