Letter from the Editor: The Big 50 Vol: 120

May 2015

This year, we’re celebrating the fourth class of fiercely talented Chicago Rising Stars. We’re also celebrating a major milestone for our company. This group of chefs, artisans, restaurateurs, and beverage professionals make up StarChefs’ 50th class of Rising Stars. Since 2003, more than 800 culinary professionals have become a part of this family, this community of inspiring, hard-working men and women.

We couldn’t have been more excited to share the freshest crop of winners at the Lincoln Park Zoo on June 8 at the Rising Stars Gala. Those chefs are emerging from one of the most exciting culinary markets in the country. Unlike its coastal counterparts, young chefs in Chicago can afford to go out on their own. Rents in Avondale and on Diversey Avenue start below $2,000 a month (you read that right), giving places like Parachute, Fat Rice, and Cellar Door Provisions the creative freedom to take risks and make soulful, personal food.

The city, and its affordable real estate, have long nurtured a healthy artisan culture, but the last few years have witnessed an explosion of craftsmen and women. Since 2014, 28 breweries have opened, sparking an identifiable fourth wave of distinct brew houses. Up-and-coming roasters, such as Metric, Halfwit, and Dark Matter, are setting the groundwork to infiltrate an Intelligentsia-dominated market. We tasted at a greater number of independent charcuterie operations in Chicago than in any city in the country—’nduja might as well be a fifth food group. And in the nation’s breadbasket, a group of passionate bakers, chefs, distillers, and farmers are supporting the emergence of an artisan milling scene that’s set to revolutionize the way Chicagoans, and the country, understand and consume grains.

In Chicago's pastry community, creativity is rampant—from this year’s winners Greg Mosko and Anna Posey to past Rising Star Dana Cree, who’s teaching her pastry cooks how to stretch beyond their iPhones for inspiration. If outstanding pastry is abundant in Chi-town, so are tiki cocktails, shots, fried chicken, sushi, barbecue, tasting menus, and fine wines. It’s a big city, with a welcoming community, waiting to serve you. (Be sure to get the full story on Chicago in the Rising Stars Magazine!)

Antoinette Bruno
Will Blunt
Managing Editor