On September 19, 2012 The Chicago Culinary Museum hosted a gala at the Hilton Chicago to celebrate the 2012 Chefs Hall of Fame inductees, Chef Graham Elliot and Pastry Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer. Elliot was awarded the distinct honor of "Chef of the Year" and Pfeiffer, the first pastry chef to be inducted, was named "Pastry Chef of the Year." Past inductees include renowned chefs Charlie Trotter, Jimmy Bannos, Rick Bayless, Carrie Nahabedian, Art Smith and Priscilla Satkoff.
The Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, proclaimed September 19 as "Chef Graham Elliot Day" and September 20 as "Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer Day" in anticipation of their induction into The Chicago Culinary Museum's Chef's Hall of Fame.
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 September 19th, the attendees were certainly not disappointed. The evening’s offerings featured items from the restaurants of recent Hall of Fame inductee including Table fifty-two, The French Pastry School, Salpicón!, and (of course), Graham Elliot.
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 some superb offerings from the restaurants of the two inductees. From Graham Elliot, we were served homemade ‘twinkies’ with a side of Caesar salad and a foie gras lollipop. In addition, they dished up a plate of truffled popcorn with Elliot’s take on the traditional corned beef sandwich.
From the French Pastry School, we were able to sample an array of hand dipped chocolates, truffles, and some phenomenal pastry! If you’re in the market for superb pastry, look no farther than this amazing school.
Chef Graham Elliot is a "Navy brat" who has traveled the world and all fifty states. He's a creative culinary wizard with an innate ability to successfully juxtapose four-star cuisine with humor, wit and “out-of-the-box” artistry. At age 27, he became the youngest Four Star Chef to be named in any major U.S. city and was named one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chef” in 2004. In recent years has accrued several prestigious accolades, including multiple James Beard Foundation nominations as well as being named one of Crain's Chicago Business’ list of "40 Under Forty", putting him in an elite club that includes luminaries such as Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
At the age of 30, Graham signed the leave and began work on his first restaurant, aptly named Graham Elliot, a restaurant that would not only bear his name but become an extension of his passionate personality, embodying his core belief that cooking is an artistic, creative outlet. In December 2010 Graham opened the fast-casual sandwich concept simply titled "Grahamwich" in Chicago’s River North area. Grahamwich has become a go-to spot for Chicagoans and visitors alike seeking inspired sandwiches, homemade sodas on tap, truffle popcorn, artisan soft serves and French press coffee to-go. In May, Chef Graham Elliot opened his third Chicago restaurant, g.e.b., offering a seasonally focused menu using old world techniques with three ingredients or less per dish. Located in the "West Loop" of Chicago’s fabled Randolph Street, the bistro will rely on local farmers and markets and do as little to the product as possible. g.e.b. offers lunch, dinner, brunch and an outdoor patio in the summer time.
“A lifetime is not long enough to learn pastry. One always needs to keep working on mastering this ever changing craft. That’s what makes pastry so fascinating – it’s a never-ending story.”
Chef Pfeiffer's exceptional career began with an apprenticeship in Alsace at the famous Jean Clauss Pâtisserie. Following his apprenticeship in Strasbourg, Pfeiffer went on to establish himself as a leading figure in the art of pastry working with some world-renowned families and establishments. Some of these include the Royal Family in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the Sultan of Brunei; the Hyatt Regency, Hong Kong; a prestigious pastry shop in Palo Alto, California; and both the Fairmont and Sheraton hotels in Chicago, Illinois. These experiences led Chef Pfeiffer to teach and consult in numerous of the most prominent properties and companies worldwide, such as the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas, and the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Texas. In 1995, Jacquy Pfeiffer along with Sébastien Canonne, founded The French Pastry School where their team is devoted to imparting excellence. Today, The French Pastry School is considered one of the leading pastry institutions in the world. Jacquy Pfeiffer is presently the AcademicDean for Student Affairs.
CHICAGO CULINARY MUSEUM
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.