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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, June 30

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Michelin Guide Thu Oct 29 2015

The 2016 Michelins Are Out; Do You Know What That Means?

Michelin_Man_CH_2016_Cover.jpg Earlier this week, Michelin announced its Chicago star rankings on the tail-end of announcing its Bib Gourmand Awards -- a status that indicates the best value for price (two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less before tax and gratuity). When Parachute and Dusek's didn't make the Bib Gourmand list, both the Tribune and Crain's predicted a star was most likely on the way. They were right; both restaurants joined the starred list, earning one star each. Acadia moved from one star to two, which is impressive considering they had to close for six weeks this summer and lost a large amount of their staff. Among those still retaining their starred status on the list are Alinea, Boka, Blackbird, Everest, Longman & Eagle, Sixteen, Sepia, Spiaggia, NAHA and Tru. A total of 22 stars were awarded down from 24 in 2015 and 26 in 2014. You can see the complete list below.

If you've ever wondered what tires and food have in common, the story goes as follows. In 1900, French tire manufacturer André Michelin and his brother Édouard needed to sell some tires. Seeking to create interest in more cars, and thereby, more tires, they published the then blue Michelin Guide as a travel guide. The restaurant section was apparently a hit so the brothers started recruiting people to anonymously review restaurants for the guide. By the '20s, they were awarding worthy restaurants with one star, and by the '30s, the three star standard was created that still exists today. The review committee is completely anonymous and purports to visit the restaurant throughout the year to judge on five criteria: product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef's personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time and across the entire menu -- likely one of the reasons why Next hasn't been able to find its way on the list. Three stars = Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey, Two stars = Excellent cuisine, worth a detour, and One star = A very good restaurant in its category -- original designations that are still used today.

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Brandy Gonsoulin / Comments (1)

Michelin Guide Wed Nov 05 2014

Parachute and Dusek's Among New Michelin Bib Gourmand Awards

web-m2bg.jpgMichelin, known for tires and dining recommendations, announced their Chicago Bib Gourmand recipients this morning. While it's not the same as receiving the heralded Michelin star, it's an acknowledgement that a restaurant is doing something right and affordable; these are the places where two courses and a glass of wine (or dessert) can be had for $40 or less. Past recipients include Purple Pig, Girl & the Goat, and Nightwood. This year's new class of recipients include:
Hyde Park's A10, Wicker Park's Azzurra EnoTavola and Carriage House, River North's Beatrix and Untitled, West Town's The Dawson, Dusek's in Pilsen, Edgewater's Herb, Avondale's Parachute (see our review), Logan Square's Table, Donkey and Stick, and River West's Two.

Robyn Nisi

Michelin Guide Wed Nov 09 2011

Chicago's Got Some New Bibs

Bib-Gourmand.jpgThis morning Michelin announced its list of Bib Gourmand restaurants in the 2012 Michelin Guide Chicago. Bib Gourmand, if you recall, is a designation slightly below a star, indicating a restaurant is "an inspector's favorite for good value," where two courses and a glass of wine or dessert can be had for $40 or less. Seventeen new restaurants made the list, while six were dropped -- in most cases because they closed. The new restaurants are:

Gemini Bistro
GT Fish & Oyster
Jin Thai
Kabul House (Skokie)
Lao Sze Chuan
Maude's Liquor Bar
Mundial Cocina Mestiza
Owen & Engine
Perennial Virant
Sen (Oak Park)
Sol de Mexico
Xni-Pec de Yucutan (Brookfield)
Yolo (Skokie)

Former awardees Bistro 110, Kith & Kin, mado, Otom and Veerasway all closed within the past year, while Perennial has transformed into Perennial Virant, which made the list. The only outright drop was Frances' Deli, a Lincoln Park institution opened in 1938.

The full list of Bib Gourmand restaurants is below. The star announcement will be next Tuesday, Nov. 15, with the guide on sale Nov. 16.

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Andrew Huff

Interview Mon Nov 22 2010

One Last Word with Jean-Luc Naret

As of last Thursday, the Michelin Guide Chicago is officially out in bookstores everywhere. The soirees, the pranks, the dramas, the joys, and the critiques will all be quieting down soon, leaving Chicago with nothing left to focus on but the merits of the food under review itself.

Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin Guide, sat down and spoke with GB before heading off for one last fete around the world, as he has plans to step down from the organization at year's end.

How has the excitement and anticipation been in Chicago leading up to the launch?

Well, wonderful. I saw a lot of articles, a lot of speculation of food critics, journalists, and bloggers to try and find out who was going to be including in the Michelin Guide. It's always an interesting thing in a new city -- there's always a lot of speculation from chefs, a lot of anticipation from everyone to see who's going to get the stars, but not only that, but who's going to be included in the guide as well. And when we released the information, and I personally called the chefs -- it was interesting because some of them were recording the call, some of them were waiting for the call and put on the speakerphone with the team in the kitchen, which was a brilliant idea I thought. And all the responses have been the same somewhat -- very honored, very happy -- and of course, in the case of Grant (Achatz), very emotional, because it is something that happens just once in a lifetime.

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Ben Schulman

Michelin Guide Sat Nov 20 2010

Reflections on the Michelin Guide Chicago: Omissions & Geographical Oddities

Now that the Michelin Guide Chicago has made it into people's hands, probably one of the biggest surprises to those familiar with Chicago's dining scene is what's not in it. Hot Doug's, one of the city's most celebrated restaurants, is not in the book as a full listing -- it's relegated to a mention as a "Chicago Classic" in the introduction for the "Lakeview & Wrigleyville" section. Among other prominent absentees are Morton's, Katsu and Spoon Thai. While everyone will be disappointed to see one of their favorites overlooked (my beloved Tanoshii also didn't get a mention), these are restaurants that regularly appear on lists of the best in their genre -- in Hot Doug's case, even transcending genre -- and their absence is glaring.

Regarding the omission of Hot Doug's, Michelin Director Jean-Luc Naret said, "Well, hot dog stands are really stands. We only really do restaurants where you can sit down and enjoy food." So clearly, neither he nor the guide's inspectors have ever been to Hot Doug's, where you can quite easily sit and savor your meal. Considering the outcry from readers and journalists alike, you can bet it will be in the next edition.

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Andrew Huff

Feature Thu Nov 18 2010

State of the Plate 2010: Things are looking...up?

State of the Plate, Robert Kenner
The most important meal I've had this year was a box lunch from Sopraffina. No, it didn't earn a Michelin star or introduce me to sea urchin. Those are fun, exciting moments in eating this year that have been only subtly underscored by something much more serious, something which makes me uncomfortable and is much easier not to think about. So, like most people, I usually don't. But it was something that was staring me in the face in the form of a roast beef and provolone sandwich, nestled in a cardboard box resting on my knees during the lunch break at Wednesday's State of the Plate conference on sustainable meat production, the new (hopefully annual) forum put together by the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-Op: Where does our food come from, and what power can we possibly have over it?

It's not like these questions are groundbreaking in and of themselves. I've read The Omnivore's Dilemna and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I've skimmed through Fast Food Nation. I've seen clips of Food, Inc. CAFOs bad, local food good, organic labels confusing. It's frightening, and depressing. But there's something very different about encountering this information on my couch or in front of my TV in my spare time, and sitting in a room with people whose daily lives are very much affected by these issues. At State of the Plate, I was literally surrounded, with chefs and culinary students on one side, and sustainable ranchers and food scientists on the other. And through their words, in the form of several panels and a keynote from Robert Kenner, director of Food, Inc. it also seems that there may be a glimmer of hope in the dark night of American eating.

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Andie Cavedo / Comments (2)

Blog Tue Nov 16 2010

Michelin in Comparison

At last night's Michelin Guide pre-launch party at the Violet Hour, I remarked to Tammy Green of Chicago Bites that it would be great to see the Michelin-rated restaurants compared alongside ratings from other guides. Whether I just guessed their plan on inspired it, Chicago Bites delivered, producing a spreadsheet of Michelin, Yelp, Metromix, Urban Spoon and Zagat ratings for all the star and Bib Gourmand winners. Other than the large number of restaurants weren't in Zagat's guide, the only surprise might be how divisive deca is, rating a Bib from Michelin and four stars on Yelp, but only 1.4 stars on Metromix and a 50 percent rating on UrbanSpoon.

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

News Tue Nov 16 2010

The Stars Come Out Early for the Michelin Guide Chicago

michelinguidechicago.jpgThe Michelin Guide decided to announce the list of restaurants receiving stars in the premier Chicago guide this morning, a day earlier than expected, after a purported leaked list popped up on Yelp Monday. According to a Michelin spokesperson, the restaurants on that list were fielding dozens of calls from journalists and diners asking about the star awards. Rather than wait until Wednesday, Michelin Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret decided to move up the announcement by a day so that the chefs and restaurants wouldn't be hassled for an additional day without actually knowing whether the awards were true.

And as it turns out, the official list, below, is identical (except for more more accurate spellings) to the list leaked on Yelp by David "Primo" R. Here is the official list of Michelin star-rated restaurants in Chicago:

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Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

News Wed Nov 10 2010

Bib Gourmand Hungers for More

In just one week, Chicago will officially be entered into the elite group of Michelin Guide-crowned cities. As we here at GB HQ get ready to celebrate the guide's release, the famously discreet Michelin inspectors have graciously let some of their secrets slip by revealing their "Bib Gourmand" picks.

As the Michelin Man says himself, "The Bib Gourmand designation denotes good cuisine at a reasonable price in a variety of comfort categories. Defined as "Inspectors' Favorites for Good Value," Bib Gourmand restaurants offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included), and are often of most value to a city's residents, who regularly dine in neighborhood restaurants." They also cause the Michelin Man to adorably lick his chops in anticipation of a good meal.

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Ben Schulman

Event Wed Nov 10 2010

Next Week: Papers & Chefs

With the Michelin Guide Chicago's publication the talk of the town, both the New York Times and Chicago Tribune thought next week would be a good time for a live event with some of the city's most prominent chefs. They're booked on consecutive nights, so if you haven't gotten enough Michelin talk in print, you can fill your evenings with even more, live.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, the Tribune's "Chicago Live!" stage show at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., will revolve around food. Kevin Pang will interview Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret; chefs Paul Kahan, Stephanie Izard and Graham Elliot talk, no doubt, about the guide's picks in Chicago, and Hot Doug's Doug Sohn will discuss "the state of the hot dog" with Bill Daley. Tickets are $25 through TicketMaster or the Chicago Theatre box office.

Then on Friday, Nov. 18, the New York Times brings its TimesTalks series to the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St., where chefs Rick Bayless, Art Smith and Charlie Trotter talk with Frank Bruni and wine and food festival organizer Lee Brian Schrager. The Michelin Guide isn't explicitly a topic, but given its timeliness and Bayless' lackluster opinion of the guide, it's hard to imagine it won't be brought up. Tickets for this show are also $25.

Tickets to both shows will most likely sell out, so get yours soon.

Andrew Huff

News Wed Nov 10 2010

Bib Gourmand Winners Announced

lula.jpgThe Michelin Bib Gourmand award is given to restaurants that offer excellent food at equally excellent prices; this year's winners, which were announced today (along with the scarlet letter of a Michelin Man in chalk outlined in front of recipient restaurants), include a mix of standards (Lula, Frontera, M. Henry) and new(er) arrivals to the culinary scene (Purple Pig, Girl & the Goat, Ceres Table). The first-ever Michelin Guide to Chicago will be released next week. The full list of winners is after the jump.

(Pic from Lula's Facebook page.)

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Robyn Nisi

Event Mon Nov 08 2010

Join Us at a Michelin Guide Preview Party!

michelinguidechicago.jpgThe first Chicago edition of the famed Michelin Guide will make its debut next Wednesday, Nov. 17. Gapers Block Drive-Thru is joining with Explore Chicago, Eater Chicago, Metromix, Grub Street, and Chicago Bites to celebrate its release with a cocktail reception at the Violet Hour, 1520 N. Damen Ave.

On Monday, Nov. 15, from 6 to 8pm, we'll have the back two-thirds of the Violet Hour, where complementary food and drinks will be served. Jen-Luc Naret, head of Michelin Guide, will be on hand to answer any questions about the guide -- short of revealing which restaurants received stars, that is. There will also be a way for you to sign up to receive a free copy of the Chicago guide when it comes out.

Only 150 tickets will be available for this event, and entry will be first come, first served at the door. Get your tickets now! Update: tickets are sold out.

Andrew Huff

Event Tue Sep 28 2010

Michelin Teams Up with Thomas Keller To Build Buzz for Chicago Guide

thomaskeller.jpgRenowned chef, restaurateur and author Thomas Keller was in town last week to help demystify the Michelin guide, the respected directory to restaurants around the world, which will publish its first Chicago edition this November. Michelin announced in July that it would be coming to Chicago at a chic reception presided over by Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret and at which Mayor Daley spoke. Naret returned to Chicago on Friday for a private, informal Q & A at Kendall College with Chef Keller and Kendall School of Culinary Arts Dean Christopher Koetke to address the workings of the guide.

The three men spoke for an hour in front of an audience of about 75 people, mainly culinary students. Keller stole the show, with attendees most interested in hearing from the only American chef with two three-star restaurants, Per Se in New York City and The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California.

Long before he had any restaurants, Keller explained that he most wanted to emulate restaurants with three Michelin stars. These restaurants, he said, "have set the bar my entire life." The Michelin director calls each chef awarded stars to deliver the news the day before a guide launches, and Keller shared with candor and humor the stories of his first and second three-star calls.

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Sharon Bautista

Interview Fri Jul 23 2010

Interview with Michelin Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret

Jean-Luc Naret.jpgIt was only last week when the Michelin Man came to town announcing the publication of the Michelin Guide Chicago. He brought with him Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret, who I was lucky enough to sit down with and chat up shortly after the gala event.

Why Chicago? Why now?

That is a good, solid question to ask. We first looked at the city a few years ago and knew we wanted to come here because of the great chefs here. We knew that there was very good produce as well, using local ingredients, from Wisconsin, Michigan, everywhere else. There are a very good number of restaurants that deliver high-end cuisine, but at the same time, there are a very good number of restaurants that deliver great food at a very good, reasonable price. And that is exactly what the Michelin guide is all about. It's not only about finding the top chef, it is really about trying to find the best food in category of price and comfort.

And why now? Because personally I think we should have been here a bit before, but finally we came here two years ago and we're ready to announce.

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Ben Schulman

News Wed Jul 14 2010

Savor the Date: Michelin Guide Gala

php3JG5OLAM.jpgLast night, Chicago entered with distinction into the elite group of cities to have a Michelin Guide created in its honor. A crowd of well-dressed and enthusiastic supporters lined the walls of A New Leaf's event space at 1820 N. Wells in Old Town, to welcome the announcement of the Michelin Guide Chicago due out in November. On hand to formally dedicate the Guide was Mayor Richard M. Daley, Michelin Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret, Michelin COO Parmeet Grover, and none other than the Michelin Man himself.

Briefly addressing the audience, Daley spoke of his pride in the city's chefs, who he believes "are really artists who define our city and give opportunity so much to our city." Noting that the higher-profile chefs who have made Chicago a foodie's destination tend not only to be entrepreneurs but often committed charity donors as well, Daley praised the group as civic boosters in bringing Michelin to town. In all, it was "a wonderful day," Daley said, "for us to celebrate, not our past, but most important, our future."

Mayor Daley speaking at Chicago Michelin Guide announcement gala

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Ben Schulman / Comments (1)

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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...
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