By Onur Usmen (turkob)
Mariscos El Veneno
I am thrilled to announce LTHForum.com’s Great Neighborhood Restaurants and Resources (GNRs) Class of 2014. This year’s class features unprecedented geographic diversity to go along with our regular diet of culinary diversity.
Presenting: 2014 GNRS
As we celebrate LTHForum.com’s tenth anniversary (this is only the ninth class of GNRs, since there were no awards in 2010), the GNR program continues to represent all that makes the board so special. The spirit of the community leads us to restaurants and shops where we can interact directly with the people who dedicate themselves to producing great food as enthusiastically as we seek it out and post about it for all to enjoy. This year’s class embodies that spirit and continues to make the GNRs the best resource for anyone seeking great food in Chicagoland.
By Kari Lloyd (apopquizkid)
Back in my youth, approximately another lifetime ago, working in restaurants was one of the many ways I earned my keep. I did everything from dishwashing to waitressing and working on the line in the kitchen. I also cooked in my own restaurant just outside of London, sharing the stove with a fair few entertaining individuals. Once restaurants are in your blood, getting out can feel a little like a betrayal. Or detox.
Years later, though I now make my living as a laugh-in-the-face-of-death freelance writer, a healthy portion of my friends are still in the trade. A favored post-work activity for restaurant lifers is the post-work bitch session, where they’re all too willing to share, in hilarious detail, the day’s problems, customers and the little complaints that irk them on a daily basis. Despite my time in the restaurant game, most of the stories still frankly amaze me.
While the customer-facing branch of this army, the servers, get a lot of coverage regarding the bothersome properties of the great dining public, the chefs don’t. I began to wonder what diners do that might make a chef blind with rage – or even just ever-so-slightly annoyed. Seeing as I’ve been out of the life for so long, I spoke to many chef pals and asked that question, and while everyone had their own stories and irritations, there were a few overriding themes that nearly all mentioned.
Editor’s Note: This article is the third in a series by Alan Lake, all about home cooks, their stories and recipes. Read part one here for a description of what Home Cookin’ is all about.
Once upon a time in a restaurant in Palm Beach, a manager came back to the kitchen, saying to me, “You’ve got to meet this guy out there. What an ass, getting all bent out of shape over nothing. He reminds me of you.”
Our high-rolling two-top, consisting of a man and his wife, had ordered some vintage port (a Fonseca ’77) after their meal. In walking it over to pour it tableside, my manager friend inadvertently shook the bottle, which disturbed the sediment, thus serving them glasses filled with it. So the man busted her on it, and rightfully so. She came and got me to smooth things over, and he and I have been friends ever since. At the time, none of us knew that this is a guy that knows his sh*t – that’s lived high and low, through good and bad, all over the world.