Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Byron's Hot Dogs owner guest chefs at Obama White House: Serves Chicago-style hot dogs


hot dog.jpgMike Payne, owner of Byron's Hot Dogs in Chicago, wife Ann and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

WASHINGTON--With all the Chicagoans in the Obama White House, you'd think someone would know off the bat who to call to steam up some Chicago-style hot dogs for the White House annual congressional picnic on Tuesday. Instead, the White House phoned the offices of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for assistance and as a result Mike Payne, the owner of Byron's Hot Dogs in Chicago was recruited to help.

Payne sells Vienna hot dogs from two locations on the North Side, 1017 W. Irving Park near Wrigley Field and 1701 W. Lawrence. On June 6, Payne had to close the Byron's in west suburban Forest Park.

Payne, with his wife, Ann, worked alongside of White House chief chef Cristeta Comerford in the White House kitchen on Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to close to 10 p.m. for the event, which featured food from various regions of the U.S. The steamed Chicago Vienna Hot Dog represented the Midwest.

The official White House call to Payne came from Ebs Burnough, a deputy White House Social Secretary. Since outside supplies cannot be brought in, Payne sent Comerford a shopping list in order to make an authentic Chicago hot dog with all the traditional fixings. Comerford found an East Coast Vienna Hot Dog distributor; other items included yellow mustard (the greatest of mustards), shredded lettuce, diced onions sliced cucumbers, green peppers and tomatoes. Plus peppers, celery salt and dill pickles. The only ingredient Comerford could not find was the specific day glow green relish featured at Byron's; she found something close, though.

Chicago-style hot dogs are steamed; Payne showed Comerford how to steam them in the White House kitchen, where he worked for the day prepping.

"Everybody there was really really nice," Payne said, "Like they were treating us like a guest."

Payne, who opened the first Byron's in 1975, also met President Obama and First Lady Michelle in the White House.

Said Payne, "a little bit of home cooking came all the way to the White House"

The president and Mrs. Obama and her mom, Marian Robinson, did send in a "to go" order for four hot dogs. Payne prepared them extra special and sent them up to the Obama residence.

On a silver platter.


Yellow mustard the greatest of mustards? Now don’t get me wrong, Im as big of a fan of yellow mustard as anyone, and would put nothing less on a Chitown hotdog, but to declare it the GREATEST of all mustards, I call into question this writer’s mustard background.

Yum, Yum, Yum, Byron should have brought some Chicago Style Italian beefs with him.

Byron's hot dogs and hamburgers really are worth going out of your way for--they know how to make them taste so, so good! You choose your own, fresh veggie toppings, then enjoy with natural french fries (award-winning, by the way!)...worth the calories! Oh, and top that all off with one of Mike's smiles--old-fashioned family friendly.

Doesn't Obama have more important things to do, seing as we have the greatest ecological disaster in world history in the gulf, and we have lost 4 million jobs under his watch?

Congratulations Ann and Mike!

Go to Byron's. They have great food at reasonable prices.

Byron's has the BEST Chicago style dogs, beef and fries in the whole city. I am glad the politicians involved got this one right.

Way to go Mike!

Congrats to Mike, Anne and all the Byron's staff. What an honor! Hands down, best dogs, burgers and fries in the city.

Hope they ate these "classics" while waitng for
the Hawks to win the Stanley Cup!

You can take a hot dog out of Chicago,
but you can't take Chicago out of the hot dog!

WTG Ann & MIke!!!

I just got back to Chicago and went to Byron's and got a hotdog. Good stuff.


Way to go Mike and Ann. That's one delivery I would of love to have made :)

We love Byron's hotdogs so much that on our way to Florida from Wisconsin we stopped by Byron's to get some Chicago hotdogs to go. Thanks Mike.

The quality of food Byron's has served for more than 20 years has not changed, as well as it's popularity. The menu has expanded much since then, but the Vienna Hot Dog with the 'bag' loaded with fries is always a winner. My favorite is the Italian Beef...come see, why Byron's Hot Dogs was invited to serve at the President's picnic!

Congratulations, you deserve it!
I've been eating these dogs (white dogs specifically) since they opened, and they are, BY FAR, the absolute best dogs I've ever had (NY dogs included). I've eaten at all the Byrons', and they all offer great food (try the Italian Beef and the Pizza) and different ambiances.
Make sure to go on your next visit to the windy city!

My favorite part about Byron's is the way the food is "assembled." The workers ask the cusotmer what--and how much--"stuff" he or she wants on the sandwich. It's also a little stand-up comedy, and a really good way of having fun with the people who serve you.
I worked there for many years, and I miss it.

Mike and Ann- you go! You remember crazy lady? You have the best hot dogs around. Hope to see you soon.


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 9, 2010 1:31 PM.

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