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Chef's Table

Top food pros from around the state dish on their favorite fall and winter creations.

Chef's Table

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Firefly Grill- Chef Niall Campbell

Niall Campbell

Firefly Grill Effingham
Thai Shrimp & Noodle Soup

Niall says cold days—and cold season—call for hot soup. “It’s a light broth with loads of fish sauce, cilantro and hot peppers,” he says. “I consider fish sauce to be the fountain of youth and the peppers are great for clearing your sinuses when you are under the weather.” Niall says Firefly grows its own hot peppers, some of which survive quite late into the fall. “It’s amazing to be able to pick them the same day they go into the soup,” he says. The soup Firefly serves is not as spicy as Niall’s home version. “We dial down the heat,” he says, “unless someone requests the full monty.”

Chef 4

Mindy Segal

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate Chicago
Bread Pudding with Apples

“Bread pudding is warm, and it’s soft, and it’s super comforting,” Mindy says. Though she makes the pudding every year, this season she’s trying something different. “I decided to make it with apples,” she says. She soaks the fruit in hard cider, caramelizes it, then introduces the liquid into the pudding. Mindy likes to serve the dessert in a jar, layered like a parfait. “It’s really tall and funky-looking,” she says. “When you put your spoon in it, you get all these different flavors.”

Chef 6

Noah Ottenhausen

One Eleven Main Galena
Butternut Squash

 “Fall is a great time for tubers like sweet potatoes,” Noah says. “It’s a time for comfort foods.” He flavors his ravioli with spinach and diced-up sweet potatoes, using produce from growers within 50 miles. “We do everything pretty much farm-to-table,” Noah says.

Toms Place Chef Lasse Sorenssen

Lasse Sorensen

 Tom’s Place DeSoto

Baked Wellington

It’s the classic dish with a few twists, including mushrooms, a fall favorite. “We make a stuffing for it with wild mushrooms, pork, linguine and berries,” Lasse says. “It’s not the classic Wellington, but it’s our take.” Another fall favorite, hunter’s chicken, is prepared in a soup-like broth with bacon and cherry tomatoes. Fall is also prime time for shellfish, especially oysters. “Months that end with an ‘r’—that’s the best time to eat oysters,” Lasse says.

Must-Try

Satisfy cool-weather cravings with heartwarming meals prepared by locally connected chefs.

Market House on the Square Lake Forest

Executive chef Dan Marquis co-owns his family’s Mill Road Farms in Sheffield and cooks with its organically grown produce. The restaurant serves pub fare and hearty classics like meatloaf in English country manor ambience.

Molly’s Kitchen and Bar Mount Carroll

Chef Molly McDonough’s menu of comforting cuisine includes a shrimp étouffée and a toasty potpie made with smoked chicken—both hit the spot on a chilly evening. Try the fruity cocktails, too—they’re made with just-squeezed juices. Local honey flavors hot toddies. 

Bacaro Champaign

Chef-owner Drew Starkey and his team work with local farms and globally networked importers to produce a creative, changing menu backed by fine wines.

Global Gourmet Carbondale

At chef Andrea Barclay’s casual dining spot, ethnic flavors—Spanish, Asian, Italian, Greek—energize a menu that changes according to what’s in season, available or chef-inspired. Though the menu is small (because the kitchen is, too), the crowd is usually big.

Found Kitchen and Social House Evanston

Veggie-lovers flock to Found, where daily farm deliveries shape chef Nicole Pederson’s “flexitarian” menu of vegetables, grains and select meats. The cocktails keep it local with spirits from nearby North Shore Distillery and F.E.W. Spirits.

The Barn Evanston

Amy Morton (daughter of Chicago steakhouse legend Arnie Morton)owns both Found and this meat-centric sister eatery, hidden in an old horse stable off an alley. Prime Heritage Angus steaks beef up chef Nicole Pederson’s menu, which also includes chicken, pork and bison.

Yellow Moon Cafe Cobden

Meats from Lick Creek Beef and eggs from Five Hen Farm, both in Buncome, flavor an in-flux menu. Lunch often means BLTs or turkey veggie wraps made with regional ingredients. Dinner faves include Cornish hen and beef Bolognese. Frequent live music adds to the homey feel.

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