Celebrate the James Beard Awards and some of Chicago’s favorite past JBF winners and nominees at home with two exclusive boxes from Here Here Market, Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association.
By: Lisa Shames
The excitement of the James Beard Awards isn’t limited to the lucky guests attending its gala in Chicago. An exclusive collaboration between Here Here Market, Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association, the ‘Celebrate James Beard Chicago Alumni’ Collection boxes feature food and drink products from a dream team of beloved Chicago hospitality folk. An added bonus: A portion of the collection’s proceeds directly supports both acclaimed local chefs and up-and-coming culinary talent through a dedicated scholarship offered by the James Beard Foundation. Doing good just got a lot more delicious.
Get the inside scoop on how these JBF Chefs love to use their products.
Contrary to what you may think, Luella’s Southern Popcorn isn’t named after the chef who makes it. Rather, Darnell Reed named the incredibly addictive sweet-and-salty snack, as well as his beloved Lincoln Square restaurant, after his great-grandmother Luella Funches. Luella’s flair in the kitchen and legendary holiday meals made a big impact on the young Reed, who returned to his roots and the recipes of his grandmother for his culinary inspiration. “We are using local popcorn kernels from Three Sisters Farm in Kankakee and giving it special attention, as we do with our restaurant recipes, with from-scratch cane sugar caramel and real cheddar cheese,” he says. “I pride myself on preparing food with flavors you don’t find everywhere.” For Reed, this will be his first time attending the James Beard Awards in person, and is very excited to be part of the action. As for having his popcorn featured in the ‘Celebrate JBF Chicago Alumni’ collection? “We just like the idea that our popcorn is part of a great lineup of products featuring some amazing chefs.” Luella would be proud too.
While her award-winning restaurants feature bold flavors from around the world, James Beard “Best Chef: Great Lakes” winner Stephanie Izard has a confession to make. “I’m a bit of a spice wimp,” she says. Her lack of heat tolerance, however, never gets in the way of creating crave-worthy dishes. In fact, it was her signature green beans from her first restaurant, Girl & the Goat, and the frequent requests from diners for its sauce that inspired Izard to create This Little Goat, a line of cooking sauces, spices and crunches. All of This Little Goat products originate from recipes at her restaurants, including her Yucatan sauce, which has a ton of brightness and flavor without an overwhelming amount of heat, says Izard. “We first created our Yucatan sauce for a pulled pork dish at Girl & the Goat and then began using it on fish tacos at Little Goat,” she says. But the sauce doesn’t have to stop there. Izard recommends using it to flavor boost salad dressings and marinades.
Long before the word “mixologist” became commonplace, Charles Joly was studying the rich traditions of the cocktail world while thoughtfully plying his trade. Now with more than 20 years of hospitality industry experience and four James Beard nominations, Joly’s name has become synonymous with impeccably crafted cocktails, which led to his partnership with Fortessa. “We developed Crafthouse by Fortessa from scratch, with attention to small details to really blend function and beautiful form,” says Joly. “I'm very into vintage and antiquing, so you'll catch a lot of classic design cues in my pieces.” For Joly, the jigger is one of the most important tools in a bartending set, as getting the measurements right will help ensure drinks are balanced and consistent. A Chicagoan through and through, Joly couldn’t be prouder to be part of the ‘Celebrate JBF Chicago Alumni Collection.’ “It's very cool to have my wares alongside the creations of some of our top chefs,” he says. “A cocktail, glass of wine or other thoughtful beverage is always within reach when we sit down for a meal. It's fun to have a hand in the liquid side of these experiences.”
When Mott St. customers make suggestions, owners Chef Edward Kim and his sister, Vicki Kim, listen. Case in point: their Miso Caramel and Everything Sauces. “These are both products that existed on our menu, and we had already been using to create some of our favorite dishes,” says Edward. “Our guests loved them so much that they asked if we could jar them up and take them home.” Like the thoughtful food served at Mott St., the sauces follow a set code of principles. “They're small-batch, chef-created, and made by people that care about our product and have a trained palate to make sure that they taste great,” says Edward. He recommends using the Everything Sauce on buttered noodles, and as a marinade for almost any meat, while the Miso Caramel is a great finish for vanilla or chocolate ice cream, or brownies and cake.
An Italian-born chef who spent nine years working at fine-dining restaurant Charlie Trotter’s may not be the first person you’d think of when it comes to creating a tasty hot sauce. But Giuseppe Tentori is nothing if not filled with delicious surprises. Tentori joined the esteemed Chicago restaurant group Boka at its namesake restaurant in 2007, earning a Michelin Star and James Beard Award nominations in the process. Since then, he has opened two Boka restaurants, GT Prime Steakhouse and GT Fish & Oyster. It’s the latter which helped inspire his Smoulder Hot Sauce. “I have a seafood restaurant and this sauce is perfect to pair with my clam chowder and oysters,” he says. “Plus, it’s a great addition to any home’s pantry.” Made with jalapeños, red pepper and vinegar, this sauce delivers a smoldering (hence the name) punch of heat that’s perfectly balanced and never overwhelming. Tentori says, “For home cooking, this sauce is great for wings, chili, taco Tuesday and late-night pizza.” Spoken like a true Italian.
To learn more about the James Beard Chicago Alumni boxes and purchase one for yourself, head to our collection page here.