Cookoff: roommate

Then-Sous Chef (now Chef de Cuisine) Jon Bignelli of D-50, preparing Squab with butternut noodles, cream soda and carob. (Creative Commons photo from the Flickr account of diacritical)

Here’s the most interesting thing to happen to me in a long time: a winner of Bravo’s Top Chef recommends I have potential roommates cook for me, so I can find someone who loves food as much as I do.

What a rockin’ idea!

The Chef is Stephanie Izard (here’s her blog), and via a Twitter conversation, I lamented that I’m having trouble finding someone who likes food as much as me. She suggested I make them cook for me. My translation: a full-blown cookoff.

But what’s a cookoff if no one’s participating? To that end, I’m spreading the word among Chicago’s media (and social media) that I have a Gold Coast apartment ready to share with the best cook I can find to room with. I’m also trying to spread the word among students of the Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago—AKA CHIC.

I’ll keep you updated on my marketing progress, and after I return to Chicago from a Thanksgiving holiday in Ohio, I’ll shoot some pictures of the apartment for this continually-evolving post, to which I’ll refer candidates.

I figure the cookoff will take place mid-December, with a move-in date as soon after as possible. (Maybe I’ll have to wait until Jan. 1, I dunno.)

Restaurant dreams


Hazelnut and Chard Ravioli Salad, conceived, prepared and photographed by Heidi Swanson of

I owe it to you to explain why most of the past couple weeks’ posts spoke only of food. (By the way, my menus are compiled at the end of this post.) I have been thinking of starting an underground restaurant.

I had read an article years back about people who love to cook inviting others to their homes for dinner. And charging them. It’s more personal than a restaurant, but it also provides some semblance of an income for the cook, who’d be putting a lot of time into the preparation.

I revisited this idea when I recently sought work in a restaurant and found the old catch-22. That is to say, I haven’t been able to get a back-of-house job because I haven’t already done it for several years. So I figured I’d take matters into my own hands.

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