Company in Evanston lines up chefs for rotating dinners

March 13, 2013 9:56:49 AM PDT
Company, a business in Evanston, provides space for local chefs to put on small, ''pop up'' dinners.

Not every cook has the money to open their own restaurant, but an Evanston company treats chefs like musicians- with a monthly line-up. The business, called Company, sells tickets to diners, who sign-up for meals ahead of time. Then, Company brings in chefs to cook, rotating them in and out of the lineup.

The small group of diners, sipping bubbly and snacking on hors d'oeuvres looks as though they're just hanging out in someone's cool loft apartment. But this is Company, a small business operating out of an unused space in Evanston, hoping to lure transient chefs with one-off "pop-up" dinners.

"Each month we'll put up a calendar and we'll be bringing in a variety of different chefs and they'll come up with a menu and pricing and each week or each night could possibly be someone different," said Eric Singer, the owner of Co.

On this night, Chef Erwin Drechsler is in the midst of a three-night run. He's already marketed the dinners to close friends and loyal patrons, whom he met over the course of his 19 year-run at erwin in Lakeview, before it closed last year. Seating is limited to 18 people.

"And I don't think it's necessarily chefs that are positioned in restaurants as chefs de cuisine or culinary chefs. I think it's for sous chefs, very talented line cooks that would like to go out and make a mark," said Drechsler.

For $100 a head, guests get five generous courses beyond the cocktail hour, including a Brussel sprout bisque with truffle oil, matched with a salad of pickled Brussels sprouts, fuji apples and smoked bacon. There's seared arctic char with kale and root vegetables.. As well as a quinoa risotto loaded with wild mushrooms and arugula. For dessert, Drechsler called on Stephanie Samuels, an old friend who worked with him years ago at Metropolis in Lincoln Park. She now runs Angel Food Bakery, but on this night, is plating tea cake with roasted pears, an almond-ginger crumble and gorgonzola ice cream.

"You have a venue that's set up more like a music venue, where there's a calendar for events and instead of musicians like in a music venue we're gonna have chefs come through. So maybe they'll do a one-night run, maybe they'll do a three night run, maybe they'll take a whole week," said Singer.

"It's about reconnecting, it's about sharing, it's about a party. And that's really what we're building here," Drechsler said.

The space's website lists the lineup for upcoming chef dinners.

1307 Chicago Ave., Evanston