Ari Bendersky is a Chicago-based lifestyle journalist who has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal magazine, Men's Journal, Thrillist, Eater, Crain’s Chicago Business, Wine Enthusiast and more. He also publishes Something Glorious with Ari Bendersky, a Substack newsletter covering food, drinks, travel, music and more.
Chicago chefs are reinventing the fine dining experience
Chicago has no shortage of high-end tasting menu restaurants. From stalwarts Alinea, Oriole and Smyth to pandemic-era hits Ever, Kasama and Esmé to now-shuttered classics Tru, Everest and Charlie Trotter’s, fine dining has long played a role in Chicago’s culinary evolution. Recently, a new crop of chefs has moved away from the hushed dining rooms and high ticket prices to embrace more casual—and sometimes more interactive—prix-fixe experiences. This opens opportunities to enjoy these once somewhat unattainable dining experiences, while also letting chefs get more creative, have fun and showcase their food more authentically. Tasting menus historically have centered around classic French technique, which many younger chefs employ. But now the cuisine, whether Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern or even a menu revolving around variations on duck, plays a starring role built upon that classic training. Chef Donald Young, who steered West Town’s Temporis to a Michelin star in 2018 (the restaurant recently added an abbreviated five-course tasting menu for $135), hosts an intimate and whimsical tasting menu experience at an undisclosed location in Uptown (guests get the address 24 to 48 hours ahead of time) twice a month. At Duck Sel, up to 18 strangers come together in a communal setting for either a $150 seven- or $225 15-course menu. Diners eat high-quality ingredients in playful dishes like an Iberico ham donut; caviar and grilled cheese with A5 Miyazaki wagyu; and duck and waffle
This app fights food waste by connecting diners with surplus eats
Have you ever thought about how much food people waste every year? Not just the scraps you may leave on your plate, but perfectly good food that restaurants, retail stores and bakeries throw out that otherwise could have been eaten. Each year, around the world, 3.5 trillion pounds of food get wasted. That’s equal to 7.2 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere annually. And we wonder why hurricanes, drought and wildfires have gotten worse? Now, imagine being able to do your part to help the climate by simply ordering dinner or a snack through an app. Sounds pretty easy, right? That’s the idea behind the global food-waste innovator Too Good To Go (TGTG), an app that connects users with businesses that have surplus food. ‘Thinking we throw away close to 40 percent of food is disgusting,’ says TGTG co-founder Lucie Basch. ‘I was shocked by that, but more shocked people aren’t talking about it. I wanted to create a solution anybody could use every day. It’s simple.’ The app launched in Denmark in 2016 and today has 44 million users across nearly 20 countries in Europe and North America. It has saved more than 91 million meals, which is equal to about 364 million pounds of food saved since TGTG launched. So, how does it work? Most restaurants and shops that sell food have unsold perishable goods at the end of each day and likely have three options to deal with its disposal: compost it, which can be expensive; donate it, but getting an able charity partner t