Back Yard Tea and BBQs

Hopefully by now we are all getting ready for our Fourth of July BBQs! Our friends from LeaderBar gave us some #burgerlove and topping tips, so any spread can look like it’s done by an expert grill master.

We already got the party started with the upbeat crew at You and Me This Morning on WCIU – and if you didn’t see it live – you can catch it here. Matt Roan was spinning, Corri McFadden was glamming-up and host Melissa Forman and I were getting the Sailor Jerry cocktails ready!

The El Diablo is the spiciest burger on the planet.  If you like HOT – this summer add some spicy pepper jack cheese, habanero relish, jalapeño, grilled onions and sriracha mayo to your burger. On the menu – this comes with a WARNING.

Baked goat cheese in marinara, served with crostini. A crowd pleaser. I might make this for a party I am going to tomorrow.

Todd Rubin from LeaderBar and I celebrating with some Sailor Jerry Backyard Tea.

Au, Yes!

I was a little late to the party – Au Cheval has been open for months.  And everyone has been raving. The best part of these pics is that they really speak for themselves.  The liberal use of herbs is a bonus.20120628-110543.jpg

Salmon Rilette with brioche, a perfect egg and pickles.


THE PERFECT BURGER – with two patties of heaven.


Super crispy frites with garlic aioli.


LOVE.  On a bun.

Gemini Bistro

Burgers Burgers and more Burgers! Burger Bonanza part two is up on dishIT! with Amanda Puck on  Chef Jason Paskewitz of Gemini Bistro let me behind the scenes for tips on how he makes the best burger.  The Gemini Burger – prime beef, smoked Neuske Bacon, Swiss Cheese on a potato bun with truffle fries.  The best trick I learned – add the cheese on top of the burger in the last moment of cooking and top it with the bun.  Pull it off and place it on the bottom bun.  And by the time you are ready to sink your teeth into it – it’s melted to perfection and the bun doesn’t move around.

The Truffle fries are crispy and full of truffle flavor, and sprinkled with parmesan.




Indie Burger

If you like all things organic and your beef grass fed – Indie Burger is your place for Burger Nirvana.


The all grass fed beef is portioned before they get flattened and griddled.

And they even make their own beef bacon, perfectly cooked until extra crispy.



The fries are fried crispy in organic oil – and topped with a seasoning combo that will leave you craving more.


And here it is, the Indie Burger, complete with special sauce.  Even their shakes and toppings are organic.  And the coffee La Colombe.

Indie Burger.

See it here on

ROCKIT Burger Bar

On in May – we are doing two episodes on one of America’s favorite foods, the burger.  It is National Burger Month after all.  One of the stops was at the newly concepted Rockit Burger Bar, where partner Arturo Gomez and and Chef Amanda Downing helped us get our burger on with these ones, piled high creative toppings.


The MacDaddy – black angus patty with braised short rib, mac & cheese and Yukon waffle fries.

The Farmhouse – black angus patty with BBQ pulled pork, applewood smoked bacon and curly fries.

The HOTTIE – black angus patty, breaded stuffed jalapenos, pepper jack, ghost pepper aioli and fries.

Chef Amanda Downing does an impressive job with towering presentations, and each burger is paired with a unique flavored aioli.

Rockit Burger Bar.

See it here on

And for the record – partner Arturo Gomez said the only way to eat a burger, is to just pick it up and BITE RIGHT IN!


Burger Kick-Off

I challenged myself the other night to make the best burger to date.  There was no expectation, just rush into the store, get all the ingredients and be home before kick-off. 

This one was a monster – and perfect when watching the Bears game on Sunday.  It was a one-stop-shop at Mariano’s for all the ingredients, including a mix & match six pack of beer.

Turkey burger with Lillie’s Q Carolina BBQ sauce, Jack Daniels caramelized onions, sliced sharp cheddar and apple wood smoked bacon on a toasted Labriola pretzel bun.

Holler.  Got a great burger recipe?  LMK!

Bandera Wins Best Burger at The Hamburger Hop 2011

This post is very ironic for me as I was just at Bandera last weekend  – for the burger which I think is one of the best burgers around, and was telling everyone about it.  Not that it’s crazy, not that it gets served with extensive accoutrements.  It is simply delicious.  Allen Brothers ground beef (always a plus), soft french roll, lettuce, tomato, onion and already dressed with a bit of mayo, mustard and ketchup and some thinly sliced pickle.  This was taken at Bandera last weekend.

If there was a grilled artichoke competition – they would win too.

They are first steamed tender, then thrown on the hot grill for char, and served with remoulade.

The judges picked the winner – and the “people’s choice” was won by Palmer Place.

To see more on the Hamburger Hop participants and judges as the kick-off to Chicago Gourmet –

All the chefs wowed us – Rick Gresh from David Burke’s Primehouse, the team from Jake Melnicks, Ryan Pitts from RL, Kevin Hickey from the Four Seasons (loved the bellini milkshakes), and Rey Villalobos from Table Fifty-Two. It was fun to see everyone, and meet the Bon Appetit team.

I’ll be there emceeing demos today and tomorrow – hope to see you all there!

sola burger love

After seeing Carol Wallack at the Green City BBQ I realized I had not been by sola yet to try her new menu items.  And since it is in walking distance from The RV (Roscoe Village) The Bomb and I ventured over there on a hot Saturday night, only after trying an assortment of beers and brats at Four Moon. (Would have had pics, but it was a bit too dark in there).

The burger at sola is magnificent.  It is layered and layered with rich flavors.  Wagyu.  Cambozola cheese, a triple cream with a slight vein of blue running through, giving it perfect meltability and earthiness, sharp arugula, crispy bacon and lightly caramelilzed onions.  She has perfecting this for 20 years and it is PERFECT.  EVERY.  TIME.

And Brussel sprouts, lighlty fried, crispy and salty.  We have a thing for brussel sprouts.  Love.