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The Crib - The Chicago Reader Says This Restaurant is a Joke

March 28, 2008 By: Don Woolf Category: The Chicago Scene 808 Comments →

crib.jpgThe 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.

Starbucks Is Right - They Shouldn’t Have To Pay

March 28, 2008 By: Don Woolf Category: The Angry Waiter Nation, The Chicago Scene 1309 Comments →

starbuckstips.jpegI don’t usually side with corporate giants in fights with the little guys, like baristas, but something about last week’s $100 million judgment against Starbucks didn’t sit quite right with me.

The ruling stems from a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of California baristas who claim Starbucks unfairly and illegally forced them to share their tips with “shift supervisors.” According to the lawsuit, rather than pay their shift supervisors more out of the corporate coffers, the company used tips as a means of subsidizing the supervisors’ income. The complaintants say shift supervisors are managers and managers in the service industry are not to a share of the tips.

This is true. In restaurants, bars and coffee houses, managers are not tipped employees. When tips are combined and then split among servers, as with Starbuck’s tip pool, or when one tipped employee shares a portion of tips with another employee, like when a waitress “tips out” a busser, managers receive no cut of the tips. Many states specifically prohibit employers from forcing tipped employees to share tips with traditionally non-tipped employees.

The real question, though, is what is the role of the shift supervisor? Is the shift supervisor an actual member of the management team? (more…)

Coffee with Conscience

March 28, 2008 By: Editor Category: The Angry Waiter Nation, The Chicago Scene 119 Comments →

Like your coffee with a splash of social conscience?  Read this GapersBlock article about Crop to Cup, a for-profit company which helps family-farmers in Uganda raise, export and sell their coffee crops.

Jacob Elster, a 26-year-old Chicagoan living in Ukrainian Village, helped launch the company.

James Beard Award Nominees Announced

March 25, 2008 By: Editor Category: The Chicago Scene 544 Comments →

beard.jpgThe James Beard Foundation yesterday announced nominees for its 2008 awards and, as always, Chicagoans figured prominently.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the awards, Time magazine dubbed them “the Oscars of the food world.” The awards are among the highest honors given to professionals working in all aspects of the food and beverage industry - from chefs to journalists to owners. I’ve yet to see a category for servers and bartenders, though. Maybe they should consider adding one.

Chicagoans nominated include:

  • Rich Melman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises for the Outstanding Restaurateur
  • Grant Achatz of Alinea for Outstanding Chef
  • Mindy Segal of HotChocolate for Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Brian Duncan, wine director at Bin 36, for Outstanding Wine Service
  • Janet Rausa Fuller of the Chicago Sun-Times is nominated in the Newspaper Feature Writing Without Recipees category for a great article, “Fish Fraud: The Menu Said Snapper, but it Wasn’t
  • Vince Gerasole of Channel 2 Chicago in the Television Food Segment, National or Local for Table for Two
  • Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues, Carrie Nahabedian of Naha and Bruce Sherman of North Pond were each nominated in the Best Chef: Great Lakes region category.

The full list of nominees is available on the James Beard Foundation Awards site.

The awards ceremony will be held June 8, 2008 at the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Killer Cupcakes

March 21, 2008 By: Editor Category: The Chicago Scene 55 Comments →

bakeanddetroy1.jpgThe Chicagoist today did a very nice write-up of and interview with Natalie Slater, a punk rock’, cupcake makin’, cake decoratin’ Chicagoan who makes and sells stuff that’s right up The Angry Waiter community’s alley.

Natalie doesn’t make just any old cupcake…she decorates her creations with swear words, pictures of dead celebrities, horror flick creatures, insults…pretty much anything your nasty heart desires. She makes nice cupcakes too. I think I saw one with whipped cream and a cherry on her Flickr page.

This stuff is perfect for anyone in the service industry. Think about it…you have an argument with your manager, don’t apologize, get her cupcakes with “Up Yours” written in icing. Had enough of your drunken owner’s abuse? Give him cupcakes with “I Quit!” swirled on top. At first he’ll think you’re being nice, but when he looks at them he’ll realize it’s your way of saying, “Screw you guys, I’m outta here.” Or, if you perfer, just get the ones that say “Fuck You.”

ihateyou.jpgShe also makes little decorations you can stick into any pastry. Her sister wants a cake decorated with “The Golden Girls” because “she likes old people.” Natalie’s stuff has enough attitude to curl the hair on Bea Arthur’s chin.

If you’re interested, you can buy her cupcakes and decorations on Etsy and check out her blog.

NBC Casting Restaurant Reality Show

March 19, 2008 By: Editor Category: The Angry Waiter Nation, The Chicago Scene 1275 Comments →

Interested in getting financing to open your own restaurant?

NBC will be in Chicago and in Washington, D.C. this Saturday, March 22, 2008, casting for a new reality show pitting two-person teams against each other with the final prize being financing to open a restaurant.

The only catch…the two people on the team must have some kind of prior relationship i.e. lovers, friends, co-workers.

Reality shows aren’t usually my thing, but I know if you took two restaurant people and put them up against any two non-restaurant people, the restaurant people win hands down.

I’m guessing a lot of the people who audition for this show are going to be the weekend-gourmet types…you know, the type of people who love to cook, love to eat out and who are told over and over by friends that they should open a restaurant.  Some do and six months later they’re out of business.

Somebody in the business should go for this.  If you’re interested, scroll to the bottom of NBC’s Casting Page.

Top Chef Chicago - Chicago Chef Wins Challenge - Audience Loses

March 19, 2008 By: Don Woolf Category: The Angry Waiter Nation, The Chicago Scene 438 Comments →

I’m not a big fan of Bravo’s series Top Chef - an hour of whiny chefs running around, pissed off, pathetically apologizing to a panel of judges because their souffle didn’t turn out…anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant knows that scenario all too well…but, I’m watching this year because Season 4 is based in Chicago and is supposed to include a few Chicago Cuisine “twists” and I love watching so-called “Top Chefs” ruin my favorite foods.

Episode One lived up, or down, to my expectations.

The show began with the the contestants meeting at Chicago’s favorite tourist-pizza-trap, Pizzeria Uno. Let’s get something straight…Chicagoans don’t eat here. Most of us don’t even eat deep dish pizza unless we have out-of-town guests. We eat thin crust pizza and not those greasy, triangle-shaped “slices” they serve in New York…we eat our greasy pizza cut into squares.

The contestants’ first “quick fire” challenge was to create their “own signature deep dish pizza.” What a disaster. Sixteen experienced, trained chefs and not one of them even came close to making anything you could call pizza. One guy, Richard, put peaches in his pizza. Peaches, proving once again that though a chef may be cookbook smart, he or she may have no idea how to prepare food people actually want to eat.

On a brighter note: Chicago-resident Stephanie Izard, chef/owner of the now closed Scylla, won the first challenge with her rendition of Duck L’Orange. I’ll admit to bias here…I’m hoping a Chicago chef wins this thing.

The most disturbing part of Top Chef was the choice of guest judges. Rather than choosing guest judges from Chicago’s deep pool of culinary masters, the producers chose two people who represent everything that’s wrong with the restaurant business - Rocco DiSpirito and Anthony Bourdain.

You might remember DiSpirito from the NBC reality-sitcom “The Restaurant.” DiSpirito played a self-centered, egotistical hothead who ran around the restaurant insulting everybody who worked for him. He had an odd obsession with his mother’s meatballs. Hey, Rocco, cut the apron strings…get your own balls.

Bourdain is the author of “Kitchen Confidential,” a book I read and forgot years ago. I do remember him comparing himself and his kitchen crew to pirates, though. OK, we get it…you’re a tough guy chef…now go bake me a cake.

Padma LakshmiThe one redeeming aspect of this show and the reason I’ll keep watching, is Padma Lakshmi. This woman is hotter than a wasabi- habanero paste. Keep up the good work Padma.

Achatz In Remission

March 18, 2008 By: Editor Category: The Chicago Scene 1027 Comments →

Chicago chef Grant Achatz of Alinea, 1723 N. Halsted, got some great news from his doctors a few days ago.

Last year, Achatz was diagnosed with oral cancer. Doctors wanted to remove most of his tongue, most likely resulting in him losing his sense of taste and possibly his ability to talk and swallow. Not so good for anyone, especially a chef.

Achatz rejected the treatment plan and eventually found a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center who believed his cancer could be treated with chemotherapy and radiation.

After 18 weeks of chemo, six weeks of radiation and the removal of lymph nodes in the back of his neck, Achitz’s cancer is in remission.

Congratulations Grant! The Angry Waiter wishes you the best of health.

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Cheap Thrills Chicago - Free Beer With Dick Leinenkugel

March 14, 2008 By: Editor Category: The Chicago Scene 48 Comments →

If you’re running low on cash or just waiting until St. Paddy’s Day to blow your wad, you can still have a good time Saturday without spending a penny.

Dick Leinenkugel of Leinenkugel’s Breweries is hosting a beer tasting at Binny’s South Loop., Saturday, March 15, 1-3pm.   It’s free and when you’re broke, nothing hits the spot like free beer.

Leinenkugel will be pouring his custom brews and giving out draft samples of the brewery’s most popular beers.

So, hit the parade downtown and then head to the South Loop.

Oh…Dick Leinenkugel likes to talk, so get him talking and he’ll probably feed you beer all afternoon.

Binny’s Beverage Deport- South Loop  1132 S. Jefferson   312-768-4400

Carol’s Pub - Chicago - Review

March 12, 2008 By: Don Woolf Category: The Chicago Scene 56 Comments →

Carol’s Pub gained popularity a few years back after the Tribune wrote it up as a great dive bar. And a dive it truly is.

Toothless customers, a bouncer who looks like a cross between a Hell’s Angel and John Popper and who sells lingerie on the side and bartenders who I haven’t trusted since the time four years ago when my girlfriend ordered an Absolute and soda and the thin, Irish bartender kept saying to her, “You like that drink? You’re gonna like that drink.” An hour later she was passed out at home after only having that one drink. Luckily, we only live around the corner. (more…)