Chefs on the grill

Several renowned chefs from the Millenium Park neighborhood will come together for a good cause during a gastronomical grilling event on Wednesday. The alfresco event will be held at The Plaza at Park Grill. 11 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

The chefs will take part in a grilling "throw down." Guests who attend the fund-raiser for the Grant Park Conservancy will sample dishes prepared by all the chefs and vote on the best grilled dish. Participating chefs include Chef Cliff Ostrowski of China Grill, Chef Bernie Laskowski of Park Grill, Chef Doran Payne of Rhapsody, Chef Jose Garces of Mercat a la Planxa, Chef Mark Baker of University Club of Chicago, Chef Michael Cisternino of Tavern at the Park, Chef Dirk Flanigan of The Gage and Chef Phillip Foss of Lockwood Restaurant & Bar.

The alfresco evening will include grilled foods, beer, wine, specialty cocktails, and a special take-away. The goal of the rain or shine event is to raise funds for the Grant Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization seeking to improve and develop Grant Park, and promotes the park as a lively civic space. Tickets are $55. For tickets or information call 312.521.PARK (7275) or visit

Chefs on the Grill:
Wednesday, June 25
6 to 8:30 p.m.
Rain or shine
The Plaza at Park Grill

Chefs on the Grill Recipes

Park Grill Executive Chef Bernie Laskowski

Crisp Gunthorp Farm chicken thighs, ginger and thyme glaze with sweet corn and ramp escabeche

Serves 4

Ingredients for chicken:

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken thigh
  • 4 ramps cleaned and cut in 1 inch strips
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 shallots sliced
  • Salt and pepper
For Corn
  • 6 ears of corn, with corn kernels taken off of the cob
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
For Marinade
  • 1 cup apple puree
  • 1 T chopped ginger
  • 1/2 T chopped garlic
  • 1 T yellow curry powder
  • 1 cup olive oil
  1. Whisk the ingredients for the marinade to incorporate. Place over chicken thighs and set aside.
  2. Sauté corn under low flame, with butter and add thyme and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Bring vinegar to a simmer add sugar, shallots and ramps whisk to dissolve sugar and pull from flame and chill.
  4. Pre-heat grill with charcoal if available. Season chicken with salt & pepper and cook under medium heat 10 minutes per side until 160 degrees internal temperature on an instant read thermometer.
  1. Evenly distribute corn on 4 plates, top with chicken and spoon escabeche around plate, garnish with thyme.

Rhapsody Executive Chef Doran Payne

Tamarind Glazed Pork Loin, Mediterranean Olives and Tomato Confit
Serves 2-4

  • 2 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 8 roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 1 lb mixed Mediterranean olives
  • 1/2 cup of Sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 6 oz tamarind puree
  1. First confit the tomatoes: blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds then refresh in cold water to remove the skins.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds.
  3. Toss the peeled tomatoes with some olive oil, season with salt & pepper.
  4. Slice the garlic and chop the thyme.
  5. Mix this with the tomatoes then place on an oven ready tray; place in the oven at about 120 degrees for about 1 hr. The tomatoes at this point should be cooked and a bit dehydrated.
  6. Slice the olives to desired thickness and mix with the now confit tomatoes - season to desired taste, finishing with a few spoonfuls of olive oil.
  7. Dissolve the sugar in the water and place on the heat, allow to boil and reduce by about by half.
  8. Place the vinegar in with the sugar and then follow with the tamarind puree. Allow to boil and reduce for about 10 minutes. Then cool down.
  9. Season the pork and then brush the tamarind paste over the loin, then grill, making sure to continue to brush the loin while on the grill.
  10. After grilling, allow the meat to rest for about 7 minutes. Slice and place atop the olive and tomato mixture. Then drizzle a little more olive oil to help keep the meat moist.

Lockwood Executive Chef Phillip Foss

Fig-Mint of Colorado Lamb

Roasted Rack of Lamb, Gnocchi Romana, Spring Peas, Baby Leeks

4 Servings

  • 2 scraped Colorado racks of lamb; split, chine bone removed, bones scraped
  • salt and black pepper; freshly ground
  • 1 recipe of Fig-Mint Marinade (recipe follows)
  • 1 recipe of Gnocchi Romana (recipe follows)
  • 8 oz fresh English peas; removed from shell
  • 4 baby leeks; split, washed well, and cut into 1/4 dice
  • 1 recipe of Lamb Sauce (recipe follows)

Note: The lamb is best when marinated for three days. If there isn't time, I suggest cutting the rack of lamb into chops, tossing them with the marinade and grilling them instead.

Ingredients for Fig-Mint Marinade:
  • 1/2 lb dried figs
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1/4 bunch mint
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 T black pepper; freshly ground

Note: This recipe yields 3 1/2 cups which may be more than is needed for this recipe. The rest may be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks in an airtight container.

Ingredients for Gnocchi Romana:
  • 9 cups milk
  • 3 cups semolina flour
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 oz butter; unsalted
  • 8 oz parmesan cheese; freshly grated
  • 3 ea eggs
  • 4 oz canola-extra virgin olive oil blend

Note: This recipe also makes more than what is needed for this preparation, but it is difficult to do in smaller batches. I suggest refrigerating what is left.

Ingredients for Lamb Sauce:
  • 4 oz canola oil
  • 8 lbs lamb bones
  • 6 qt cold water
  • 8 oz onions; peeled and rough cut
  • 4 oz carrots; peeled and rough cut
  • 8 oz garlic; split
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • small pinch salt
Preparation for the Lamb Sauce:
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Place bones in a large roasting pan and roast for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, and cook until a deep brown color.
  3. Transfer the bones to a stock pot and cover with cold water about 6" above the bones.
  4. Bring to a boil, lower to a strong simmer and skim the surface.
  5. Heat a large sauté pan or rondeau over medium high heat and add the canola oil.
  6. When smoking add the onions, carrots and garlic.
  7. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onions and garlic are golden brown.
  8. Add the tomato paste and stir constantly to coat the vegetables. Cook until the paste takes on a rusty brown color and gives off a sweet aroma.
  9. Add a couple ladles of the lamb stock and to release any fond.
  10. Add the thyme, stir, and combine together with the stock. Add a small pinch of salt.
  11. Continue simmering the stock while skimming occasionally for about 12 hours or until the stock has developed a rich flavor and has a "noticeable" body.
  12. Strain through a coarse strainer and then again through a fine chinois.
  13. Return the strained stock to the heat and reduce by about two-thirds while skimming frequently or until has reached the desired consistency. The sauce will be ready when it lightly coats the back of a spoon.
  14. Strain again through a fine chinois and keep warm.
Preparation for the Gnocchi Romana:
  1. Whisk together the milk, semolina, and 1 teaspoon salt in a heavy gauged sauce pan and bring to a boil over moderate heat while continuously whisking.
  2. Once the mixture has thickened, continue stirring with a wooden spoon until very stiff… about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and the parmesan cheese.
  4. Once combined, add the eggs one at a time and incorporate completely before adding another.
  5. Adjust the seasoning.
  6. Line a half sheet pan with plastic wrap and pour the mixture over the top.
  7. Spread evenly, top with another piece of plastic wrap and lightly press down with another half sheet tray.
  8. Refrigerate until set, roughly 2-3 hours.
  9. Using a ring mold 2 ¾ inches in diameter cut out discs and coat with the semolina flour.
  10. Heat a non-stick sauté pan with the oil blend over medium high heat and add the gnocchi.
  11. Cook until golden on one side, flip and cook until golden on the other side.
  12. Transfer to a pan fitted with a wire rack and keep warm.
Preparation for the Fig-Mint Marinade and Lamb Racks
  1. Trim the stems of the dried figs and remove the majority of the stems from the mint and the parsley.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients and half of the water in a vita-mix blender and process until formed into a puree. Add the remaining water.
  3. Check the flavor. This marinade should have notes of sweetness, acidity from the vinegar and then a good dose of spice from the black pepper on the finish. Adjust to your liking.
  4. Place the lamb racks in a small and deep container with the bones up and cover with the marinade. Leave the bones clean.
  5. Allow to marinate for 2-3 days.
  6. Ignite a charcoal grill and preheat an oven to 400° F.
  7. Remove the lamb from the marinade and clean off any excess marinade.
  8. Wrap the bones of the lamb with aluminum foil and season liberally with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  9. Sear the lamb on all sides over the grill. Transfer to a pan fitted with a wire rack and cook for 15 minutes for medium rare.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes in a warm place.
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. In a small non-reactive sauté pan or sautoir, add a small amount of butter and add the diced baby leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook gently over a medium low heat.
  3. Add the fresh peas to the boiling water and cook over high heat for about five minutes until tender.
  4. Remove from the water and add to the leeks.
  5. Add a small amount of the lamb sauce to coat the vegetables.
  6. On a heated plate, spoon the peas and the leeks onto the center of the dish.
  7. Remove the aluminum foil from the lamb and remove the meat from the bones using the rib bones as a guide for the knife.
  8. Divide the ribs in half and place atop the peas with the bones facing up.
  9. Top with two pieces of the gnocchi Romana.
  10. Slice the lamb in half and balance atop the gnocchi.
  11. Pour the desired amount of the lamb sauce around the plate and if desired dot with additional fig-mint marinade and serve.
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