Purveyor Closeup: “Odd” Produce Translates to Delicious Menu Items

Wild mushrooms foraged by Odd Produce that are used on our mushroom flatbread and for our “faux marrow.”

As a chef, you sometimes find inspiration in “odd” places. For us in the City Winery Chicago kitchen, a new world of ingredients, ideas and possibilities opened up when Dave Odd, president of Odd Produce, walked in.

Dave, whose long list of accomplishments and career interests includes comedian/reptile wrangler/paranormal researcher/wildlife photographer/forager, runs a business specializing in foraging and growing unique and unusual ingredients, including herbs, mint, mushrooms and fruit, such as local berries.

One thing I really like about working with Dave is the freshness of all the items. The company has a greenhouse and a farm in Harvard, Ill., for items it grows, and they also sources items from all over the country. For items they have flown in, they only order what they need, pick them up from the airport and deliver them immediately. For produce grown on their farm, they pick it the day of and deliver it fresh from their hands to our restaurant within a couple hours. They do not store any items, which ensures freshness and quality.

Specialty mushrooms are items we regularly purchase from Odd Produce. We use their wild mushrooms on our amazing mushroom flatbread. Dave also helped us concept and create an item on our latest menu called faux marrow, which is our vegetarian take on bone marrow. To create the dish, we stuff royal trumpet mushrooms with mushroom pate.

Right now for summer, we are sourcing a lot of berries from Odd Produce, including mulberries and Juneberries, all picked locally. Mulberries, which grow wild all over, look like a blackberry but are smaller. There are black and white mulberries, and they have a relatively tart taste. Juneberries are similar to a blueberry and taste like a blueberry with an apple flavor profile. We use these fresh berries on our dessert menu in the “Mixed Berry Pavlova” and on our brunch menu with the “French Toast Bread Pudding.”

Dave also sources speciality items for our bartender, such as elderflowers, which grow wild. He also has collected angelica for our bar program, which was used to make bitters and candy twizzle sticks and also used as a garnish on drinks.

We look forward to serving you some of our “odd” menu items in the dining room and on our outdoor patio soon!

- Chef Andres Barrera


Purveyor Closeup: Lovin’ Labriola Breads!

Labriola’s Natale Vaniglia delivers our breads each day and always arrives with a smile, a hello and a thank you.

Next time you are in to “break bread” with friends in the City Winery Chicago dining room or on our outdoor patio, take note of our delicious fresh-baked breads, all of which are supplied exclusively by Labriola Baking Company, located in Alsip, just outside of Chicago.

We selected Labriola because of the company’s exceptional reputation, as well as the quality and freshness of the products, as they deliver several times a day to the city. I also admire how baker/owner Rich Labriola’s passion for bread and his quest to offer the latest artisan products truly shows through in Labriola’s line of breads.

The products work really well with our menu items, such as the brioche “Silver Dollar” slider buns we use for our City Winery Sliders. We brush the “Sea Salt & Olive Oil” ciabatta bread with olive oil and grill it to serve alongside our albondigas. We also toast the ciabatta bread to serve with our burrata cheese plate and use it for the Caprese sandwich on our new brunch menu.

The French baguettes are perfectly sliced fresh to pair with our cheese and charcuterie plates. We serve Labriola bagels at brunch, and we also use their braided challah for our delicious French toast bread pudding.

Above and beyond the quality and freshness of the bread, they will deliver up to three times a day, every day. This is simply exceptional and allows us to provide the best tasting items possible to our guests. And, as a chef, I can rest assured that all of our bread products will have a consistent taste and will be delivered reliably. A load off my shoulders, for sure!

So, come on in and “break bread” with us soon!  Hope everyone is having a fantastic summer!

- Chef Andres Barrera