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Chicago Themed Food

rednails Jul 12, 2006 07:17 PM

I've never been to Chicago (connecting thru O'Hare doesn't count, does it?) but I've got a client who needs Chicago-themed food at a reception (I work for a catering company in San Francisco). The only things I can think of are deep-dish pizza and special hot dogs we once had to fly in for another client a long time ago. Can anyone suggest what foods are special to the Chicago area? I should add the client is requesting 4 pieces of food per person for this reception, and is on a tight budget. Many thanks for any and all suggestions!

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  1. The Dairy Queen RE: rednails Jul 12, 2006 07:27 PM

    When I was in Chicago recently on a "culinary tour" they also considered Cracker Jacks a Chicago-themed food. They also claimed the brownie was invented in Chicago (which I've heard disputed) by Mrs. Potter Palmer. Also, Kraft Macaroni & CHeese, if I recall. They also claimed the candy bar was invented in Chicago--Baby Ruth. Italian beef sandwiches count, too, I think.


    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen
      The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Jul 12, 2006 07:44 PM

      Also, Frango Mints were invented in Chicago.

      Here's a link about the brownie



    2. b
      BRB RE: rednails Jul 12, 2006 07:34 PM

      You'll definitely need Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches (made w/ bottom round roast), with hot giardiniera on the side. Other possibilities include Chicken Vesuvio and Shrimp de Jonghe (you should be able to find recipes and/or descriptions on the web), two dishes that I believe are native to Chicago and rarely found elsewhere.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BRB
        BRB RE: BRB Jul 13, 2006 01:22 AM

        By the way, if you want to order many things in from one supplier, check out http://www.loutogo.com/ for deep dish pizza, Italian beef, Eli's cheesecake, Vienna Beef hot dogs, etc. Lou Malnati's offers outstanding deep dish pizza, and while I hear that that shipped versions are not as good as the ones you get in the restaurant, I hear they're still very good.

      2. d
        Darren72 RE: rednails Jul 12, 2006 09:20 PM

        Saganaki. See http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        If you are doing the hot dogs, check this out: http://www.viennabeef.com/

        1. r
          rsmuckles RE: rednails Jul 12, 2006 11:19 PM

          The budget "Chicago" menu would consist of char dogs, cheese fries, Cracker Jack, and Old Style beer (or Goose Island which is much better). For extra realism be sure to order some of the freaky green "Chicago Style" relish available at Vienna Beef. Also the coffee should be from Dunkin' Donuts, really.

          1. c
            cipsi RE: rednails Jul 13, 2006 12:53 AM

            What about Eli's Cheesecake and Tootsie Rolls (not together, of course...but maybe...?)

            Dunkin' Donuts coffee is supplied by Sara Lee, which I believe is now a Chicago corporation.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cipsi
              SGFoxe RE: cipsi Jul 13, 2006 09:26 PM

              Better yet -- Intelligentsia or Metropolis Coffee can give the Seattle folks a run for their money

            2. r
              rednails RE: rednails Jul 13, 2006 04:09 PM

              Thanks for all the info. I'll have to run it by my client and see what she wants to do.

              1. a
                augustus gloob RE: rednails Jul 13, 2006 07:38 PM

                Check out the Lou Malnati's site (ofers Carsons ribs as well), the Vienna site, the Portillos site and the Irvings site, between all of these you will have more than enough to choose from for Chicago-theme catering.

                1. c
                  cipsi RE: rednails Jul 14, 2006 03:40 AM

                  Portillo's chocolate cake and Intelligentsia dark roast coffee - now there's a Chicago combination I can get behind!


                  1. b
                    bontemps RE: rednails Jul 14, 2006 07:19 AM

                    What about gyros? Just had one yesterday, yum! Several Chicago Greek restaurants claimed to have invented it. I was also thinking saganaki but that would be a fire hazard. LOL!

                    1. Jason Dumo RE: rednails Jul 14, 2006 11:29 AM

                      Don't forget to include Twinkies, Tootsie Rolls, and Wrigley's chewing gum! All are native to Chicago!

                      1. sundevilpeg RE: rednails Jul 15, 2006 12:02 AM

                        "Also, Frango Mints were invented in Chicago."

                        No, ma'am, they were not. The Frango - originally "Franco" mint was an invention of the now-defunct Frederick & Nelson department stores of Seattle. The name was changed after the Spanish Civil War, and the rise to power of the Fascist Spanish dictator (and Hitler sort-of ally) Francisco Franco. In fact, I recall seeing them sold at the also now-defunct Broadway department stores under the Frederick & Nelson label as late as the early 80's.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sundevilpeg
                          The Dairy Queen RE: sundevilpeg Jul 15, 2006 12:16 AM

                          You know, I was fully prepared to debate this with you. I took a city-sponsored tour with the City Historian (yes, Chicago has a City Historian) and he expressly told us that Frango mints were invented by Marshall Field's IN Chicago. But, even on Marshall Field's own website, they recount the story more or less the same way you do. According to them, Frederick and Nelson was acquired by Marshall Field's in 1929... But, acquiring a company that invented the Frango Mint in another city is not the same as inventing it in your own city, is it? I might have to drop a note to the City Historian.


                          I stand corrected!


                        2. sundevilpeg RE: rednails Jul 15, 2006 01:11 AM

                          No worries, TDQ. With matters such as this, though, it's important to keep the history intact. I found the Franco-induced name change thing to be fascinating.

                          BTW, F&N was never called Marshall Field's, though they did adopt the signature script logo and corporate forest green color for bags, gift boxes, and such.

                          1. Scrapironchef RE: rednails Jul 18, 2006 12:19 AM

                            Italian beef or Italian sausage sandwiches or for true nirvana a Combo, as large or as small as you'd like to meet your budget.

                            Any Mars candy bar themed dessert, or frozen mini Snickers/Milky Way/ 3 Musketeers.

                            The gyros suggestion above would be good if you could get a real autodoner to do it right.

                            Ferrara Pan candies (Red hots, Lemonheads) would be great little takeaways.

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