Chicago, Monday, July 25, 2011. The First Annual SMC Awards for The Green City Market Chefs BBQ's annual summer soiree and benefit in Lincoln Park have been announced. Please note that this is an unscientific survey. Feel free to agree, disagree or add your input.
Although the temperature was sizzling on Thursday in Chicago with the official high 99.1, the crowd at Lincoln Park's Green City Market Chef's BBQ cooled off in the fabulous Lincoln Park setting picnicking on blankets under the green leafy trees, chilling out at tables and catching a breeze from the lake and fans in a cooling area. Nearly 100 of Chicago's top chefs and mixologists were grilling, mixing and mingling with the over 2000 guests in attendance. With that many chefs, it was impossible to personally sample everything so the results of this poll were garnered by personal sampling, observations and input from other guests.
Chef with the Longest Line: Whether it's his fame or his food Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco and Frontera Fresco's Rick Bayless had them standing in line all evening as he manned his booth that rewarded those who waited with Grilled Tatume Squash, Poblano Cream, Spicy Serrano Salsa, and Cilantro on a homemade tortilla.
Friendliest Chef. All the chef's and mixologists were great to talk to but Ina Pinkney gets the SMC award for friendiest chef. Chicago's "Breakfast Queen" remained front and center as she hustled the crowd to try her (and Barry Sorkin's) special Green City creation that would not be available at her restaurant. So even though I thought I couldn't eat another bite, I sampled the Smoked NY-Style Pastrami, Dry Cured with Spicy Mustard and Maple Slaw on Rye Bread and OMG--I'm so glad I found a spot for it.
Most ambitious. This was a difficult decision but roasting a whole pig on a spit in the middle of crowded Lincoln Park with the temperature flirting with 100 degrees had to count for something so Chef Dean Zanella and Daniel Romero from Rhapsody got this one. Their creation: Spit Roasted Pig "Porchetta Style", Paninis, Roasted Garlic, Pickled Fennel and Wild Arugula--definitely worth the effort.
Best Food on a Stick. Simple but delish, NoMI Chef Ryan LaRoche's Sweet Corn Elotes with what tasted to be just picked roasted sweet corn, with Cotija cheese, Mexican spices and fresh lime was a very special treat.
Most Creative Pairing goes to Chef Chris Pandel of The Bristol with his Cheeseburger paired with Goose Island's "A Beer named Sue"--a can't miss combo.
Something extra. GT Fish & Oyster wins this one with their $20 gift certificates served up with Chef Giuseppe Tentori's Grilled Wisconsin Ivory Arctic Char, Sweet Corn Polenta, Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette paired with Goose Island's Squid Ink.
Best Non-Restaurant. Sunday Dinner, an "Underground Dining Club", gets the award for the Best Non-Restaurant. The club meets in various locales around the city and also offers catering and private parties. Founders and chefs Joshua Kulp and Christine Cikowski served Fresh Ground Beef Burger, Angel Food Cheese, and a Bacon and Sweet Pickle Remoulade for this occasion.
Best Hot Weather Treat. Rick Gresh from David Burke's Primehouse created Liqoursicles which must have been good as they were all out when we stopped by at 7:15p.m.
Best Vegetarian Offering. Vegetarians were not left out in the cold at this year's benefit with 23 spots catering to this growing segment. SMC's choice for the Best Veretarian offering is Chef Martial Noguler from Chicago Gold Coast's new French bistro, Bistronomic. Noguier, a Paris native, created a delectable, yet simple, English Pea Veloute with Goat Cheese and Truffle Oil.
Biggest Portion. Pamela Fitzpatrick from Fox & Obel takes the cake for her generous-sized and yummy Deconstructed Blueberry Pie featuring Prairie Fruit Farms, Seedling Farm.
Best Icy Innovation. There were a number of icy treats that hit the spot--and how they keep them icy through four hours was a feat unto itself. The SMC award goes to the Ritz Carlton's Mark Payne, Chuck Kazmer and Eric Estrella for their Hand Shaved Ice Snowcone with Farmer Berry and Fruit Flavored Syrups--perfect for a hot summer evening.
Rising Star. Old Town Social chef Jared Van Camp proved himself worthy of the buzz with his oh so awesome Grilled Lamb Ribs with Potato and Feta Salad combo paired with Goose Island's Sofie.
Best One Stop Dining. Anyone pressed for time or heat-challenged could pretty much get a full-course meal with Four Seasons Chef Kevin Hickey and Scott Gerken's: Bratwurst with Sofie Beer Mustard and Sauerkraut on a Pretzel Bun; the best Potato Chips you'll ever have with Wisconsin Cheddar Sauce and a Bacos Caprese Sundae: Buffalo Milk Panna Cotta, Heirloom Tomato Sorbet, Basil Syrup Chantilly and Watermelon Mojitos.
Most Fun Creation. Bryce Caron from Custom House Tavern created a crowd-pleaser with his Raspberry Cotton Candy.
Best Cocktail. Ben Schiller, the resident mixologist for the Boka Restaurant Group put together an SMC winner with his original "Frozen Peaches" cocktail featuring peach puree, fresh lemon juice, mint and Templeton Rye Whiskey--shaken, strained and served over crushed ice.
Filed under: The Best of Show Me Chicago