In the early ’90s, when Mindy Segal
was working at Metropolis 1800, chef Erwin Drechsler would take her with him to the farmers’ market. Back then it was in a high-school parking lot, and it was only on Saturdays. “There were no chefs there,” Segal remembers. “Except for us and maybe Rick Bayless.”
Despite the market’s then lack of popularity with professional chefs, Segal quickly became smitten with the notion of seasonal cooking. Now, if you want an apple dessert at her restaurant HotChocolate (1747 N Damen Ave, 773-489-1747)
, the cold months are your only chance.
“I am a flavor technician,” Segal says. “I like using the bounty of the harvest as my muse.” To that end, when she builds a recipe, she starts with an ingredient—fruits, mostly—and builds around its flavor profile. “All of my desserts are studies on the flavor [of the raw ingredients],” she says. Here are just a few places her studies have led her in the past.