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Chicago Style Cheesecakes

Eli's Cheesecake

Apr 28, 2017 Food & Beverage

Eli Schulman never did anything halfheartedly. So when his cheesecake debuted at the first Taste of Chicago on July 4th, 1980, revelers judged it to be the #1 dessert of the festival.

Before Eli’s cheesecake, New York was considered the cheesecake capital. However,when Eli created his  original recipe, breaking all the rules of traditional cheesecake baking, a new category of cheesecake was born: Chicago Style. Thanks to the bakery’s commitment to working with regional farmers to select the best ingredients and slow-cultured, all-natural dairy, fans around the world would argue that when it comes to luscious cheesecakes, Chicago is the cream of the crop.

To appreciate the rich, creamy flavor in every slice of Eli’s cheesecake, take a quick trip back in time to the opening in 1966 of Eli’s the Place for Steak, a restaurant just off the Magnificent Mile. For nearly 50 years, Eli’s was a legendary hangout for the who’s who of entertainment, sports, and politics, including the night at the piano-bar when famed pianist Hal Roach played “Hail to the Chief” for one notable guest, President Bill Clinton, or the fact that every Mayor and Governor has wagered Eli's Cheesecake when Chicago teams have made it to the championships. But no matter who wins a title, Eli’s still reigns as the world champion of cheesecakes.

If you had reserved a table back then, before the steakhouse closed to make way for Lurie Children’s Hospital, you might have found yourself seated next to Sean Connery, Don Rickles, Johnny Carson, Mike Ditka, or the Backstreet Boys. If you saw Frank Sinatra  and his entourage (Sammy and Dean) enjoying chopped liver at his preferred corner table, well, it was just another night at the classic Chicago steakhouse where Eli Schulman first created his world-famous cheesecake.

Man with cheese cakes

Eli was a gregarious man with a generous spirit and a big heart. Born in 1910 to immigrant parents, Eli lived by the motto “Charity will never bust you.” During the Great Depression he hung a sign outside his first restaurant that read, “If you have no money, we will feed you for free.”  This legacy of culinary perfection and community involvement still thrives at Eli’s Northwest Side bakery, led by son Marc Schulman and his wife, Maureen. Over the last 37 years, Marc has elevated Eli’s cheesecake to the pantheon of global desserts, sharing his dad’s commitment to creating original flavors made with local Illinois ingredients, including the Honest Abe Caramel Apple Cheesecake made with Nielsen-Massey Vanilla and wild flower honey harvested by student beekeepers from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

Trip Advisor and Gwyenth Paltrow's Goop Guide to Chicago will tell you to top off your visit to Chicago by stopping at Eli’s Cheesecake World's Bakery Café and Retail Store. Located just 15 minutes from O'Hare Airport, the café lets you sink your fork into one of Eli’s 40 handcrafted flavors with its defining golden top, souffléd-custard center and all-butter cookie crust. For a great souvenir, airline-friendly freezer bags are also available—or just stop at the Eli's Cheesecake Kiosk at the United Terminal 1, B Concourse for a cheesecake to go!

Discover more Illinois Artisans at Illinois Made.

Building photo black and white Cheesecakes Mini Cheesecakes

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