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Monday, November 29

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Chef Thu Aug 05 2010

Chefs Take Center Stage in Farmers Market Challenge

This afternoon, the Daley Plaza Farmers Market was host to a culinary competition starring some familiar Chicago chefs. The fourth annual COUNTRY Chef Competition showcased the quick, fresh-food talents of Ivan Yuen, chef de cuisine at the Peninsula Hotel's Shanghai Terrace, Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno, and Patrick Fahy, head paster chef at Blackbird. The contest was judged by Gaztro-Wagon mastermind Matt Maroni, WLS's Roe Conn, and Sun-Times food blogger Janet Fuller, and emceed by CBS 2's Steve Baskerville.

Fahy ultimately took the win and its corresponding "Master of the Market" title, but all three chefs prepared exciting dishes with only 30 minutes to shop the market for ingredients and 30 minutes to cook and plate the food. And when I spoke to the trio before the competition, I found that each chef brought his own ideas about what to look for and choose for yourself when shopping at a farmers market.

"Finding some fresh fruits and vegetables can be hard in Asia," remarked Yuen. At Shanghai Terrace, he tries to take advantage of local vegetable and fruit selections when preparing menus. Yuen has worked at Shanghai Terrace for seven years, working his way up from a soux chef. He took advantage of the fresh herbs and spices available at the market to bring an Asian touch to his dish.

vegetablesGiven his Italian heritage and his expertise in that country's cuisine, it should come as no surprise that Tony Priolo opted for lots of fresh tomatoes and basil in his dishes. Priolo is no stranger to farm-grown local produce: his Piccolo Sogno has many greens and vegetables grown specially for the restaurant by Green Acres Farms. What does he look for when shopping at farmers markets like the one in Daley Plaza? "Whatever's in season."

fruit.jpgPastry chef Patrick Fahy had sweeter things in mind when surveying the farmers market produce. "Stone fruits, like plums, and peaches, are great right now," said Fahy, and he definitely took advantage of them in his dishes. His winning menu included peach crepes, plum cake, and even a sweet corn panna cotta. All this, mind you, in just 30 minutes. Fahy noted that Blackbird and avec visit Green City Market, Daley Plaza, or other local farmers markets on a weekly basis to look for goodies.

The contest was sponsored by farmer-founded insurance and investment firm COUNTRY Financial, and you'll be able to find all of this afternoon's recipes later this week on the company's website. Then, you'll be able to storm any of the city's farm-fresh food meccas and whip up some 30-minute delights of your own. No panel of judges or countdown timer required.


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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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