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Entries in Chicago (4)

Monday
Apr112011

Chicago school bans homemade lunches, the latest in national food fight

Students who attend Chicago's Little Village Academy public school get nothing but nutritional tough love during their lunch period each day. The students can either eat the cafeteria food--or go hungry. Only students with allergies are allowed to bring a homemade lunch to school, the Chicago Tribune reports.

"Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," principal Elsa Carmona told the paper of the years-old policy. "It's about ... the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke."

But students said they would rather bring their own lunch to school in the time-honored tradition of the brown paper bag. "They're afraid that we'll all bring in greasy food instead of healthy food and it won't be as good as what they give us at school," student Yesenia Gutierrez told the paper. "It's really lame."

Monday
Apr112011

Bidding Frenzy for Tickets to Eat at Next in Chicago

Taking equal inspiration from Wrigley Field scalpers and the city’s grittiest pawn shops, food- and cash-obsessed Chicagoans have started a vibrant trade in tickets to a new restaurant, with bidding in one case hitting $3,000 for a group of seats overlooking the kitchen.

The cause of this amateur online auctioneering is Next, the newest offering from a local celebrity chef, Grant Achatz, whose acclaimed restaurant Alinea usually has a line. But that’s nothing compared to the frenzy currently engulfing Next, which opened Wednesday with a policy that eschews reservations by phone. Instead, diners purchase one-time-only, all-inclusive tickets — dinner, drinks, tip, gawking — for one set price that begins roughly in the $45 to $75 range.

It is that set price — and, presumably, the food — that has led to bidding wars by diners desperate to order from a menu that requires at least a year of high school French and a gastronomic dictionary (Caneton Rouennais à la Presse, par example).

As first reported by Eater.com, dozens of tickets have been offered for resale, ranging from $500 (a table for two, on a Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.) to six times that for a table for six at the chef’s elbow. (That seller later decided to keep the seats.)

Monday
Mar282011

Goose Island's John Hall promises commitment to creativity won't change

Beer geeks are already wringing their hands that the sale of Goose Island Beer Co. to Anheuser-Busch -- better known as Budweiser -- will compromise one of craft beer's leading lights.

But Goose founder and Chief Executive Officer John Hall said the brewery's commitment to interesting and creative beer, like the recently released Pepe Nero (a black saison) or the upcoming Big John (a stout aged with cocoa nibs) will not change.

"They didn’t buy us to change what we’re doing," says Hall, who will remain as CEO.

If AB was going to water down the product, "I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have worked 23 years to build what I have to (throw) it away in five minutes."
Friday
Jan142011

Chipotle Puts Soup On Chicago Menus

(Crain's) — After years of a relatively unchanged menu, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has added soup to its menu.

Chicago-area restaurants, which handed out free samples of posole soup over the past week, launched the item Monday. The chain's home market — Denver — is the only other market to have the new item, says Chairman and Co-CEO Steve Ells.

"We think Chicago is a great market," he said in an interview Tuesday. "I love posole. It's a great cold-weather addition to the menu."

Chipotle's posole is a vegan soup — made without any animal products — with a tomato and hominy base, vegetables, and seasoned with spices like cumin and fresh herbs like oregano.

An 8-ounce portion sells for $3.33; it can be garnished with chicken for $4.70.

"We’ve had a lot of interest from customers in our web comments," Mr. Ells said. "They (were) interested in a soup, so we’re going to give it a try there and see how it does."

Further embellishments could turn it into a chicken posole bowl with rice, meat and chips for $5.53, Mr. Ells said.

Denver-based Chipotle’s last new menu addition was salads more than three years ago.

At the company’s Oct. 21 third-quarter earnings call, Mr. Ells said that it was putting soup in a couple of markets on a limited basis during the fall. He also said the company was testing breakfast tacos and burritos at the Washington, D.C.-area Dulles International Airport.

The 18-year-old chain, which gained national scale under former owner McDonald’s Corp., has been considering other menu changes, including a kids menu.