Where did “The Budlong Hot Chicken” come from? 

Where did “The Budlong Hot Chicken” come from? 

The inspiration behind The Budlong Hot Chicken started waaaaay back in 2014. I was visiting Nashville to attend a BBQ conference on behalf of my other restaurant, BBQ Supply Co. in Rogers Park. As I do in all of my travels, I queried the locals as to where I needed to eat while in town. Nashvillians are very friendly, easy to talk to and they really love their city. I was offered many different suggestions, ranging from fancy farm-to-table dining at Husk, all the way to patty melts at the Hermitage Café. One Nashville-specific recommendation was on everyone’s list: Hot Chicken. At the time, this dish was little known outside of the music city and, admittedly, I had never heard of it, but had to go try it. 

My first hot chicken experience was at the newcomer in town, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. This spot was HOT. Located just down the street from Pepperdine University, this restaurant was clearly a tourist and local favorite. The line stretched out the door and the wait was over an hour long, leaving a long time for me to wonder, “Could it be that good?” I hate lines, but waited anyways because I HAD to try this local favorite. It was worth the wait and did not disappoint. The customer service was top notch, the cashier coached us on the varying heat levels, and the food came out piping hot in about 20 minutes. My first bite could only be ruled as deliciously spicy. It was unlike any fried chicken I’d ever had. I tasted the crunchy crust first, followed by the juicy chicken. Both winners. The heat came in at the very end and grew stronger with each bite. It was an incredible experience and I was immediately hooked.

After Hattie B’s, I visited Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (the original), followed by Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish (started by a former Prince’s employee) and neither spot disappointed. Prince’s was the clear winner for me, as their chicken had this old-school feel to it that was full of character. Each spot had its own unique flavor, but all with a common theme: slow burn, crunchy and juicy fried chicken. I knew Chicago needed this. 

I returned home from Nashville and immediately began my research and development into cooking hot chicken. First and foremost, the dish starts with juicy fried chicken. Similar to BBQ, fried chicken is simple, old-fashioned comfort food, leading one to believe it’s easy to make. However, just like BBQ, it has a depth and technique that can only be mastered through trial and error. I hosted many different chicken labs, inviting chefs, family and friends to fried chicken tastings, taking notes on their thoughts along the way. I literally cooked and ate fried chicken for 60 days straight. Every. Single. Day. 

The research to create the perfect hot chicken was intense. I tried everything to find a method that I liked, from using wet batter, to dry flour, different seasonings and oils, varying temperatures, deep frying vs. pan frying, dry brine vs. wet brine, different cuts of chicken and more until we finally stumbled upon a technique that really blew our minds and taste buds. 

After the fried chicken was perfected, we began to work on the “hot” flavor. All Nashville Hot Chicken is traditionally made “hot” with cayenne pepper bloomed in oil. From there, you then decide what other spices to add and if you want a wet or dry“hot”. I tried about 25 different ways to make the chicken hot, including making a few more pilgrimages to Nashville to take notes about what I liked and didn’t like in the various versions. 

After about a full year of research and development, I made what I considered the best hot chicken I’d ever had. Along the way, I signed a lease on a store in Lincoln Square, where I live with my family, to begin sharing my delicious discovery. However, we still needed a name for this vehicle of hot chicken goodness.

The name of the restaurant is an ode to The Budlong family farm, founded by Lyman and Joseph Budlong in 1857 on roughly 500 acres of sandy-soil. The land is now modern-day Lincoln Square. The sandy soil was the perfect environment for growing root vegetables, such as cucumbers and beets, and became the main product of the family farm. The family also had a pickle company, The Budlong Pickle Co., and sold jars of pickled vegetables from the farm. How does this family and their pickles relate to our fried chicken, you ask? Along with classic white bread, every order of Nashville Hot Chicken is served with a few slices of heat-softening pickles, much like those sold on The Budlong farm. Hence, The Budlong Hot Chicken was born, and will forever be.

Written by Jared Leonard

Black Dog Gelato : Sweet fun in the Summer

April showers bring May flowers, but most importantly, a glimpse of the sweet Chicago summer to come. Summer is Chicago’s favorite season and a big deal for us at Black Dog Gelato. It’s when we do 80% of our business!  

In anticipation for summer, we are hard at work hiring more seasonal staff and developing new flavors to make sure we are all set to keep you cool throughout the season. We are just as excited as you are! While we all wait patiently for the sun to come out and the temperature to rise, here are some fun statistics about Black Dog Gelato to tide you over:

  • 10,000 spoons are used in a week in the summer  
  • 700 gallons of gelato are made during an average summer week
  • 100 - number of summer weddings Black Dog Gelato caters 
  • 75 rotating flavors are offered throughout the year 
  • 7 days a week, our original location on Damen Ave. is open for business in the summer
  • 6 a.m. - the time the kitchen starts making the gelato for the day
  • 5 summer festivals where you can snag our gelato
  • 5 pm- the time that the 2-for-1 Cones special starts each day for Gelato Happy Hour at our Revival Food Hall location
  • 3 flavors that were suggested by guests to Chef Jessie and ended up on the menu: Nutella Pretzel, Basil Coffee and Butterscotch Bourbon Pecan

Smoque BBQ: The Sweet Mystery of Brisket

 The Smoque BBQ outlet at the Revival Food Hall offers a small menu with four different proteins and 3 sides. If you look at what we sell on any given day, we sell more brisket than anything else. To us, it’s not really all that surprising. Brisket is what we’re known for and we have smoked millions of pounds of the stuff in the ten years since Smoque first opened on the Northwest side. 

Brisket at Smoque was introduced to diversify a pork-centric menu, and we didn’t expect to sell that much of it. In a town known for baby back ribs, hot-smoked rib tips and spicy link sausage, the brisket quickly became a runaway best seller at our restaurant. Around the time that we added brisket to the menu, America’s love affair with the meat really began to take off and Smoque was fortunate to catch a ride on the rising wave. 

What is the appeal of this cut of meat that has taken America by storm? Well, for one thing, it just tastes good! Pork BBQ is often thought of as a blank canvas onto which the pit master can paint a wide range of flavors. You will find BBQ masters and restaurant pros brining, injecting, rubbing, spraying, mopping and saucing pork to derive a deep flavor. However, injecting a brisket is really gilding the lily. The key to a good brisket is to season it, put it in the smoker, and then get out of the way. It can be best compared to a gemstone, where by careful cutting and faceting, you bring out the inherent brilliance that lies within. At Smoque, we of course serve sauce with our brisket, but always on the side as an accent, not the main event.

Smoking a good brisket is seen as a special challenge in the world of BBQ. America has developed an obsession with smoking, and brisket is to the amateur smoker what Mt. Everest is to the first-time climber. It’s the ultimate challenge and the most unforgiving thing to try to smoke. Hobbyist smokers can generally take a pork shoulder or a slab of ribs, smoke it, and arrive at something edible and even tasty. However, a botched attempt at brisket can yield something that, while physically safe to consume, is basically inedible. 

I often get requests from enthusiasts and hobbyists for advice. Even in experienced hands, brisket just doesn’t lend itself to standardization. At every step, it demands expert judgment and a level of artisanship and attention to detail that can’t be operationalized. A raw brisket is covered in a thick, hard layer of fat. It needs to be pared down before it is rubbed and smoked. If you leave on too much fat, no one will want to eat it. Leave too little fat, and you risk exposing the lean meat underneath and drying it out. There is no way to look at an individual brisket and tell how deep the fat layer is. It takes time and hands-on experience trimming lots of briskets to find the perfect balance. 

Learning how to smoke a brisket is just as difficult as the initial prep work. I’ve often seen on menus things like, “Try our thirteen-hour smoked brisket.” When I see that, I hope it is a guideline rather than a rule. There is really only one correct answer to the question, “How long do you smoke a brisket?” The answer is: “Until it’s done.” A general number of hours and a temperature gauge are an excellent starting point, but the only way to really know if a brisket it done is to feel it. There’s a certain soft, but not too soft, semi-gelatinous bounce that the meat has when it’s ready to come out.

Even when it’s wrapped and ready to serve, a brisket will present challenges that require a skilled hand. A cut of meat comprises two major muscles overlying each other, each with a strong grain running in divergent directions. Slicing it is something of an art and every BBQ joint has its own approach. Even for our chopped brisket, which looks like an undifferentiated mass of meat shreds, there is more to it than meets the eye. A good chopped brisket is a blend of fatty and lean pieces, as well as outer bark and interior pieces to give the best balance of flavor and texture.  

Ultimately, brisket is one of those things that will reward you for the care that you put into it. Even after ten years, we are still learning and trying to improve our process and product. In fact, some of the practices we instituted for doing brisket at Revival Food Hall have served us so well, that we put them into effect at the original location. 

One of my favorite things about Smoque at Revival Food Hall is how brisket takes the pride of place in our operation. When you wait in line for lunch, you can watch as each brisket is unwrapped and flopped on the cutting board with the steam rising and juices running as it’s cut. Customers engaged in conversation while in line will often fall silent as they approach the cutting station with all eyes turning to the barky, juicy brisket sitting on the cutting board. The mere sight of the prior order being made is enough to convince the next person in line to order the same thing. “The stuff really sells itself,” as I often tell my crew. 

Danke: Flour Power

Handmade bread is the cornerstone of Danke’s menu. It is the base for our handcrafted sandwiches and the perfect accompaniment for our customizable charcuterie and cheese plates. Our skilled team begins each day by taking dough that fermented overnight, and form into rustic baguettes that are then baked in a hot stone deck oven. These crusty loaves are made in the traditional European way, using a natural starter culture that acts as a leavening agent, as well as a long fermentation period that adds layers of flavor. We pride ourselves on being one of only a handful of restaurants in Chicago that produce this style of bread.

In most of Europe, freshly baked bread is a pillar of local culture and cuisine. However, in America, and especially Chicago, it is often an afterthought and rarely eaten fresh. Even though sandwiches are arguably the most American of all foods, the bread that holds them together is usually generic and almost never baked on-site daily.

When I opened Table, Donkey and Stick in 2012, I was inspired by the European traditions of baking and charcuterie. I hoped the restaurant would truly show our guests how delicious something as humble as bread and salami can be when made without using any shortcuts. Although Danke’s format is very different than Table, Donkey and Stick, we are driven by that same spirit. Our house baguettes, and the sandwiches made from them, have received rave reviews in the Chicago TribuneChicago Reader, and other publications. Come try one for yourself!

Meet The Vendors: Curbside Books & Records

Customers frequently ask me why we opened a book and record store in a food hall. It’s a fair question, but if you think about it in terms of the artisanal spirit of craft, it makes sense. We meticulously choose our materials the same way the food vendors at Revival Food Hall carefully select ingredients to craft their menus.

Our books come from small presses and local publishers, and we work very closely with Chicago musicians and independent record labels to present a unique selection of records. We hand pick every book and record based on what we love to read and listen to ourselves and the overall quality of each individual piece.  It’s exciting that we can get these works into the hands of people who love them just as much as we do.

We want to be a haven in the chaos of the Loop. Grab some coffee from the Revival Café Bar and listen to our featured album spinning on the record player or browse through our selection of literary magazines. Chat with us about your favorite author or recording artist, or simply ask for recommendations.

We have the opportunity to talk about books and music all day amongst the great selection of food vendors, and aside from the daily difficulties of deciding what to eat, we feel right at home in Revival Food Hall.

Meet The Vendors: Revival Café Bar

There is a theory in Human Evolution that claims that coffee had a direct impact on the mental development of early man. While we may never know if that’s true or not, we do know that coffee has had a very serious and clear impact on human civilization time and time again. One of the earliest coffee houses in London, called Lloyd’s of London, was located just near the docks. Merchant marines, ship owners, and purchasers would loiter here, drinking coffee and playing games while they waited for their ships to come in.

The owners of the coffee house started taking bets on which ships would return and which ones wouldn’t. Over time, the owners of the ships got smart and started betting that their ships wouldn’t return, making them some money either way. Thus, the world's first and largest insurance firm was born, and Lloyd’s of London stopped slinging coffee to focus on the betting game. 

Lloyd’s of London is just one example of the transformative effect that coffee has had over the course of history. When tracing the path that coffee has taken throughout Europe, one can see great accomplishments in the arts, sciences, and political spheres, especially in dense, urban populations.

Today, a lot of us take the affects of coffee for granted. It has simply become a necessity to start the day. However, there was a time when it was new and novel. Imagine trying coffee for the first time when you are 30 or 40 years old, feeling the fog lift from your brain that you didn’t know was even there once the coffee takes hold. This sensation catapulted people into deeper thinking and talking in ways they never had before, generating new ideas and innovations. They would gather in a coffee house, get “coffee drunk”, and work out problems. Whether you gather with coffee at home or at coffee house, the caffeinated beverage has become a central component to socializing in many parts of the world.

In Chicago, we have the privilege of witnessing a coffee renaissance. The joy that people get from this simple seed continues to spark scrutiny and innovation. As science advances, so does coffee as farming and harvesting continues to improve, as well as new developments in roasting techniques and extraction theory. Baristas geek out about these new ideas, such as the cultivation of an Ethiopia genetic in Guatemala soil or the various levels of Honey processing. In the end though, we all just want to make a great cup of coffee.

Beyond all the stories, science, myths and methods, the great equalizer is the feeling you get when you take that first sip of a great cup of coffee. It takes care, a spirit of giving and sharing, as well as openness for inspiration.

Meet The Vendors: Graze Kitchenette

At Graze Kitchenette, we consider ourselves to be a contemporary “diner” within Revival Food Hall. We take pride in serving delicious grass-fed cheeseburgers, as well as an array of sandwiches with a chef-driven twist. Instead of a traditional milkshake to accompany your burger, we offer several types of healthy, plant-based smoothie bowls. They are best described as having a thick, sorbet-like texture and consistency. Made with all natural ingredients, our Damn Good Bowls are topped with a variety of fresh fruit and raw superfoods. They serve as a great healthy alternative for breakfast, lunch or a sweet afternoon treat.

The most popular bowl at Graze is the traditional Acai. The acai berry is a reddish-purple fruit native to Central and South America, derived from the acai palm tree. Studies have shown that it is richer in antioxidants than most other berries and contains high amounts of nutritious fiber and heart-healthy fats. Our Damn Good Acai Bowl is packed with blueberries, banana, raspberries, granola, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, and hemp seeds. All of the bowls at Graze, including the Acai, Avocado Matcha, and Banana Cashew are rich in protein, 100% vegan, and 100% gluten-free. These healthy and satiating treats are not only colorful and appealing to the eyes, but they taste #DamnGood and are the perfect complement to our menu!

Cheers!

Sarah Jordan

Meet The Vendors: The Fat Shallot

Now one of Chicago’s favorite food trucks for gourmet sandwiches, The Fat Shallot came to life from co-owners and married couple Sam Barron and Sarah Weitz. The pair was simply seeking a way to balance married life with their busy schedules in the culinary world. In 2013, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance allowing for food trucks to cook fresh, made-to-order food on-the-go. With timing on their side, the couple received one of the first on-board cooking licenses granted to a food truck in Chicago. Their vision began with a desire to offer customers unique versions of classic sandwiches with gourmet flair. Thus, The Fat Shallot was born.

Before becoming the couple known for selling delicious sandwiches from a big red food truck, Sam and Sarah bonded over all things delicious. Their first conversation even revolved around the importance of butter. Sam was at the end of a three-year stint at Chicago’s four-star restaurant, Everest, when the two decided to take a chance and move to San Sebastian, Spain. When they weren’t indulging in Spanish tapas, wine and immersing themselves in the culture, Sam continued to hone his skills working at a three- starred Michelin restaurant under legendary chef, Martin Berasategui.

A love of street food was kindled when Sam and Sarah spent the next year together traveling through India and Asia. During this time, they gained an understanding of the importance of taking pride in simple, humble food.

Upon their return to the U.S., Sam and Sarah settled on New Orleans as their next home. They spent a year living in the Crescent City, where Sam cooked professionally at Bayona with acclaimed chef Susan Spicer. During this time, the two developed an appreciation for the food and culture of New Orleans, which still inspires them in their cooking today.

They then moved to Chicago in 2011 where Sam worked as sous chef alongside Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the re-opened Pump Room. After 18 months of hard work and long hours, Sam and Sarah decided the timing was right to be their own bosses and opened The Fat Shallot food truck in May 2013.

From day one, the goal of The Fat Shallot was to offer recognizable sandwiches and sides that people would crave on a daily basis. The focus on sandwiches has created a wide canvas for creating delicious and memorable offerings, while still allowing Sam the room to integrate his culinary chops. The Fat Shallot strives to reintroduce people to some of their favorite lunch items and remind them why the classics are “The Classics”. After all, bacon, lettuce and tomato taste really great together!

Besides adding two children to the mix, Sam and Sarah opened a second food truck, The Fat Pickle, as well as their first brick and mortar outpost at Revival Food Hall in 2016. Having a stationary space has allowed the team to branch out and offer new items that are not available on the food trucks. They are also beyond thrilled to have a restroom and air conditioning on the premises at Revival!

Today Sarah and Sam have an amazing crew helping them operate both food trucks and the stall at Revival. Jacob, Nick, Gabe, Dave, Nate, Jeff, Courtney, Isaac and Gerald all work tirelessly to make amazing sandwiches and help foster the fun and lively atmosphere that they all treasure.

Come to Revival and find The Fat Shallot by the Adams Street entrance on your next lunch. Try the Truffle BLT, Turkey, Grilled Cheese, Duck PB&J and rediscover why sandwiches rule!

Meet The Vendors: Farmer's Fridge

You may already be familiar with the Farmer’s Fridge stall at Revival Food Hall, but did you know that we also operate our fresh vending Fridges in over 50 locations across the city of Chicago? You’re probably close to one right now! Known for our colorful, healthy salads and creamy avocado toast, we’re on a mission to make wholesome, balanced meals that are readily available to everyone with the help of our smart touchscreen-enabled Fridges. Our outstanding delivery team works overnight to keep the Fridges stocked with the freshest salads, meals, and snacks, all prepared in-house by our talented kitchen crew in our Fulton Market kitchen.

The Revival location of Farmer’s Fridge is the one-and-only “brick and mortar” location. It has given us the great opportunity to be face-to-face with our customers, something that is hard to do at the automated Fridges. It is also a test kitchen for our culinary team. Our Culinary Director, Jesse Szewczyk, uses the Revival location to test new flavors and dishes, as well as gather customer feedback. The best offerings stay on the menu, and sometimes even end up in the jars in our Fridges. 

One of our most recent recipe testing successes is the Kale Caesar Salad. The salad was on the original Revival Food Hall opening menu back in August. When it was “retired” to make space for a new menu item, our customers vehemently requested its return. We love hearing our customer’s feedback, so we listened, updated the Kale Caesar Salad and reintroduced on the menu. Due to such positive feedback at Revival, the Kale Caesar will soon be making its jar debut in Fridges all over Chicagoland.

Not sure where to find the closest Fridge? Click here!

In the meantime, stop in and see us at Revival to get your Kale Caesar fix, and to see what other new things we’re cooking up. We’d love to hear your input!

Meet The Vendors: Brown Bag Seafood Co

How to grow responsibly 101.

Brown Bag Seafood Co. at Revival Food Hall is our second location to pop up since we first opened doors in Chicago’s New East Side neighborhood. Like any new opening, this was a very exciting process. From start to finish, we were thrilled and inspired to be surrounded by so many innovative food and dining concepts at Revival Food Hall.

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With that said, what does one do when they are excited? Typically, they move swiftly, which often means they aren’t fully analyzing every move they make. For instance, we decided to create a new take on our top-selling “Powerbox.” On top of the original Powerbox build of ancient grains and spinach, we added a layer of sautéed veggies. At the time, I thought I was taking the most popular item from our original menu and making it even more appealing. As I found out in our 4th month of operation, I should’ve thought this through more thoroughly, as the original Powerbox continues to be our #1 seller at Revival Food Hall, while the “new and improved” Powerbox lags behind the rest.

After the hectic first 90 days of a new opening, most restaurant operators find the time to analyze the business. In our case, I looked at the performance of our first location, compared with the second, and something was notably different. I ran through all common factors. Did the dishwasher on staff for only two weeks steal in September?  Is my staff not trained properly? Are my vendors jabbing me with crazy new pricing? No. No. No. So, what was it?!

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After diving deep into all possibilities, we realized that the little willy nilly decision to toss on sautéed veggies is what killed us. We are now in the process of bridging the gap to create a consistent definition of the “Powerbox” at both of our Brown Bag Seafood Co. locations. The same will hold true for our 3rd restaurant opening in Roscoe Village this summer.  So, the lesson here is, repeat what works and experiment responsibly!

-Donna Lee

Founder, Brown Bag Seafood Co.

Meet The Vendors: Black Dog Gelato

With Chicago winter in full swing, it might not seem like peak gelato season, but at Black Dog Gelato, we respectfully disagree. Fact: gelato is delicious all year long! Not to mention, a real Chicagoan can’t be stopped by a little cold or snow.

Photo by Artisian Events

Photo by Artisian Events

Our catering team at Black Dog stays especially busy during the winter months, particularly for weddings and special events. Black Dog Gelato creates something a little more personalized and Chicago-centric than the everyday wedding cake. There’s definitely something unique and fun about hitting the dance floor with a cone of Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel gelato, or toasting to the bride and groom with a Root Beer float. 

One of our favorite and most beloved Black Dog Gelato wedding traditions is to offer a “first scoop” instead of a first bite of cake. It’s always a thrill for us to be a part of someone’s big day, and we love the opportunity to customize a special event experience for our regulars and newcomers alike.

Photo by Artisian Events

Photo by Artisian Events

Black Dog Gelato offers our award-winning gelato to be catered for everything from weddings, special events and corporate functions. Whether it’s a drop off with one of our custom gelato pushcarts, or fully staffed service on-site, we provide a wide range of services to make each event as clever and unique as our flavors.

 

Meet The Vendors: Mindy's HotChocolate Bakery

HotChocolate Bakery at Revival Food Hall wouldn’t be what it is without the hard-working, knowledgeable, and service-driven staff. We take pride in our employees as much as we take pride in our products, which is why we are dedicating this post to one of our front-of-house managers: Priscilla Connelly.

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 In addition to working at the bakery, Connelly has her own line of beautiful, handmade jewelry. Inspired by her grandmother, who also made jewelry, Connelly took up the craft at the young age of 8 years old. Using almost all recycled or second-hand materials, she focuses on giving her pieces a uniquely vintage look. Her custom creations include earrings, bracelets, and necklaces and that she handpicks every bead and piece of metal used, so you know they are made with love!

Connelly’s hand-crafted jewelry can be purchased through her Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shops/prisconnjewelry) or by sending her an e-mail at priscillaconnelyjewelry@gmail.com.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, these one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry make the perfect gift for your hunny, along with some special treats the bakery to curb your sweet tooth! Valentine’ Day inspired goodies include mini cakes & pies, packaged truffles & chocolates, and heart-shaped cookies that will available starting February 9th! #xoMindy 

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @hotchocolatebakery !

Meet The Vendors: Antique Taco Chiquito

The Chef

Rick Ortiz - At Antique Taco Chiquito, we blend the freshest ingredients available from the Midwest with my Mexican heritage. The menu reflects my mix of culinary experiences, culminating from every kitchen I have worked in, my education from Kendall College and my travels abroad.

As a chef, you always dream of opening a restaurant. I never imagined I would have my own restaurant inspired by all the things that I love most; meaningful food, antiques and the opportunity to work alongside my creative wife and an extremely dedicated team.

The story of Antique Taco comes with many drafts, but the goal has always been the same, to create delicious, thoughtful food.

The Creative Director

Ashley Ortiz - Antique Taco is a combination of everything we love: flavorful food, antique style, and the comfort of home.

When envisioning the design Antique Taco, I knew incorporating antique touches in the restaurant was a must. Our vintage neon sign gives more than just an instant wow factor; it tells a story. The history behind each antique piece can often be the best part.

Having been an event planner for the past seven years, I consider every meal a true celebration. Each interior detail is carefully thought out, reviewed and then simplified. It is the detail that people remember but also the simplicity.

The story of Antique Taco is a simple one, find what you love and do it with passion!

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The CEO

Scout Ortiz - While my parents handle day-to-day responsibilities at Antique Taco, I step in frequently to provide love & laughter.

Meet The Vendors: Harvest Juicery

Harvest JUICERY’s inception was Kristina Sciarra’s brainchild after spending time working in both the restaurant and wellness industries. After seeing her own health benefits from juicing, Kristina’s passion drove her to blend the two. Eventually, transforming an idea into the “modern-day milkman”, delivering cold-pressed juices around Chicago and in her own storefronts.

HJ’s chef-driven recipes create juices, nut milks, smoothies, avocado toasts and seasonal bowls through organic or ‘hand-picked’ partnerships with local farms; integrating fresh herbs, spices, and 2-3 pounds of fruits and vegetables in each 16-ounce bottle. The end result: delicious, nutrient-dense food and drink.

HJ is excited to be able to spread the cold pressed love throughout downtown via Revival Food Hall with our Juices and Smoothies in addition to our original storefront in the West Loop.

We are making healthy taste good and having fun doing it!

Drink Up. Live Well.

Cheers!

Meet The Vendors: Aloha Poke

Kanoa and The Grandmother

Working in a food hall has its challenges, but one thing that stays constant is the overall consensus that ‘food is life’.  As cooks, managers, servers, baristas or personnel, we hold a high standard for food in all of its capacities, as well as to make sure that the customer is fully taken care of.  We consistently strive to create the ‘next level’ dish and know that taste is most important.  In making sure that customer service comes first, we are left to the finer details in the back of the house, ensuring that no matter what ingredients we’re using, they always taste delicious.  A happy customer is a repeat customer.

Please enjoy reading my story, as these are the things that I hold dear to my heart.  A young kid in search of a passion is something special, and as adults, we sometimes forget how simple that idea really is.

See you soon,

Noah Feldman

 

He’d always wanted to learn how to cook.  Most of the boys in his school were interested in video games or girls, but not for Kanoa.  He was more interested in figuring out the complexities of sauce, the equal distribution of salt and pepper into a vegetable medley, or what it meant to ‘chiffonade’ herbs.

On his way home from school, Kanoa would steal a pineapple from one of the neighboring farms and bring it home to his grandmother.  The smells wafting from the kitchen were intoxicating; sage leaves soaked in butter and brown sugar, flaking puff pastry, cinnamon and sweet potatoes.  These were the things that Kanoa most looked forward to.

As he walked inside, he noticed that his grandmother was chopping garlic.  Without turning around, she asked him a very familiar question.

“Do you have it?”

Kanoa pulled his book bag off his shoulder, reached into the larger pocket and pulled out the pineapple.  He handed it to her gently.

“Here it is” he said with a grin from ear to ear.

She took a deep breath and smelled the pineapple.  After exhaling, she took comfort in knowing that its ripeness was spot on.  She could smell the sugars developing as the aroma was thick from the outer shell...just one of her ways to test that the pineapple was ready.  Just to be certain, she grabbed one of the leaves from the top of the fruit and plucked it, coming out as easy as water from a faucet.

“Easy peasy” said the grandmother.

What was about to happen in the kitchen was what Kanoa thought was magic.  A combination of flavors and ingredients all coming together to create something as divine as a sunset on a warm summer day.  And it wasn’t just the physical things.  Kanoa would watch his grandmother and her processes; each stage specifically designed to craft and wield into the next, setting off a chain reaction like dominos crashing into one another.

“Chop, slice, cut.  Pinch the blade of the knife with your thumb and index finger like this” she said as she showed him how to correctly hold the instrument.  “Cut forward, not back.  Tuck your fingers and thumb in on your non-cutting hand so that you don’t chop them...OFF!”

Kanoa pulled his fingers back just in time before the blade took his hand off.

“Always be aware.  And focused.  You could end up in the hospital if you’re not careful” she repeated often.

“You have multiple things going on in the kitchen at once.  Potatoes boiling, oven preheating, chopping vegetables, timers.  Organize yourself.  Give yourself enough time to make sure that if you make a mistake, it can be fixed.  Don’t assume.  Know.”

Kanoa had a difficult time taking it all in but knew that if he repeated her processes, over time, they would come to him naturally.  He observed.  That’s what he was good at.

His grandmother had finished cutting the sweet potatoes and put them into the pot of boiling water.  Once done chopping garlic, she moved it to the side of the cutting board.  Her herbs and spices had been put in proper containers so that they were ready to be distributed proportionately.

“This is the time where we wait until the potatoes are cooked.  Let’s sit down”.

Kanoa and his grandmother sat down at the kitchen table, which was lined with a red and white checkerboard tablecloth.  In the middle of the table was a Lazy Susan containing typical condiments: ketchup, salt/pepper, a tchotchke doll from a recent vacation and hot sauce.  Adjacent to the table were black and white photographs of Kanoa’s parents.  He missed them dearly.

“How was school today?” she asked.

“Fine”  he replied.

“What did you learn?” she wondered.

“Nothing” he responded.

This was typical table chit chat.  Often times, the grandmother became upset but never expressed it externally.  She usually brushed off Kanoa’s subtleness with a loud sigh and proceeded to the more important questions...the questions that she knew she would get an accurate response from.

“How do the pineapples grow?” she asked already knowing the answer but to see if Kanoa was paying attention.

“Pineapples grow to be between 1 and 1.5m tall.  The plant has a short, stocky stem with tough, waxy leaves,” he responded.

“Go on” she insisted.

“Once the plant flowers, the fruit is called a pineapple”.

“And what are the uses of a pineapple?” she asked for more.

“In some cultures, the pineapple is sold on roadsides as a snack.  Chunks of pineapple are used in desserts and savory dishes such as pizza, grilled rings for hamburgers or fruit salads.  Crushed pineapple is used in yogurts, jams and sweets.  And pineapple juice for drinks such as a pina colada” he answered.

“Very good.  Up we go”.

The grandmother turned off the stove.  Kanoa grabbed a strainer from the cabinet and placed it into the sink.  When finished, he took the potatoes and dumped the pot into the strainer, catching the cooked pieces.  He put the pot back on the stove and added the garlic that was chopped before.  The tiny pieces began to sizzle as the pot was still at a high temperature.  Kanoa shook the remaining water off of the potatoes and dumped them back into the pot adding some cream and butter.  The grandmother handed him the potato masher and, with a grin, told him to go for it.

He mashed up the potatoes well until they were smooth.  While stirring, he added the correct amount of salt, pepper, cinnamon and sage to the mixture.  The grandmother began cutting the pineapple, first the shell and then again over the eyelets so that it was flush all around.  Cutting around the stem, she sliced lengthwise into long pieces and then into tiny cubes.  Once finished, she poured the juice into a glass (Kanoa’s favorite) and disposed of the rubbish into the container.

The grandmother laid out the pieces of puff pastry into 6x6 inch squares.  Once finished, Kanoa placed a large spoonful of the potato mixture in the middle of each square, then polished the top with a couple of tiny pineapple chunks.  Another small dash of cinnamon was dusted on top before they began using the egg wash on the sides of the pastry.  Once complete, Kanoa folded one side over and then the other, creating a puff pastry pocket.  In Hispanic cultures, they called this an empanada.  Or in Asian cultures, a dumpling.  It was his favorite snack not just because he loved the taste, but because he was able to spend time with the grandmother; a person he looked up to, a teacher and most important, family.

After all of the squares were folded over, they placed them into the oven on a baking sheet at 425 degrees.

“Now we wait 30 minutes” she said.

Kanoa and the grandmother walked into the living room.  It was tiny, with a rather beaten up cloth reclining chair and love seat.  Above the TV hung Kanoa’s fathers surf board, an old Arrow longboard fluorescent blue in color.  Pictures lined the walls, old photos of traditional Hawaiian culture.  Parties on the beach, people on the street.  It reminded them both of the comfort of community and home.

A couple of minutes passed by in silence, the grandmother reading the paper and Kanoa twiddling his thumbs.  He was nervous around her; he didn’t want to mess up any part of the cooking.

“What are you afraid of?” asked the grandmother shielded by her newspaper.

Kanoa thought about this question before answering.  He didn’t know why she would ask it or rather, what she was getting at so he stayed quiet.

“Kanoa, what are you afraid of?” she asked again.

This time, he truly didn’t know what to say other than everything.  But he took a deep breath and tried, as that is what his father always told him to do when things got tough.

“I’m afraid that I can’t do anything right.  I chop and mash and cut.  Sometimes, I cry in my room.  It’s all hard.  If I mess up, I feel ashamed.  I feel that mom and dad don’t love me.  I feel that I’m a failure” he responded and began crying.

The grandmother came over to console her grandchild.  She pulled him in with a big hug and wrapped her arms around him.

“There, there” she said while wiping the tears off of his face.

She took a second so that he could stop crying and took his face in her hands.

“Kanoa. Cooking is about failure.  It’s about understanding that a lot of the time, nothing goes right.  We can only hope for the best.  We follow recipes in cooking and in life.  When it doesn’t happen the way we want, it’s ok.  It’s about finding out how to make the bad things good and the good things better.  You should know that you are my most precious gift.  Every morning, I wake up, go surfing with your dad’s board and just listen to the waves.  It’s peaceful, like nothing else matters.  I can truly be myself and nobody can stop that.  I want cooking to be like that for you.  If it’s something that you truly care about, I’m willing to teach you.  The techniques, the passion.  All you have to do is adopt it and keep it close to your heart.  That way, nobody can ever take that away from you”.

Kanoa began crying again but it was a happy cry.  He knew that although he had lost his parents, he had gained something of equal value.  He hugged the grandmother tight.  It was in that moment that felt like every bad emotion had disappeared.  It was no longer a problem knowing that he had his knowledge, his knife skills and his ability to become what could be one of the greatest chefs in mainland Hawaii.

‘DING’, went the timer.

Kanoa went to the oven and turned on the light.  A plethora of fluffy pastries topped with a golden brown shimmer were illuminating through the plated glass window.  He put on an oven mitt and removed the baking sheet from the rack.

No more than 10 minutes later, Kanoa was enjoying his favorite snack with his favorite person.  With each bite, he could taste all of the flavors; the caramelization of the sugar, rich earth like tones from the sweet potato, the crunch of the puff pastry.  It was like that sunset, a beautiful scene of hard work and determination resulting, in Kanoa’s mind, that magic he always knew was there.

Before bed, Kanoa took out his notebook that he kept on his bedside nightstand.  In it, he kept personal memoirs, thoughts and secrets.  He flipped to a new page and titled it ‘Cooking and The Grandmother’.  After underlining the title, he put the butt of the pen up to his head thinking about what to say and after having an ‘ah-ha’ moment, he put the pen down on the paper:

My name is Kanoa and I’m a cook.  I make delicious food for myself and the people I care about.  People know me and my family.  They also know my family’s history.  Cooking is my passion.  I have learned by reading and I have also learned by doing.  I know that failure is ok and that it will happen often.  I also know that I will be successful.  Cooking is in my heart.  I notice the details; how to cut vegetables, how to use timing to my benefit and the organization of being in a kitchen.  If I continue the path I’m on, my hard work will not go unnoticed.  I am strong.  I am emotional.  I am willing.

He closed his notebook and drifted off into a dream where he was surfing with his mom, dad and of course, the grandmother.

The next day, when Kanoa came home with yet again another pineapple, he took in the familiar smells of the kitchen.  And as excited as those smells were, he couldn’t wait to get back into the kitchen.

The End.

Written By: Noah Feldman, Aloha Pokē Manager

Meet The Vendors: Union Squared

There is beauty in truth…but it didn’t start out that way. 13-year-old Vincent DiBattista lied about his age on an application for a job at Rosati’s on Chicago’s northwest side. Why? Because he wanted to learn to make pizza. It worked.

In high school Vince morphed into a musician, jamming in a metal band called Euthanasia, which covered groups like Black Sabbath. However, in an all too predictable manner, Euthanasia made its mark and hit its peak early. So after graduation, Vince drifted back to the kitchen, this time applying himself at Kendall College culinary school. After landing a job at Chicago’s fine dining establishment, Ambria, Vince spent his time perfecting preparation and producing beautifully executed dishes, but realized this was not his niche. He wanted to get real.

More interested in exploring the rustic and seasonal dishes of his Italian roots, Vince took a sous position in Michael Altenberg’s Evanston kitchen at Campagnola. He became Executive Chef in 2003 and Campagnola’s following and reputation have grown alongside his own. Campagnola is a dining experience that reflects elegance in its most honest and humble form.

Vince’s devotion to getting real was pervasive. When he purchased his first home, a brick bungalow in Chicago—it became his passion project. He lovingly restored to its original warmth and purpose, and it earned him a prestigious Richard Driehaus architectural award. Even his musical inclinations evolved. Turned on by this idea of “truth”, Vince took up the banjo and the fiddle, and delved into American roots music with teacher and friend Steve Rosen. Vince took home the first place clawhammer banjo prize in Woodstock. He also placed 3rd in the Old Town School of Folk Music’s midwest fiddle championship.

Vince made a fortuitous trip to Altavilla, Sicily to reconnect with cousins, and his fire was lit. Accompanying his family to the market and cooking and eating alongside his relatives, he brought home a simple brilliance he found on their tables. It was this passion that inspired the creation of Union Pizzeria in Evanston, a raucous, cavernous bar and restaurant with a wood fire oven that pumps out daily plates and flavorful tastes. Visits to Buddy’s Pizza in Detroit with his wife Lisa and her family solidified his motivation to bring his Sicilian roots into the 21st century, and Union Squared was born. Old school modesty meets spirited ingredients in a square pan pizza as light and chewy as it is historically rich. No lie.

See Vince playing fiddle.

Written by the Union Squared Team

Meet The Vendors: Revival Cafe-Bar

The first bar I was ever behind was the bar in the corner of my grandfather’s basement in Westchester, Illinois. With my mother being the oldest of twelve kids, our family parties were never short on liveliness and motion. The basement offered my cousins and I the chance to escape the watchful eyes of ‘the adults’. There was an old hi-fi that we could tune into B96 or Q101 and get a decent signal occasionally, a children’s-sized billiards table, dusty board games, and a television that was so old you couldn’t even hook up your Nintendo.

I always found myself drawn to the other side of the room though, where an old three-seat bar was nestled into a corner, illuminated by the glow of Olympia beer signs that my mother had brought home from her time working at a liquor store during college. There wasn’t any booze but there was a hand-crank ice crusher and I could chip off chunks of freezer burn from the mini-fridge and turn out a pretty mean orange soda slushie.

In college I worked waiting tables at an Irish supper club on the west side; the type of place where everyone knew everyone else, and where entire generations of families grew up together in the same neighborhood. I was underage when I first walked in and asked about a job. The owner shook my hand, smiled and asked, “would you like to bartend?”.  I told him that I would, but it would probably have to wait a couple of years. In the meantime, I learned as much as I could through observation; asking questions about ingredients, learning to take drink orders, but most importantly learning how to interact with people, and hanging out after my shift to sneak beers and shots of Irish whiskey.

My first chance to really get behind the bar came one year on St. Patrick’s Day when our bartender fell sick. I volunteered to barback for the day, but there was no one else to jump back there and finish off the afternoon shift, so I stepped up. I remember trying to pour Irish car bombs and my hands were shaking from the nerves—not to mention we were using a 1L bottle of Bailey’s with no pour  spout. By the end of the day I had gotten a handle on my Half & Half and Black & Tan pouring techniques, and I turned the bar over to the closing bartenders in a somewhat passable condition.

Photo Credit: Jordan Balderas

Photo Credit: Jordan Balderas

Since then I’ve worked in hotels, nightclubs, high-volume cocktail lounges, fine dining restaurants, shot-&-beer spots, you name it. Along the way I’ve picked up some nifty tricks, learned about fancy ingredients and presentations. I’ve figured out what to do and more importantly what NOT to do.

The biggest takeaway from all these experiences is this: a great bar is all about the people, both the ones working beside you and the ones sitting across from you. An outstanding cocktail isn’t worth a damn if it’s presented with a piss-poor attitude.  In the words of cocktail historian and author David Wondrich “A proper drink at the right time—one mixed with care and skill and served in a true spirit of hospitality—is better than any other made thing at giving us the illusion, at least, that we’re getting what we want from life.”

Written by Michael Huebner, Revival Bar Manager

 

Meet The Vendors: Furious Spoon

Furious Spoon originated from Chef Shin Thompson’s dreams. In them, he peers back in time to 1960 Muroran, Japan, in Hokkaido, a port town where his grandfather owned a modest ramen shop. In these dreams, he worked in the store with his grandfather where they had daily conversations about noodles. He could smell the aromas and taste the flavors in striking detail. Today, Chef Shin, with the help of restaurateurs Anshul Mangal and Nick Baxter, realized these dreams and recreated his grandfather’s ramen shop in Chicago. Revival Food Hall is the third Furious Spoon location. 

Fun fact? Chef Shin's grandfather loved apples. Almost all Furious Spoon menu items & dishes (95%) have apples in them, from the soups to the sauces! Want to learn how to slurp ramen the right way? Check out this video.

Meet The Vendors: The Budlong

Hello from The Budlong!

We proudly serve Nashville Hot chicken in our space at Revival Food Hall. We are beyond thrilled to share such an exciting environment with so many great restaurants, and we truly thank the diners that come and overwhelm us with love for the Nashville Hot experience! Let’s just say we can’t stop smiling!

We wanted to share a little of our story and the Nashville Hot story…

Folklore has it the Nashville Hot style of fried chicken originated as a revenge dish. Cheating man comes home after a night of womanizing, wanting breakfast. The lady of the house served him the spiciest concoction she could come up with in her kitchen, fried chicken with lashings of the frying oil heavily spiced with cayenne. Her idea backfired as the man, Thornton Prince, LOVED the spicy bird. So began a style of fried chicken, and sometimes fish, in Nashville.

The Budlong founder, Jared Leonard, took a trip to Nashville and knew he was eating something special with the Nashville Hot chicken. He knows that Chicago has a huge appreciation for excellent and unique flavors made with love, and so began a two-year quest to perfect his recipes and techniques.

Everything is handmade and filled with a lot of love from our team… like the pickles, for example! We make our own bread and butter pickles for The Budlong. They’re slightly sweeter than your average pickle in order to give your taste buds a little soothing coolness before you dive back in for more crispy spicy goodness.

Which brings us to the local connection with our name… The Budlong Pickle Farm and Factory was located in Chicago, where the Budlong Woods neighborhood now lies, and includes part of Lincoln Square. They grew cucumbers and beets and were the biggest supplier of pickles and pickled beets in the mid 1800’s.

We brought the flavors of Nashville to Chicago, and we are proud to represent both beloved Midwestern locales in the space we share with our awesome vendor neighbors and friends in Revival Food Hall.

Next time it’s The Budlong’s turn to write a blog post, we NEED to talk about the biscuits, y’all. Game changers.

Xoxo,
The Budlong team