Chicago Culinary Museum Inducts Chef Priscila Satkoff Into Chefs Hall of Fame

On November 16th, 2011 The Chicago Culinary Museum hosted a gala at the JW Marriot Hotel to celebrate the 2011 Chefs Hall of Fame inductee, Priscila Satkoff. Satkoff, chef and proprietor of Salpicón! restaurant in Old Town, was awarded the honor of becoming the sixth member of the Chefs Hall of Fame. Past inductees include Charlie Trotter, Jimmy Bannos, Rick Bayless, Carrie Nahabedian and Art Smith.

Priscila Satkoff opened Salpicón! in 1995. A native of Colonia San Angel, Mexico City, Satkoff says she is “obsessed with educating the American public on the true art form of Mexican cuisine and the freshness of its flavors and dishes.”  Clearly, she has done this and done it better than almost anyone else in the city.  Both Satkoff and her restaurant have garnered numerous culinary awards and on the 16th she accepted the latest of them, this time from her friends and colleagues in the industry.  One of the most telling statements made during the evening was from world-renown chef Charlie Trotter who said, “I am so in awe and in love with her creations that when I invite the great European chefs to Chicago, I invariably take them to Salpicón! for a taste of something special and better still something they would never see in their homeland.”  High praise!

In an evening where Chicago’s world-renown chefs honor one of their own, you can only imagine how wonderful the food might be.  On November 16th, the attendees were certainly not disappointed.  The evening’s offerings featured items from the restaurants of recent Hall of Fame inductee including Charlie Trotter’s, Heaven on Seven, Frontera Grill, NAHA, Table fifty-two, The French Pastry School and of course Salpicón!.

To my great surprise and joy, however, the Chicago Culinary Museum truly lived up to their educational mission and all of the food was prepared and served by college culinary students!  The magnificent food and presentation was engineered by students from Joliet Junior College, College of DuPage, Washburne Culinary, Elgin Community College, Le Cordon Bleu and The French Pastry School.  What a great experience for the students, but also a wonderful experience for the attendees who had a chance to sample world-class food while participating in the training of Chicago’s next generation of great chefs.

The menu for the evening was extensive, but to give you a sampling we had the following:

Salpicón!: Braised beef brisket with green mole, baby spinach, chipotle honey dressing / Salmon with papaya tequila sauce and grapefruit corn salsa

Charlie Trotter’s: Mediterranean inspired beef rib-eye, quinoa and black olive vinaigrette / Tuna crab roll, avocado, black sesame seed vinaigrette

Heaven on Seven: Crab cakes with Cajun remoulade / Chicken gumbo

Frontera Grill: Shrimp ceviche Yucateco / Smoked chicken and chorizo hash over roasted corn masa cake

NAHA: Slow cooked pork bell, truffle, wild mushroom risotto, braised kale / Beef tenderloin, fresh arugula salad, parmesan cheese, balsamic reduction

Table fifty-two: Steak & Oprah eggs, biscuits and gravy / Asian pork

The French Pastry School: Hand dipped chocolate candies

Standouts for me, personally, were the Tuna crab roll from Charlie Trotter’s, the Chicken gumbo from Heaven on Seven and the Smoked chicken and chorizo hash from Frontera Grill.  Despite having favorites, not a single menu item rang false for me.  Some were certainly more “my taste” than others, but everything I sampled was a perfect portion size and was artfully presented and well-prepared.

Special mention should be made of the desserts which were definitely a perfect conclusion to the entire culinary experience!  For those fans of Monty Python, the amazing hand-dipped chocolates from The French Pastry School very nearly became a “wafer-thin mint” moment.

Founded in 2006, The Chicago Culinary Museum’s mission is to celebrate and promote culinary excellence and education in Chicago. Through their hard work, dedication and donations, the a 501(c)(3) charitable organization will create a museum that houses an interactive learning center, culinary artifacts, library and commonplace for the hospitality industry. The Chicago Culinary Museum will be located at Washburne, the oldest culinary institute in the nation.  The mission of the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame is to promote and celebrate Chicago as a Culinary Mecca.  For more information on the museum, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.


Video by Theresa Carter






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