A Special Dinner for the Edna Lewis Foundation

February 16th, 2015

Tuesday, March 3 we will have the distinctive pleasure of welcoming Chef Joe Randall and six guest chefs plus a guest barkeep for an epic feast to celebrate the legacy of Edna Lewis, one of America’s greatest chefs, and to raise funds for the Edna Lewis Foundation. The Foundation is a fledgling 501(c)(3) organization started in 2013 with the mission “To honor, cultivate, and preserve, the rich African-American culinary history by offering a variety of events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and promote a deeper understanding of Southern culinary culture and heritage.” We couldn’t agree with more with that spirit and are donating Big Jones’ space time, and labor for the event so that 100% of your ticket price can go toward forwarding that mission. Event registration is on the foundation’s web site here.

In the interest of advancing the Edna Lewis Foundation’s mission of preserving the richness of African American culinary history, and stated goal of advancing African American talent in the culinary field, six African American chefs and a barkeep will be present to cook for you. If you take a look at the menu, maybe you’ll be left asking yourself the same question I’ve asked myself many times…

A few years ago, I was at a food & wine event in a major Southern city and the hotel had the standard welcome package available with information about area attractions, hotels, and of course, restaurants. On the back page was a photo montage of fifty of the top chefs in town. Three of them were African American, this in a city which is almost one-third African American. It wasn’t the first time I had the thought, but my gut was hit hard by the question, “why is the face of Southern food so white?”

The reality of American culinary history is that Southern cuisine was invented, cultivated, and evolved into one of the world’s great regional cuisines in and by the hands of highly skilled women and men of African descent. Throughout the formative eras of Southern cuisine, whether you were in the White House, or a plantation Big House or city merchant’s home, I can assure you the white folks were not doing the cooking, and the lady of the house wasn’t about to risk a bit of sweat on her brow to even venture into the kitchen. There was some direction from management, but the fields and kitchens were the domain of African Americans. They were the great minds and hands behind the evolution of our beloved Southern cooking, and their voice is needed today more than ever.

As we are now in the midst of African American History Month, I think it’s a great time to contemplate this little-talked about part of American history. As with the genesis of blues music, rock and roll, funk, dance pop, and hip hop and many other parts of American culture that we revere, the creating was done by black folks. Certainly with cooking, it was always a laborer’s role and chefs were rarely famous until the television blast Julia Child across the airwaves in the 1960’s. A generation later, our career is considered a prestigious one and slowly but surely, the face you’re most likely to see at the top of the kitchen hierarchy is is white. Through the work of these chefs presenting dinner and some discussion before and after, we hope to come to a greater understanding of what is happening in the culinary field and how to achieve a balance of opportunity so that everyone has a chance to contribute to the future of cuisine. We are sure to find that the African American voice, when heard, is what American cuisine needs to find its heart and soul.

For event registration and tickets, visit www.ednalewisfoundation.org

Tuesday, March 3 2015

Cocktail Reception 6:00 p.m.

Guinea hen in aspic, cornmeal crisps with creamy shad roe dip, savory benne crackers with shrimp paste and pickled fennel

Beverage Pairings by Kelly Stepto-Royston, Atwood Restaurant, TBA

Dinner 7:00 p.m.

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, Your Resident Gourmet, Atlanta, Author, Field Peas to Foie Gras
Deep-fried Mississippi catfish with Southern-style hoecakes, pickled onions, and red hot pepper relish

Chef Timothy Dean, Timothy Dean Burger Bar, Washington, DC
Rosemary roasted chicken leg stuffed with collard greens, mirepoix of country ham and sweetbreads, with essence of jalapeno cheese grits

Chef Kristopher Murray and Washburne Culinary Institute
J.D. pulled pork and crisp pork belly, sweet potato cake with Washburne cha-cha relish

Chef Brian Jupiter, Executive Chef, Corporate Chef, Pioneer Tavern Group
Warm butterbean and crawfish salad, watercress, wild boar bacon vinaigrette

Chef Dwight Evans, Executive Chef, Covenant Village
Compressed grassfed oxtail, morel demi, celeriac puree, roasted pomme de terre

Chef Cliff Rome, Chef/Owner, Rome’s Joy Catering
Uncle Billy’s bourbon peach cobber: Cinnamon & bourbon glazed peaches with hand-rolled butter crust and vanilla bean gelato

$125 per person

for event registration and tickets, visit www.ednalewisfoundation.org

edna lewis headshot011 Edna Lewis (660x1024)

 

 

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Soul Food Week, and dinner with the Soul Food Scholar, January 11-18, 2015

January 4th, 2015

We’re excited to announce our first-ever Soul Food Week, eight days dedicated to a uniquely American cuisine that will feature delicious down-home cooking in honor of one of the pillars of African American foodways, one of monumental importance we feel is the most under-rated cuisine in America.

Soul Food Week was conceived last summer, after our our July Newsletter in which we spotlighted Adrian Miller’s brilliant book Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, sparked some emails. A long-time regular customer commented that they once called asking if we had soul food, and we said we don’t have soul food but since we’re Southern, they’d probably find something they’d like. They they came in, and became fans, and thanked us for the link to Miller’s book. Another customer suggested that we do a Soul Food Week, like a popup, because it’s hard to find good soul food in Chicago so why not hook her (and her friends and family) up? That suggestion was hard to resist.

What is the difference between soul food and Southern food? I’d suggest coming to the special dinner we’re doing with Soul Food Scholar Adrian Miller on January 18th to find out the answer to that question. It may surprise you.

Over the last few years such iconic soul food restaurants as Army and Lou’s, Edna’s, and Izola’s have closed, while others such as Pearl’s Place and Lem’s Barbecue continue to thrive, and still others struggle. That’s the restaurant business. But there have been reports from around the country of the difficulties soul food restaurants face to survive in a rapidly changing restaurant landscape. To that reality, the last chapter of Miller’s book is titled “Whither Soul Food?” and I felt a calling to explore the questions he asks in that chapter. During and after our author dinner with Adrian on the 18th, expect some deep discussion on that very question.

To the comment that it’s hard to find good soul food in Chicago: it certainly is on the North Side, so here we are, but there continue to be great spots around the city, so we’ll also look to highlight African American-owned soul food restaurants in Chicago so you’ll be able to further explore the soul food tradition around the city. With the abundance of ethnic cuisines in Chicago, I think our soul food restaurants remain easily the most underrated category, and by introducing our North Side clientele to soul food in our little shop, it is my sincerest hope that we may begin to change that and soul food can take its rightful seat at the table with these many other world cuisines.

So, come by and enjoy delicious soul food, and get tipped off to other great soul food spots around town that are under the radar. For some of you, it will be a chance to enjoy a cuisine you know and love, but I suspect for much of our North Side clientele, it will be a fresh and new discovery, and that’s what we’re looking to provide. Please join us any time during Soul Food Week, and take a gander at the special dinner we are offering with the Soul Food Scholar on Sunday the 18th.

Lots of you regulars are also fans of our music selection, and I personally am curating a playlist of old and new soul music to set the mood, from Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Erykah Badu with all of our favorite Chicago, Detroit, and Memphis artists in between.

The menus are linked below, please check them out. We are crazy excited about this and hope you’ll join us for our first Soul Food Week.

Soul Food Scholar Author Dinner Jan 18

Lunch Soul Food Week

Dinner Soul Food Week

And just for fun, here’s the special dinner we’re doing on the 18th. Please call 773-275-5725 for reservations.

Soul Food

The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine

With Adrian Miller, The Soul Food Scholar

Sunday, January 18, 2015

5:30 reception

Hibiscus Aid Rum Coolers
Cognac and Sweet Tea Cocktails

Nanticoke Catfish Bites
Hot Water Cornbread with Honey and Homemade Cherry Bomb Hot Sauce
Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Memphis-style Sauce

6:30 dinner

Corn Flake Fried Chicken

Chitlins Duran, Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce

Purple Hulls Peas with Boiled and Buttered Rice

Nyesha Arrington’s Mac ‘n Cheese

Johnetta’s Mixed Greens

Momma Cherri’s Candied Carrots

Minnie Utsey’s “Never Fail” Cornbread

Hot Banana Pudding with Meringue

 

Thirty dollars per person plus tax and gratuity

For reservations, call 773-275-5725

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Soul Food Week – January 11-18

December 31st, 2014

Our first ever Soul Food Week is January 11-18. Our week-long celebration of African American urban foodways is inspired by Adrian Miller’s landmark award-winning book Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time. The Soul Food Scholar himself, Adrian Miller, will join us for a special soul food dinner and book signing Sunday, January 18!

You can look forward to all manner of delicious soul food cooking every night as we will adopt a special all-soul food menu for dinner the entire week!

More details to come…

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New Year’s Day: Open for brunch

December 31st, 2014

Happy New Year! On Thursday January 1st, 2015, we will be open for brunch 10am-3pm and closed for dinner.

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A Celebration of the New Year

December 25th, 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, we reflect upon what an amazing year it’s been, and our thanks go to you for helping make it happen. This year as always, we are throwing a special dinner party to close out the year, and as always it is a unique one. We let loose a little bit and indulge in a way that we don’t normally on a daily basis.

If you’re a regular guest at Big Jones, you know ingredients like truffles, steak, and black trumpet mushrooms don’t show up on the menu very often. Neither does a 5-course tasting menu. We save these indulgences for just this kind of occasion, and while heirloom receipts are most often at the forefront of our cooking, here we let our creative juices flow a bit and explore the possibilities of the future, even as Southern culinary tradition informs us every step of the way. This is a time to look ahead, Auld Lang Syne.

The tasting menu includes fish, shellfish, and meat, however there is a convenient option for the fish and and meat courses to make a vegetable tasting menu if you prefer.

The tasting dinner menu is available from 5 p.m. until midnight. Our regular dinner menu will be available for seatings from 5:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. for families. Our regular menu will not be available after 7:00 p.m., thank you for not asking.

Please join us for a special evening, be safe, and best of luck and fortune in the new year!

A Celebration of the New Year
December 31, 2014  7 pm – midnight

A Gullah Good Luck Charm
Sea Island Red Pea “Cappuccino”
puffed Anson Mills Carolina gold rice, minced turnip greens in apple cider vinegar, bacon froth

Chatham Artillery Punch

First
Appalachian Roasted Blue Barley Perlau
celery root puree, melted leeks,  black trumpet mushrooms

Bread Service
Awendaw Spoonbread
Three Sisters Garden corn mushrooms, house-cultured butter,
huckleberry conserves

Second
Tempel Farms Rutabaga Bisque
Perigord Truffle, Candied Johnathan Apple, Pumpernickel Croutons, Toasted Fenugreek

2013 Domaine de Bila-Haut Cotes-du Roussillon Blanc

Third
Wild Louisiana White Shrimp
Slow-poached in shrimp butter, Sea Island White Flint Grits cooked with LaClare Chandoka, crackling, scallions, piccalilli
-or-
Salsify “Oysters” ca. 1840
Pernod-creamed spinach, sweet potato puree, pickled peach

2012 Eola Hills Chardonnay, “La Creole,” Rickreal, Washington

Fourth
Wood-grilled Hoosier Grassfed Flatiron
Crawfish Newburg, fire-roasted mustard greens, crispy confit rose finn potato, Marchand-du-vin
-or-
Pan-fried Red Fife Wheatberry Chop
Curried cauliflower confit, fire-roasted mustard greens, pickled beet beurre rouge

2011 Pilizota Babic, North Dalmatia, Croatia

Dessert
Chocolate Chess Pie cream sherry banana sabayon, chocolate chile ice cream, candied peanuts
-or-
Meyer Lemon Tart salted sorghum ice cream, torn meringue, young coconut, coffee

L. Mawby Brut Blanc de Blanc, Leelenau Peninsula, Michigan

Seventy-five dollars per person
Listed beverage pairings, optional, thirty dollars

ambersnacknye

Last year’s seared amberjack, rum-glazed plantains, fire-roasted chickory, and pineapple chutney was a salute to the gulf coast

flatiron nye

A Slagel Family Farm flatiron steak was served with confit rose finn fingerling potatoes, Crawfish Newburgh, charred mustard greens, and Marchand-du-vin, a classic Creole sauce a week in the making with veal jus, ham, truffles, and wine

oat pilau nye

The art of vegetables shows up in a black barley pilau with creamed cauliflower, melted leeks, and garlicky roasted black trumpet mushrooms

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