These days, what can $40 get you? How about unlimited cocktails, the new Green City Market Cookbook, and a cooking demonstration at The Chopping Block Cooking School, featuring chefs and a farmer who contributed to the cookbook. Oh yeah, and you get to sample all of the recipes and chat with them, too. No kidding, this is how Nate and I recently spent our Monday night!
Walking into The Chopping Block, a recreational cooking school, is like foodie heaven, complete with a boutique kitchen store to shop for items used in demonstrations and classes, and three classroom areas for classes and private parties.
We bumped into my friend Gina who works there, then our friends Britta and Dave who were also attending the class. Britta volunteers at The Green City Market, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a marketplace for purchasing sustainably grown food and to educate, promote and connect farmers and local producers directly to chefs, restaurateurs and the greater Chicago community. I’ve been to the Lincoln Park market a handful of times and loved it, it’s just kind of difficult for me to get to. So you could imagine my excitement when they recently started The Green City Market Fulton on Saturday mornings!
Back to the story: The room was busy, so we got some wine and beer and sat down with our cookbooks, not quite sure what to expect. The presentation started with a few introductions, including Beth Eccles, owner and farmer of Green Acres Farm, who spoke about her involvement with the Green City Market, and how she collaborates with local chefs. Throughout the evening, the chefs had nothing but wonderful things to say about Beth and her produce, which was really wonderful to hear.
Shelley Young, owner of The Chopping Block, started the demos by sharing her strata recipe (all of the recipes from the evening are featured in the cookbook). What was cool was that Shelley adapted her recipe for the summer, using yellow corn and squash. Sometimes I get to caught up in a recipe that I can’t even think about changing an ingredient, but the chefs that evening were really playful with their recipes, which was inspiring for this wannabe foodie. This strata was so decadent, my mouth waters just thinking about it. Very creamy and delicious but packed with veggies, too.
Next were Joshua Kulp and Christine Cikowski, chefs and owners of Honey Butter Fried Chicken, who made mini versions of their Sunday Dinner Club market burger. The burger, which they freshly ground, was simple but outstanding. The quality of the meat was so great, the burger didn’t require much seasoning before cooking. (I always add egg and breadcrumbs and sometimes veggies–not necessary!) Luckily they let us sample some right after the demo because these were too good to wait.
Lastly, Jason Hammel, co-owner of Lula Cafe, put together a lovely summer bean salad with smoked trout. Jason walked us through the steps of blanching the veggies, and properly assembling the dish. He made his own dressings, which is something I really need to start doing. This salad was so crisp and crunchy, it made me excited to visit Lula. After our move this month, I swear!
After the demonstrations were finished, the audience was allowed to sample the strata and salad, have the chefs sign their cookbooks, and chat and ask questions. It was nice to be able to get to know the chefs a little better, and hear about their involvement with the market.
Needless to say, we went home very full and truly inspired. We even picked up a cooking oil and spatula used in class. I look forward to making many of these recipes for years to come.
Green City Market
Lincoln Park (Wednesdays and Saturdays) & now Fulton Market (Saturdays only)
The Chopping Block Cooking School
222 West Merchandise Mart Plaza