It was a crystal clear, sunny weekend in Chicago. Or so we gathered. We spend it within the massive confines of McCormick Place for the National Restaurant Association's annual show.
Sore feet aside, there are worse ways to spend a weekend. The NRA show is where chefs, restaurateurs, buyers, sellers, producers and importers collide to talk dining trends and show off the latest in food, drink and gear.
So much to see, so much to sample. Some odds and ends:
Hand sanitizer stations were everywhere. Every 50 paces or so. Water, on the other hand, was elusive to the point of maddening. S-T photographer John Kim, my companion on opening day, had this theory: No water equals more stomach space for tasting samples.
The Peppadew booth was manned (womaned?) by young ladies in tight blank tank tops and miniskirts. Perhaps they took a wrong turn en route to the Auto Show?
Roy Choi (below), chef of L.A.'s Kogi Korean BBQ truck, told me, "This is the most beautiful city I've seen in my life. And I've been to Milan, Paris, Tokyo, Seoul... ." (It was Choi's first visit to Chicago and the show.) This remark does not mean we are getting a Kogi truck. "You don't have a street food culture," Choi said. Boo hoo.
Choi, on his first night here, ate at Uno's and Sunda, the new Billy Dec hotspot. Of Sunda, he shrugged, "Alright." He asked for recommendations. We offered up La Pasadita, Hot Doug's, Publican. An attendee with a New York badge standing next to us piped in Urban Belly.
We heart Cosentino.
This, by the way, is what Cosentino made Sunday. Looks like a ham, right? It is so not a ham. It is all the meat FROM A PIG'S HEAD. Dudes in the audience were visibly thrilled. (You'll read more about this in an upcoming Food section.)