Chef Graham Elliot grills for a Michigan Avenue crowd

Food for thought with Graham Elliot

Just in time for summer, acclaimed chef Graham Elliot and surprised Chicagoans on May 15 by hosting a happy hour in Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan Avenue). Partygoers were treated to drinks from a new variety pack from the West Loop-based beverage company plus reinvented backyard food—delicious GrahamBurgers, corn on the cob and strawberry shortcake.

Equally comfortable on TV (he’s a “MasterChef” and “MasterChef Junior” judge), in front of live crowds (culinary director of Lollapalooza since 2007) and in his eponymous Chicago restaurants, the chef/owner of Randolph Street’s Graham Elliot Bistro brought his love of outdoor grilling to the urban backyard.

If you’d like to try your hand at Graham’s grilling recipes, click here. He offers a tip: When grilling burgers, fresh meat is better than frozen, but frozen patties have one advantage—a consistent thickness.

Graham became the youngest chef in the U.S. to receive four stars from two major publications (Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune) and has garnered several prestigious James Beard Foundation award nominations. As a “Navy” brat, he’s lived in all 50 states; however, he calls Chicago home and recently bought a house in the Morgan Park neighborhood.

What’s he hungry for? “Music, politics and fighting for the underdog,” he says. “And constantly pushing the envelope.” In the future, Graham hopes to open a fourth Chicago restaurant and looks forward to his October cookbook launch.

As the grilling began and guests mingled, I asked Graham who he’d invite to a fantasy dinner party. He’d serve universally pleasing bread and wine, to James Brown, Thomas Jefferson, Jesus, Malcolm X and Ronald Reagan. Music, diversity, Americana, politics and history…delicious.

A consummate entertainer—through food, music, television and more—Graham suggested Vince Vaughn as the perfect actor to play him if a movie about his life is made. Sounds appetizing!






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