Franks 'N' Dawgs
Joe Doren is the Chef of Franks ‘N’ Dawgs, who along with owner Alexander Brunacci, are elevating hot dogs to gourmet fare at their Lincoln Park restaurant. A Michigan native, Doren attended and graduated from the New England Culinary Institute (NECI). While studying at NECI, Doren interned at High Cotton restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina which is where his fine dining career began. “The emphasis at High Cotton was showcasing in-season ingredients. It’s a philosophy which I believe very strongly in:”
The lure of the Midwest was too great and after graduating from NECI, Doren moved to Chicago where he worked under Mike Sheerin at Blackbird. Doren not only benefited under the tutelage of Sheerin but also gained lots of experience in hand crafting sausages. “Little did I know back then that I would be crafting sausages on a daily basis”, explains Doren with a sly grin and a sparkle in his eyes. “Blackbird and Mike were both beneficial to me. The creative use of simple ingredients and the modern twist of traditional preparations were real eye openers.”
Prior to heading up the kitchen at Franks ‘N’ Dawgs, Doren worked at Sixteen under Alexander’s brother, Frank Brunacci. “Frank has been an incredible mentor. His balance of both flavors and textures as well as the use of Asian spices and herbs are being put to good use at Franks ‘N’ Dawgs”. Doren’s enthusiasm on Franks ‘N’ Dawgs premise is very evident. “I became a chef because I love watching the joy great food brings to people. Unfortunately, few people get to enjoy fine dining and that’s why I jumped at the chance to head up the kitchen at Franks ‘N’ Dawgs”. “I loved that Alexander was bringing fine dining to the masses via street food; the price point allows us to make fine dining accessible to just about everybody.”
Doren deconstructed all components of the hot dog spending significant time on the bun. “Getting the bun right was very important as it had to hold up to the robust & diverse flavors we’re using in our sandwiches.” “We knew what we wanted; finding it was the challenge…”. The time and effort has paid off handsomely with many restaurant reviewers being impressed with the lightness, buttery texture and delicate crispness from the artisanal bun being used at Franks ‘N’ Dawgs. The sausages have also gained much praise. “We start by using prime cuts of meat – in other words, we’re using the types of cuts that would be served up in a fine dining establishment.” Our cuts are so lean that we have to add fat to our sausages; but the extra effort is worth it as the quality of the meats as well as the freshness of our sausages are very evident with your first bite.”
Doren says that their ever changing menu is heavily influenced by seasonal ingredients and they use local ingredients when possible. “We even have our own herb garden – it doesn’t get any fresher or local than that!”.