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The Official Publication of the Illinois Restaurant Association
JULY 2016

Let's Taco ‘Bout Tacos at Chicago Gourmet


In September, Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet returns to Millennium Park and there’s a new, one-night-only fiesta in town: The Tao of Tacos. Dreamed up by award-winning Mexican food connoisseur and Chicago Gourmet Host Chef, Rick Bayless, the event will showcase diverse tacos from leading chefs in a range of cuisines. Think Mediterranean, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and more. Just when you thought you had tried every taco in Chicago, Rick Bayless comes along and rocks your world.

"What we’re really doing at this event is letting some amazing chefs express their interpretations of the taco, be they humble or high end,” explains Chef Bayless. “I can’t really think of a better party, can you?”

The global taco extravaganza will be held Saturday, September 24 from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Harris Theater Rooftop. Renowned chefs representing cuisines from around the world will unite to present their take on the taco – incorporating ingredients, techniques and flair that are signature to their culinary style. Guests will also enjoy cocktails from Cazadores Tequila and suds from Lagunitas Brewing Company.

Taco Masters
Using the tortilla as a blank canvas, participants will bring Chicago Gourmet’s newly introduced Food is Art! theme to life through vibrant flavors and never-before-tasted combinations. The all-star chef lineup includes:

Jimmy Bannos Jr. | The Purple Pig
Amanda Cohen | Dirt Candy, New York
Abraham Conlon | Fat Rice
Rohini Dey | Vermilion
Jose Garces | Garces Group
Jason Hammel | Lula Cafe
Joseph "JJ" Johnson | The Cecil, New York
Richard Sandoval | Richard Sandoval Restaurants
Mindy Segal | Mindy's HotChocolate
Jason Vincent | Giant
Erling Wu-Bower | Nico Osteria
Takashi Yagihashi | Slurping Turtle

The Illinois Restaurant Association is excited and proud to see our members Fat Rice, The Purple Pig, and Vermilion conquer the taco this September. Chicago Gourmet was created by the IRA to celebrate and honor both Chicago’s culinary achievements and the creative vision of the chefs, Master Sommeliers, and wine-, spirit-, and beer-makers who participate. It also spotlights Chicago as an international culinary destination via its unparalleled epicurean talent.

"I'm delighted to be a part of The Tao of Tacos and lend Vermilion's unique Indian-Latin global twist to it, blending my childhood influences with bold, blow away flavors. Brace yourself Chicago!” said Rohini Dey, Ph. D., Owner and Founder of Vermilion. “Over the years it's always been a privilege to participate in the myriad of ways the IRA actively fosters Chicago's culinary space, from Taste of Chicago to the James Beard Awards festivities, expert forums and events to promote women in culinary roles, and of course, Chicago Gourmet."

Tickets for The Tao of Tacos are on sale now at Tickets are $95 per person. Guest must be 21+ to attend.

Additional Happenings
This year, Chicago Gourmet announced an unprecedented weekend-long theme: Food Is Art! The IRA has partnered with EXPO Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago to integrate interactive components throughout Millennium Park over the weekend. The theme emphasizes the culinary arts while exploring its vibrant connections to art of many kinds – painting, graffiti, sculpture, tattoo, digital, theatre and more!

Culinary Complete Works, a component of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Shakespeare 400 celebration, will be woven into Saturday and Sunday’s Grand Cru. Each chef will present dishes inspired by the works of William Shakespeare, from Macbeth to The Taming of the Shrew – and everything in between! The Grand Cru also features tastings of elite wines from around the world, curated by Master Sommelier Serafin Alvarado of presenting sponsor Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits.

Select tickets to Chicago Gourmet are still available at Weekend Passes and Saturday Passes are sold out. The Grand Cru is a separately ticketed event at $205 per person (excluding tax) and also requires a general admission ticket to Chicago Gourmet. Attendance at the Grand Cru is limited to 400 people each day.

Produced by the Illinois Restaurant Association, title sponsor Bon Appétit magazine and presenting sponsor Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, Chicago Gourmet 2016 is one of the nation’s largest and most celebrated culinary events. With more than 200 restaurants and chefs, as well as hundreds of renowned vintners, spirit makers and premium breweries, this interactive, epicurean affair showcases many of the finest in the culinary world. It also includes a multitude of live cooking demonstrations, wine and cocktail seminars, gourmet tastings and book signings by internationally renowned chefs, Master Sommeliers, winemakers and more.

For additional information, please visit


Flavor Profile

Meet Chef Dudley Nieto from Rojo Gusano

With two openings in just one year, Mexican restaurant Rojo Gusano continues to capture the attention of locals and visitors alike. Earlier this month, Rojo Gusano was also a fan favorite Pop-Up restaurant in their first year at Taste of Chicago. We sat down with Chef Dudley Nieto to talk about his road to success.

  • Tell us a little about your history. How did you get where you are today?
    • I’ve been in this industry for more than 30 years, commanding kitchens across the United States and overseas. That experience allowed me to experiment with many different cuisines and concepts. Right now, I am at a point in my life where my passion for cooking is not only a part of myself, but also a part of my family—I’m enjoying it and having fun! The only way to get to this point is by being consistent, sincere, passionate, and full of love and energy. That is what Rojo Gusano stands for.
  • To what do you attribute your success?
    • Consistency. My job isn’t just a “job,” it’s a way of life—you have to love what you’re doing. When you fall, stand up quickly and continue without looking back. Be proud of your achievements, be humbled by your mistakes and always continue to learn. I have an excellent team at Rojo Gusano and we all share this way of thinking.
  • What is your favorite thing about Mexican cuisine?
    • I would say the original, bold statement that comes with each dish. The variety of the dishes and the examples of traditional, yet contemporary infusions really sets Mexican cuisine apart.
  • What is your biggest reward working in the restaurant industry?
    • That I love what I do and that I am free to create new recipes and concepts based on inspiration coming from every part of my life.
  • What do you see as being the most valuable resources/service that the IRA provides you?
    • The network the IRA has created and the continuous updates regarding developments in the industry. Being a member of the IRA is the most valuable thing a restaurateur can do.

  • What are you looking forward to in 2016?
    • Expanding the Rojo Gusano brand across Chicago and the many events we will participate in. All while having fun of course!
  • Do you have any advice for aspiring restaurateurs?
    • Do not ever give up. Find a concept that you love, develop it and find the necessary resources and tools to achieve it. Be creative, fearless, passionate and professional. If you love it, work for it.

For more information on Rojo Gusano, visit

Rojo Gusano
3830 W. Lawrence | Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 539-4398
Follow on Facebook: @RojoGusano
Follow on Twitter: @RojoGusano



Watch Out...and Act Now! EMV Chargebacks and Debit Card Swipe Fee Reform Repeal


As of October 1, 2015, restaurants that do not have EMV-enabled technology have been liable for fraudulent charges and chargebacks. There are several best practices restaurants can follow to protect their businesses.

In addition, efforts are underway at the national level that would allow for financial institutions to charge higher debit card swipe fees on restaurants. Learn more about how you can protect yourself from chargebacks, and tell Congress to leave debit card swipe fee reform alone!

EMV and Chargebacks

Merchants with EMV-enabled technology have the right to dispute chargebacks. However, if a merchant’s equipment is not EMV-capable, liability for chargebacks is placed on least technologically secure system – the merchant’s. It is a difficult and complicated issue to be sure, but there are several acceptance options for restaurants, and employee best practices for checking credit cards that can help limit fraudulent charges. For example, when checking a credit card during payment, employees may implement the below best practices:

  • Verify the last 4 digits of the card
  • Verify and compare the signature on the back of the card
  • Request to see a license to verify identity of the card holder
  • Closely examine the card’s size, width, color, alignment, and fonts
  • Verify CVV/CVV2/CID numbers on the front or back of cards

These effective procedures and more are detailed in an information-packed webinar created by Heartland Payment Systems and the National Restaurant Association that reviews the EMV liability shift, recommendations for restaurateurs to protect themselves, and the chargeback notification process and requirements.

Protect Debit Card Swipe Fee Reforms - Act Now!

Two pieces of legislation have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would reverse debit card swipe fee reforms passed in 2010 that protect restaurants, customers, and employees. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed in 2010 brought relief to restaurants by limiting the ability of financial institutions to charge unreasonable debit card swipe fees on many transactions. Today, debit swipe fees average between 24 and 27 cents per transaction, nearly half what it was before Dodd-Frank.

Unfortunately, some in Congress want to repeal this critical reform. If those in Congress pushing for repeal are successful, restaurants and small businesses across the country will undoubtedly see an increase in debit card swipe fees back to an average of 44 cent or more per transaction. This will drive up operational and consumer costs, which is just plain bad for business. The NRA is leading the effort to oppose the repeal of debit swipe fee reform by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling and Rep. Randy Neugebauer.

Click here and tell Congress to leave debit swipe fee reform alone!

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Matt Quinn, IRA Government Relations & Communications Manager, at (312) 380-4122 or


A La Carte

Gordon Food Service Will Sponsor All New Student Members


In a new partnership between the Illinois Restaurant Association and Gold Corporate Sponsor Gordon Food Service (GFS), we are thrilled to announce the food service provider’s sponsorship of all IRA Student Membership fees. The goal of the program is to connect with college students interested in careers in the foodservice and hospitality industries, and provide them with IRA resources that help them succeed.

Student memberships with the IRA offer countless benefits to post-secondary students. With over 30 universities and colleges in Illinois alone that have focused culinary programs, the industry needs to continue to empower and invest in the future generation. In Illinois, there are over 537,000 individuals working in the industry and another 150,000 people that service the industry in fields like law, design and marketing.

Student memberships aim to provide the future workforce with support and resources that may not be available otherwise. In addition to receiving the IRA’s weekly and monthly communications, the opportunities for networking, internships and scholarships within the member-base are incredibly valuable. Gordon Food Service is aligned with the IRA in its commitment to encouraging and supporting the next generation.

“These students are busy. They’re actively in school, studying and often times working in the industry in their time off,” explained John Willard, Director of Commercial Sales at GFS. “Joining and paying for membership fees to an important organization like the IRA might not be an option. That’s why we feel it’s so important to provide student memberships to open the door for the next generation and ensure that we’re fostering this strong group of future industry leaders.”

Since 1897, Gordon Food Service® has delivered uncompromising quality and heartfelt service for their customers. What began as a simple butter-and-egg delivery service has grown to become the largest family business in the foodservice industry by upholding the same approach for over 115 years—remaining passionately committed to the people they serve. Today, the company serves foodservice operators in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the United States and coast-to- coast in Canada. They also operate more than 170 Gordon Food Service Store® locations in the U.S., which are open to the public and provide restaurant-quality products and friendly, knowledgeable service without a membership fee. By partnering with organizations from across industries—healthcare to education, independent and chain restaurants, and event planners—Gordon Food Service helps their customers create food experiences that people choose, enjoy, and remember.

Student Memberships are available to students of a post-secondary education program within the state of Illinois. Click here and use the promo code GORDON to take advantage of this new program. Please contact Eric Fine, IRA Director of Sales & Marketing at (312) 380-4115 or for more information about IRA student memberships.



Brunch in Old Town or Pizza in Lincoln Park


Four Corners is known for neighborhood establishments that offer creative bar fare, superior service, unique design, and relaxed atmospheres. While each location is unique in menu and décor, all deliver on the Four Corners promise to provide a first-rate experience for every patron, every time.

By now, you've probably heard about Four Corners' latest opening, and first collaboration with Hogsalt, SteakBar. Located in the heart of Old Town, SteakBar is a fun take on the best that both groups have to offer—a delicious selection of food and drinks with a style all its own. 

As of this month, SteakBar is now open and taking reservations at 11am every Saturday and Sunday for weekend brunch! Menu items range from Steak and Eggs to Avocado Toast and are best paired with a $15 Mimosa Package.

Around the corner in Lincoln Park, Ranalli's, another Four Corners Tavern and a longstanding neighborhood pizza joint, offers guests classic and fresh pizzas along with a great selection of shareable cocktails, draft beers, and wines on tap.

A staple in the community, Ranalli’s expansive, outdoor and dog-friendly sidewalk cafe offers seating for 175, catering to diners looking for a place to socialize during the summer months, just steps from Lake Michigan and Lincoln Park.

With 27 TVs throughout the fluid indoor and outdoor spaces, Ranalli’s is the perfect setting for the ultimate game-day experience, proudly supporting the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. Guests can enjoy sporting events or group gatherings at the King’s Tap table, which features two beer taps, four large TVs and is adorned by a quirky mural created by local artist and image maker, Anthony Lewellen.

For more information, please visit and

SteakBar Chicago
1500 N Wells Street | Chicago, IL 60610
(773) 966-0404
Follow on Facebook: @SteakBarChicago
Follow on Instagram: @steakbarchicago
Follow on Twitter: @SteakBarChicago

Ranalli's Lincoln Park
1925 N Lincoln Ave | Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 642-4700
Follow on Facebook: @ranallisLP
Follow on Instagram: @ranallislincolnpark
Follow on Twitter: @ranallisLP

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