Monday, January 25, 2010

Exciting dining options in Chicago for the FENI Summit

12th Annual Foodservice Educators Network International (FENI) Educators Summit
February 12 to 15 in Chicago

Delicious dining
Chicago is a foodie haven with nationally recognized, cutting-edge dining--and thus the perfect location for the 12th Annual FENI Summit! Since the FENI Summit falls over Valentine's Day weekend, we suggest you make your evening restaurant reservations now to ensure you can dine at your top picks! For suggestions, check out Yelp, Open Table or Chicago magazine's "The Hot List."

One great option is located in our host hotel, the Hotel Allegro: At 312 Chicago (312-696-2420), chef Luca Corazzina whips up his fresh and local take on contemporary Italian cuisine--like salsiccia d'agnello (grilled house-made lamb sausage with apple mostarda and watercress) and pappardelle with slow-braised pork shoulder, porcini mushrooms and Parmesan.

A few of the items at our silent auction on Saturday of FENI (Feb. 13, from 9 a.m. to noon) are restaurant gift certificates! Read on to whet your appetite and get ready to bid for a good cause, the For the Love of Chocolate Scholarship Foundation for pastry arts education.

Atwood Café (donated by Kimpton Hotels). At the corner of Washington and State streets in the historic Hotel Burnham, visitors can experience fine-dining and homemade desserts in the rich Art Deco atmosphere of Atwood Café. The café offers diners executive chef Heather Terhune's contemporary interpretations of classic American cuisine, from grainy mustard white wine-braised rabbit and Chinese five spice pan-seared duck breast to fried fresh peach pie and warm tart cherry dumpling with lemon curd gelato. Located at 1 W. Washington Street, Chicago. Open daily. Reservations are accepted. Call (312) 368-1900 or visit

South Water Kitchen (donated by Kimpton Hotels). Even if you're not from Chicago, you'll instantly feel like a Midwesterner when you step into the warmly lit, intimate atmosphere at South Water Kitchen. Executive chef Chris Lateano hopes to make diners feel at home with his playful, Midwestern take on regional American cooking. He offers items such as grilled bavette steak with blue cheese custard potatoes, potted chicken liver paté with house-made peach mustard and pan-roasted arctic char with crispy pretzel dumplings. Located at 225 N. Wabash Ave. Open daily. Reservations are accepted. Call (312) 236-9300 or visit

Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants (donated by the French Pastry School). Whether you're craving seafood and steaks with a view, Milanese-style risotto and pasta, classic American fare right on bustling Rush Street or wood-fired pizza, veal and uniquely Italian pasta dishes in the heart of Little Italy, Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants can satiate you. Tantalizing restaurant selections are located throughout Chicagoland to suit almost any taste and budget. Restaurant concepts include Tavern on Rush, Tuscany, Phil Stefani's 437 Rush and Riva on Navy Pier. For more information, visit

And just a friendly reminder to make your reservations at the Hotel Allegro (800-546-7866) by this Friday (Jan. 29) to receive the special FENI Summit room rate of $109 per night! Mention "FENI Summit" when reserving.

Almost Famous Chef Competition expands search

The eighth annual S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition is under way as international culinary students vie for a spot in the finals competition, taking place March 5 to 8 at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone in Napa Valley, Calif. This is the first year S.Pellegrino has expanded its search outside the United States and Canada to include culinary students from Italy, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

In February, S. Pelligrino will name the 11 regional winners to be flown to the finals. They will compete in three categories: The Mystery Basket, The Signature Dish and The People's Choice. The overall winner will win the title of Almost Famous Chef, up to $20,000 in prizes and a paid apprenticeship from one of the participating chef judges. This year's judges include Rick Moonen of RM Seafood in Las Vegas, Ralph Pagano of and celebrity chef Nick Stellino. Last year's winner, David Awad (pictured, below, at the 2009 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef final competition), is currently working at Alto in New York City, which recently received a Michelin star.
For more information, visit or