Welcome to Mt. Chefmore, Chicago-Style
Local Chefs and Food Creators/Media Select Their All Time Chicago Chef Lineup
There’s probably a lot of people who’d like to blow up Mt. Rushmore and start over. Certainly, hardcore Republicans would like to make Dakota great again and shove Trump’s face up there (Might need a truckload of orange citrine). We know modern progressives would probably prefer their rock augmented with an Obama face.
Given that Mt. Rushmore is protected by the National Park Service, none of these things is likely to happen. That doesn’t mean we can’t redefine the sculpture in our minds, though. That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago when my friend Dave Andrews asked me who would be on my personal Mt. Rushmore of Chicago chefs.
We talked some more and realized this whole idea makes for kind of a cool parlor game. It’s also not easy. Frankly it’s kind of impossible given the tens of thousands of restaurants that have operated in the history of Chicago. Do you count mentoring ability, social impact, the invention of a new way of cooking, or the success of a chef’s family tree? Or all of these things?
I didn’t think my own answer alone would be particularly useful, but I believed that an aggregate study of experts might yield some fun observations, so I reached out to about 80 local food writers, content creators, and Chicago chefs. 60+ of the folks I reached out to participated.1
Name your Chicago Chef version of Mt. Rushmore, 4 names plus 3 honorable mentions. You can justify why with a sentence, or not at all. Your choice.
Now. I know. Lists. They suck. But, that’s also why I didn’t tell people what the criteria should be and let them define that for themselves. You could make this whatever you want. I started with chefs here but I hope to do different versions of this lists for owners, front of house, pastry chefs, mixologists, and more in the future.
I’m going to release the results of the surveys and some analysis next week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so you have something fun to talk about at Thanksgiving dinner or something to doom scroll through when your drunk uncle drones on about his plan for scoring Black Friday doorbusters.
The schedule for next week:
Monday – Food writers’ and creators’ selections
Wednesday – Chefs’ selections
Friday – My list with some general observations and....I’d also like to feature you all!
If you want to participate, comment with your Rushmore list below, and I’ll highlight a few reader selections next Friday.
As an added bonus, I’ll randomize a list of any reader who provides their personal Rushmore selections and select one to receive a first edition (true first edition, first printing – can't get these anymore) copy of the Alinea restaurant cookbook – I'll even sign it if you want me to – unfortunately I can’t get Grant Achatz to sign it for you since he doesn’t live in my house. The only other catch is you also have to be a paid subscriber to The Hunger to receive a book.
If you’re not a paid subscriber, but want to be (and you do because this content is hot) I’m also running a Black Friday week sale for new paid subscriptions that saves you 20% off a monthly or annual subscription. Normally I only do this for annual subscriptions, but I’m extending this to monthly subscriptions as well since it’s a holiday (that’s only $4!).
This discount also works for gift subscriptions. You don’t have that many shopping days left before Christmas. Why not hook up your food loving friends with a gift that you know they’ll love? Given that I generally write a lot of words, I also won’t be mad if you give a gift subscription to an enemy who hates reading. Your call. Just click on the link and select the “gift” option at the top.
Talk to y’all, next week!
If I didn’t ask you to participate, it wasn’t intentional. It probably means I didn’t have a great contact for you or you didn’t check your IG DMs. In fact, if you do want to be included, email me by Sunday firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include your response. If you were asked and declined, but now you’ve changed your mind, I’m happy to have you too.