The highly celebrated Chicago Chef Iliana Regan of Elizabeth Restaurant (which received its first Michelin Star in 2013), famous for “its focus on sustainable and foraged ingredients — self-dubbed the ‘new gatherer cuisine,’”* joins Falafill’s Celebrity Chef for Charity from February to May.
So, how exactly does one forage in a city as large and concrete-covered as Chicago? Regan heads up to a forest preserve on Foster and Cicero to forage, preserve and create dishes from the wild! Iliana began cooking in her Andersonville apartment, an underground “restaurant” she called One Sister. After several business offers fell through the cracks, she finally found the right partners when a a couple offered to help her open the doors and give her ownership (and freedom).
Iliana did not need culinary school. She learned from her mother, who taught her everything she knows about foraging and canning. “It’s ingrained in me..,” she says, her natural gift comes from watching her mother harvest for the winter time. We asked Chef Regan about the creation of plates and how she comes up with the cuisine for the seasonally planned menus at Elizabeth:
It’s very seasonally driven and I will think about what is available. Sometimes it depends on what I collected or what other foragers have collected and brought back to me. I will preserve it in a certain way and then I will think of how I will use it or showcase it [how I am going to take it, preserve it, and put it in the food]. It is very symbiotic.
Iliana has created the wrap, “East Meets the Middle East.” With her thoughts on the winter season, she includes the classic falafel, mirin marinated chicken, kimchi and charred scallion aioli, a delicious lunch that will warm you up.
Iliana is donating $1 of each of her wraps sold to the Growing Home Non-Profit Organization.
Growing Home is the leading social enterprise focused on empowering people and communities with Chicago’s first USDA-Certified Organic, high-production urban farms. Growing Home hires dedicated Chicagoans with minimal experience in the work field and train them in production and distribution of consumer goods to get them on their feet.
Growing Home is currently raising a $70,000 matching grant donation! Help us help them by ordering Chef Regan’s East Meets the Middle East wrap! Available through May.
*Eater.com, Nov. 18, 2013