Q&A

5 Star Chicago Chefs Dish on Their Favorites

By Zagat Staff | September 4, 2013 By Zagat Staff  |  September 4, 2013

To celebrate the release of our new Chicago Restaurants survey, we thought we'd check in with some of our top culinary stars to see what's inspiring them in the kitchen right now. Read on to find out which Chicago neighborhood is Grant Achatz's favorite and which recipe Stefanie Izard is craving and more. 

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  • Grant Achatz of Alinea, Aviary, Next

    Best thing about the Chicago restaurant scene?
    Diversity

    Favorite neighborhood in Chicago?
    Bucktown

    Favorite food item of the moment?
    Salt

    Favorite thing to cook?
    Oysters and Pearls from the French Laundry

    Favorite recipe of all time?
    Black Truffle Explosion at Alinea

  • Rick Bayless of Frontera Fresco, Frontera Grill, Tortas Frontera, Topolobampo, Xoco

    Best thing about the Chicago restaurant scene? 
    The incredible neighborhood places. Gutsy, young, amazing chefs who are so talented.

    Favorite neighborhood in Chicago? 
    Tough... I love where I live in Bucktown, but I also go everywhere - Logan Square, Pilsen, Andersonville - I love that Chicago has that diverse quality. It’s cool.

    Favorite aspect of your job/why are you in this business?
    Corny, but I love the people I work with - the camaraderie of it all. It’s thrilling.  

    Favorite food item of the moment?
    The fresh eggs I am getting from my brand-new chickens!

    Favorite thing to cook? 
    Simple when I am at home - grilling, greens, maybe a wood-fired pizza…

  • Curtis Duffy of Grace

    Why Chicago?
    It's such an amazing food city.

    Best thing about the Chicago restaurant scene?
    The diversity of the restaurants

    Favorite neighborhood in Chicago?
    West Loop

    Favorite aspect of your job/why are you in this business?
    Creating dishes and teaching young cooks

    Favorite food item of the moment?
    Coconut

    Favorite thing to cook?
    Vegetables and fish

    Favorite recipe of all time?
    Peanut butter no-bake cookies

  • Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat, Little Goat Bread, Little Goat Diner

    Best thing about the Chicago restaurant scene?
    It’s growing so fast that there is always something new to taste.

    Favorite neighborhood in Chicago?
    West Loop!

    Favorite aspect of your job/why are you in this business?
    I like making people happy.

    Favorite food item of the moment?
    Crab-stuffed squash blossoms that taste like crab rangoon.

    Favorite recipe of all time?
    My mom's zucchini bread.

  • Paul Kahan of Avec, Big Star, Blackbird, The Publican, Publican Quality Meats

    Best thing about the Chicago restaurant scene?
    Great restaurants, without the attitude.

    Favorite neighborhood in Chicago?
    I actually love Logan Square. Awesome farmer's market, restaurants and bars.

    Favorite aspect of your job/why are you in this business?
    It's nice to see a person with limited kitchen skills, poor leadership or both become a great leader and chef. I'm in this business because I love food.

    Favorite food item of the moment?
    Every June, soft-shell crabs. I'm also loving Jimmy Nardello peppers these days.

    Favorite thing to cook?
    I love to cook whole fish on the grill.

Places Mentioned

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Avec Restaurant

Mediterranean West Loop
Food28 Decor24 Service25 Cost$48
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Blackbird Restaurant

American West Loop
Food26 Decor23 Service26 Cost$82
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Frontera Fresco

Mexican The Loop
Food24 Decor14 Service18 Cost$14
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Frontera Grill

Mexican River North
Food28 Decor25 Service25 Cost$45
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XOCO

Mexican River North
Food27 Decor18 Service20 Cost$21
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Grace

New American West Loop
Food27 Decor27 Service27 Cost$267

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