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Recently in Green City Market Category

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[Expect a lot more people than this at the Green City Market barbecue.| Photo by Jean Lachat]

Ahh, sun. It is the second jacketless day for me, and it is lurvely. But if skeptical you remains unconvinced that spring really, truly has sprung, here's another sign: Tickets for the annual Green City Market chefs' barbecue are on sale now.

The alfresco event at the south end of Lincoln Park has grown immensely since its inception 11 years ago. Tickets back then were something like 25 bucks. Now, they're $100, and there are crowds. But there also is really delicious food and ample opportunities for chef-spotting, if you're into that sort of thing.

The barbecue is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. July 21. Tickets are on sale at brownpapertickets.com and at the market itself, which runs Wednesdays and Saturdays. (For our full guide to area farmers markets, click here.) Worth noting: Tickets won't be sold at the door.

So Bon Appetit magazine is the big sponsor for this year's Chicago Gourmet food fest, to be held Sept. 25 and 26 in Millenium Park.

And of course, Bon Appetit editor-in-chef Barbara Fairchild, speaking this morning in front of Mayor Daley and a roomful of Chicago's finest chefs (seriously - and we're not just saying that), would say that she loves Chicago.

But here's a tidbit we were delighted to learn: In the early '80s, Fairchild was the editor for the late Abby Mandel, the creator of Chicago's Green City Market, who wrote a food processor column for the magazine (and for this paper in the mid '80s).

"She was really the one who gave me so much enthusiasm for this city," Fairchild said. "You have here some of the most talented, smartest chefs working today.

"And as I know," she added cheekily, "it only takes 25 years to become an overnight sensation."

Chicago Gourmet attendees will be able to hobnob with Fairchild, other Bon Appetit editors and Iron Chef Cat Cora at the September festival under the Bon Appetit Marketplace tent. Also new this year: a pavilion hosted by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Think of it as a mini-Fancy Food Show. McCormick Place lost the annual trade show in 2008.

And speaking of Mandel's legacy, the Green City Market's annual chef's barbecue -- set for Thursday in Lincoln Park -- is, once again, sold out.

By guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes

NEW ORLEANS -- Some foodstuffs come with stories that are as nourishing as a meal. In this economy, tales of unanticipated success are particularly welcome.

Twenty years ago, Loretta Harrison was a medical librarian at Louisiana State University. Then, she learned that Jazzfest needed someone to make New Orleans' most famous candy, pralines. Harrison made a few batches from a family recipe -- and cooked a new life for herself.

In two days at the festival, Harrison and her pralines pulled far more than she was earning in the university library. She shelved the bookish life and opened Loretta's Authentic Pralines, 2101 N. Rampart. When the store's door opened, Harrison became the first black woman to have her own candy company in New Orleans. lorettaspralines_2056_0.gif

Harrison's a born sharer. Come into her store and choose your fill of pralines, cookies and cake, and she's likely to give you the one thing you missed ... just to try. That's kitchen wisdom for you: Sit, rest, eat. People do, and return to do so again and again.

You can get Harrison's well-gotten goods in NoLa or online. If she has her way, before much more time has passed, she'll be on TV and you'll be able to buy her food from a national network.

Harrison worked hard to make her pralines a success story, and she doesn't divulge her recipe. She is, however, happy to provide an insight into what makes a good praline: butter - real butter - and love.

By guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes

NEW ORLEANS -- From the outside, the famous New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase, looks to be an unemarkable residence.

Like a space in a science fiction film, the restaurant at 2301 Orleans Ave. is larger on the inside than the out. Expansive rooms have widely spaced, linen-clad tables. The walls are hung with large pieces of elegantly framed art - art that a Chase braved Katrina to save.

Dooky Chase is a true family business, headed by a small, energetic whirlwind of an octogenarian chef. At 86, Leah Chase runs her kitchen with talent, humor and frequent detours to the door, where patient customers wait to ask her to sign copies of The Dooky Chase Cookbook.

Leah Chase's daughter and her namesake, a Juilliard graduate, works the front of the house -- when she isn't singing at jazz club Snug Harbor. In the dining rooms, a nephew serves food and stories. And, in the kitchen, a young Dooky Chase - Edgar Chase IV, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris - cooks alongside his grandmother.

There's no doubt who's at the helm of the good ship Dooky Chase. As grandmother and grandson work, Leah Chase cheerfully thumps the young chef's arm, scolding and directing him. "Add garlic. The people want more garlic." (He adds more garlic.)

The dish of the moment is Shrimp Clemenceau, a bright, uncomplicated item that brings out the best of each ingredient without masking a thing.

Nothing needs to be hidden. The food at Dooky Chase is good ... good enough that Barack Obama made a point of eating there last year.

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Chase dispenses spice and advice with the aplomb of a woman who knows her place because she owns it. If you're allergic to shrimp, you can enjoy this dish: just use chicken. If you don't like chicken, substitute steak or lamb or whatever makes your plate and palate happy.

Versatility is key. New Orleans isn't about making do with what's at hand; it's about making the best with it.

What's the dishy best in Chicago right now? Lyle Allen, executive director of the Green City Market, is always ready to talk substitutes. He leads with Twin Oak Meats , which has fine pork - no steroids, no growth hormones.

If you want to go with steak, then Heartland Meats humanely raises Piedmontese cattle, producing beef that is tender and flavorful.

At Mint Creek Farm, a small family farm in Stelle, Ill., the lambs graze on alfalfa, grass and clover. Free-range living leads to better meat.

"It's amazing," Allen says. "I just love their sausage."

Sausage Clemenceau? Why not?

More than meats can be local. Allen says, "We have one of the best mushroom providers in the Midwest: Eric Rose, with River Valley Ranch. Unbelievable variety of mushrooms. He does a mixed bag for $10 - it's just my favorite thing."

A fast, adaptable, one-pot dish that comes with love, laughter and a serious heritage - That's a kitchen's favorite thing.

Recipe after the jump.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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