The Chicago Reader’s restaurant writer/blogger Mike Sula in his “Omnivorous” column this week (March 27, 2008) tells the fabulous tale of a new Chicago restaurant, “The Crib,” opening next week in a very unlikely location - the Carter H. Harrison water intake crib - two miles off-shore of Oak Street Beach.
Sula travels out to The Crib to interview Albert D’Angelo - the 24-year-old pot smoking, prep school dropout who began his culinary career as a dishwasher in New York’s most exclusive restaurants, thumbed his nose at the establishment and started hosting underground nomadic dining adventures for Manhattan’s cultural elite in places like a subway power station.
D’Angelo claims to be the first chef to use edible menus and to serve foie gras lollipops.
According to Sula, Chicagoans will never eat at The Crib. Instead, D’Angelo reserves his 13 tables for people who truly appreciate inventive cuisine - New Yorkers, Los Angelians and Londoners. And, he’s opening the restaurant in the one place these people would never look for some of America’s best food - Chicago.
But don’t rent a boat and beg to be let in on the party just yet. Why? Because The Crib doesn’t exist…and never will. It’s a joke, an April Fool’s joke.
Sula’s column is a great read - funny and filled with so many inside jokes and references I’m sure I only caught a handful.
Look for these clues while you read:
- The sub-head of the column is “Don’t Fool Yourself - If You Live in Chicago You’ll Never Get a Reservation at The Crib.” At least Mike’s fair - he’s cluing us in right off the bat.
- Albert D’Angelo is a fictional character in a T.C. Boyle short story. In the story, D’Angelo is a chef who uses food to seduce a female food critic who relies on her boyfriend’s opinion when critiquing restaurants because she’s afraid of being wrong.
- Foie Gras Lollipops were first served by Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel. Bowles is a 2008 James Beard Award nominee.
- In the column, D’Angelo says he’s sick of his creations ending up on the menus of restaurants like Chicago’s Alinea. Alinea’s Grant Achatz was also nominated this week for a James Beard Award.
- The Crib opens April 1st. O.K., there’s your dead-giveaway.
- In the column, Sula writes that D’Angelo substitutes water in his bong for a 1982 Chateau Petrus, Bordeaux’s most expensive and possibly best wine. A bottle of ‘82 Petrus retails for between $2,500 and $5,500.
- Chef D’Angelo says he had to “go out and grease palms to get my permits and location like anybody else.” Maybe the most realistic aspect of the story, but nobody actually says it out loud, especially to a reporter.
- Edible menus were invented by Chicago chef Homaru Canto of Moto.
- Sula’s D’Angelo says he was the first to serve food on a naked woman. Instead of sushi, though, he used pasta. Pretty funny image, guests eating pasta off a naked model. I guess it’s a poke a New York and L.A. chefs who actually did serve food on naked models. (see video)
- In his blog, Sula writes about the duck D’Angelo uses to sire offspring whose livers will be served on opening night. The duck’s name is Joe Moore…after the alderman who fought for Chicago’s foie gras ban.
There may be more clues and inside jokes. See if you can find them.