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June 2014

Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet hosts

A Tribute to Charlie Trotter presented by

American Express®

Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet is honored to announce an exclusive, newly added dinner to the 2014 event lineup: A Tribute to Charlie Trotter, presented by American Express®. On Saturday, September 27, 2014, many of the world's finest chefs - including many of Chef Trotter's protégés and dearest friends - will gather at the magnificent Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago for a rare, unforgettable dinner to honor the world-renowned culinary legend and his indelible impact on the hospitality industry. This dinner marks the first large-scale fundraising event held in Chef Trotter's hometown and benefits Charlie Trotter's Culinary Education Foundation.

Participating toques include some of the world's most successful and celebrated chefs, each of whom expressed deep gratitude in contributing to this once-in-a-lifetime event.

"Like many chefs who had the honor of working alongside Charlie, my life is forever transformed by his impact," said Chef Graham Elliot. "His passion and dedication is instilled in the community of chefs who worked with and knew him well."

The evening's illuminati include:

Sergi Arola, Sergi Arola Gastro
Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/XOCO
Graham Elliot, graham elliot/g.e.b.
Della Gossett, Spago
Thomas Lents, Sixteen
Matthias Merges, Yusho/A10
Masaharu Morimoto, Japonais
Rick Tramonto, Restaurant R’evolution

The dinner features exceptional wines from Terlato Wines paired by four Master Sommeliers: Serafin Alvarado, Alpana Singh, Joe Spellman and Larry Stone. Each had the extraordinary opportunity to work with or know Chef Trotter throughout their careers and credit his knowledge and passion for wine as inspirational to the pursuit of their craft.

"Chef Trotter placed Chicago at the vanguard of the culinary world, training many of its finest chefs and industry leaders - inspiring everyone he touched along the way. It is only fitting that we pay homage to his many contributions during Chicago Gourmet weekend," said Illinois Restaurant Association President and CEO Sam Toia. "We can't envision a more exceptional group to present a tribute dinner that both champions and propels his legacy."

The evening benefits Charlie Trotter's Culinary Education Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that, since 1999, has worked with Chicago-area youth to promote the enthusiastic quest for education and an interest in cooking and food.

The event will showcase an elegant, 6-course seated dinner in the hotel's stunning Grand Ballroom at 7:30 p.m., preceded by a welcome reception at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $500 per person and available for purchase at

A Tribute to Charlie Trotter is presented by American Express and sponsors include Chicago Gourmet, Illinois Restaurant Association, Southern Wine and Spirits of Illinois, Terlato Wines, and Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago. The event media partner is CS. Other partners include Supreme Lobster, Mariano's, Allen Brothers Steaks, and Vosges.


Government Relations Update

An ordinance co-sponsored by 22 aldermen was introduced at City Council last month to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. When the ordinance was introduced, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s floor leader Alderman Patrick O’Connor said the City Council would consider the bill after the Mayor’s Minimum Wage Working Group released a report. The working group, which includes aldermen, labor leaders, and business representatives from the Illinois Retail Merchants, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and IRA President Sam Toia, had 45 days to issue a final report including recommended real wage increases for minimum wage employees and tipped employees. That report is due next week. Please go on line and voice your opinion to the Minimum Wage Working Group at

Under the proposed measure, large employers (annual revenue over $50 million), the minimum wage shall be:

A. Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this chapter, $12.50 per hour;
B. Beginning one year after the effective date of this chapter, $15.00 per hour.

Under the proposed measure, mid and small sized employers (annual revenue under $50 million), the minimum wage rate shall be:

A. Beginning one year and ninety days after the effective date, $12.00 per hour;
B. Beginning two years after the effective date, $13.00 per hour;
C. Beginning three years after the effective date, $14.00 per hour;
D. Beginning four years after the effective date, $15.00 per hour.

Additionally, tipped employees are to receive 70 percent of the established wage rate, which is currently 60 percent. The ordinance also calls for the minimum wage to jump annually based on cost of living adjustment increases defined by the Consumer Price Index.

The IRA is opposed to the rapid acceleration of the minimum wage and the IRA is working to save the tip credit. It is important our elected officials know the impact this legislation would have on Chicago’s businesses. Please contact your Alderman today to voice your opposition. Click here to find your Alderman.

For more information, please contact Andy Peters at 312-380-4134 or


NRA IRA Political Reception

The NRA and IRA held a Political Reception on May 19, 2014 during the National Restaurant Show. Former IRA Chairman Jay Stieber hosted the event at Studio Paris. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, and The Signature Room at the 95th supported the event at the highest level. The funds raised at the event supports advocacy and provides the opportunity to support candidates who understand the issues affecting the industry in the 2014 and 2015 elections.

Thank you to everyone who supported the event!


Q&A With Ryan McCaskey

The IRA recently sat down with Ryan McCaskey, chef / proprietor of Acadia in the South Loop, to talk about the James Beard Awards coming to Chicago, Ryan's vision for the future, and more.

Acadia has received many accolades, including a Michelin Star and a James Beard Award nomination. To what do you attribute this success? Where do you go from here?

I think experience has had a lot to do with Acadia's success. I've been in the industry for 23 years and have worked at 17 restaurants. Every aspect of the restaurant industry is different and I've been fortunate to work in all the positions and 'worn all the hats', so to speak.

Looking ahead, we will try to continue to evolve Acadia. Also, I'm looking to do a more casual spot in the future.

Your personality is big, exciting, and life loving. How does the theme of Acadia match your personality?

(Laughter). Acadia is high-end, and we try to do things right, but it's is also high-end without pretension. And that's important to us. We're approachable, and the theme of the restaurant reflects that. I like to have fun outside of my professional life and incorporate that attitude into Acadia as well. At the restaurant we've done Oktoberfest, a pig roast, had bands and DJs play. We make Acadia an approachable atmosphere and that is important.

What are your thoughts on the James Beard Awards moving to Chicago next year?

Inevitable, I think, and am really glad to see the recognition and notoriety the James Beard Awards will bring to Chicago. It is well deserved. Ultimately, I would love to see a James Beard House open in Chicago. Why not? It would continue the evolution of the James Beard Foundation. The Beard House does great work and opening other houses in Chicago, or San Francisco, or Napa would be a perfect continuation of their work.

With the notoriety JBF brings to Chicago, I would like to see more fine dining restaurants open up in the City. There is a lot of variety and diversity throughout Chicago, and that has been great for the City. More fine dining would be a great step for Chicago as well.

What is the biggest challenge of becoming a restaurateur? Biggest reward?

One of the biggest challenges is time is eaten up so quickly. My morning is very busy, I like to take a short break mid-morning, and then the rest of the day, afternoon, and into the evening I am at the restaurant. I leave anywhere between 11:30 at night and 2:00am. I knew it would be a lot of time, but it is busy!

One of the greatest rewards has been recognition from my peers on Acadia. I've had members of other restaurant groups congratulate me on Acadia's achievements, and it really brings a sense of pride to know that. I have enjoyed the evolution of Acadia and for other chefs in Chicago to take note of it has been great.

What would your last meal consist of?

My last meal. I really like fried chicken. It's one of my favorites. Vietnamese Pho Soup as well. Or even pizza; I've loved it since I was a kid. Can I choose all three?


IRAEF Update

ProStart Launches New Hospitality Training

On May 28, 2014, ProStart students interested in Hospitality Management careers attended a new training provided by Washburne Culinary Institute. The full day of training started with Instructor Asha Matthew providing a lecture on hospitality basics, which was followed by students shadowing the staff in their student-run Sikia Restaurant. Following the training, ProStart students worked during service with their shadows. Students also had the opportunity to rotate to the back-of-the-house.

Juarez Student Recognition Event Celebrates 1 YEAR in ProStart and with sponsor HMS Host

On May 29, 2014, over 80 students and parents attended the year-end event to recognize the commitment and dedication of Juarez juniors and seniors participating in the ProStart program. In December, the HMS Host partnership was announced, as was a new student recognition program with the objective of creating a culture of success in Juarez Culinary. High achieving juniors received special black chef coats and chef pants while graduating seniors received a Mercer knife kit for college, both provided by HMS Host. Other students prepared hors’doeuvres for the guests.


Don't Miss It

June 9 - 13: Taste of Chicago

This year, 35 restaurants will be participating in the Taste of Chicago five–day festival. There will also be 13 restaurants participating as pop-ups (1 - 2 day vendors) and 17 food trucks. New restaurants include SpritzBurger, The Savoy, and Mayan Sol Latin Grill. Returning favorites include Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen, Lou Malnati's, and Eli's Cheesecake. The event runs July 9 - 13 in Grant Park. Click here for more information.

August 6: IRA Golf Classic

Enjoy a day of 18 holes of golf (including cart), networking, silent auction, raffle, and a wide array of fantastic food and beverages.

Please visit our Golf Classic page for more information. If you have questions regarding sponsorship packages or donations, please contact Tom Kokinakos at 312.226.7611 ext. 811 or  


News & Notes

Denny's in Joliet Awarded Prestigious LEED Green Building Certification

In June, Joe and Susan Terrell were recognized for their restaurant, Denny's in Joliet, earning LEED certification, making it one of a few dozen eateries worldwide to be so recognized.

According to the United States Green Building Council, the restaurant at 2531 Plainfield Road is the first restaurant in Will County to earn the certification. A LEED certification recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. Of the 20,000 buildings in the world that are LEED-certified, only 38 are restaurants.

"We have embraced the green building guidelines," IRA Board Member Joe Terrell said. "It is important to me, as a grandfather, to do more than leave this planet as we found it."

Joe estimates he is saving $20,000 per year in utility charges.

Congratulations to Joe and Susan Terrell on achieving the highest standard of excellence in green building!


New Members

The Association is pleased to welcome:

Anthony's Italian Ice
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Breakwater Chicago
Elephant & Castle
Franco's Cucina
Houndstooth Saloon
Moon Meals
Nancy's Pizza
Quencht LLC
Revamp Social
Stocks & Blondes
Temple Bar
Uber Technologies

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