Last Thursday, for four and a half hours McCormick Place was a little piece of foodie heaven. Over 70 top chefs from the Chicago area catered Recipe for Relief, an all-you-can-eat benefit for New Orleans hurricane survivors. 100% of the money raised went to America’s Second Harvest and the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund.
We had a fantastic time stuffing ourselves silly until a food coma forced us to stop midway through the evening. The food… was… amazing! And there was so much of it! And it was all-you-can-eat! And did I mention it was great?! They were all there — Restaurants I’ve been to and loved (312 Chicago, Atwood Café, Erwin, West Town Tavern,) restaurants I can’t afford (Charlie Trotter’s, Brasserie Jo, North Pond, Le Titi de Paris,) and some great new ones to try (China Grill, Spring/Green Zebra, Harry Caray’s, and Tin Fish.)
The real attraction for me though was that Susan Spicer, the chef/owner of my favorite restaurant on the planet was there. Anyone who’s eaten at Bayona knows, if Susan Spicer comes to your town, and cooks, it’s not to be missed.
Here’s a rundown of some of what we sampled that night:
- tuna tartar with avocado on a homemade potato chip (Tin Fish) — went back three times!
- vanilla bean flan (Adobo)
- sweet potato bread pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla salt (Courtright’s) — vanilla salt, the new secret ingredient!
- roasted corn and cranberry tamale
- grilled shrimp with black bean cake and coriander sauce (Bayona)
- simmered pork and black bean (Frontera Grill) — with Rick Bayless himself serving
- chocolate-hazelnut cupcake (Bittersweet)
- pumpkin gelato
- parsley soup with smoked mussels (North Pond)
- lamb with homemade gnocchi (312 Chicago)
- beef risotto (Harry Carey’s)
- curried corn chowder (Spring/Green Zebra)
- beef with frits (China Grill)
- muffaletta (West Town Tavern)
- bananas foster crepe
- dates stuffed with chorizo wrapped in bacon (Avec)
- cream of mushroom soup (Blue 160)
- chilled candy-striped beets with goat cheese and hazelnuts