Chicago’s Food and Drink Fifty

Chicago’s Food and Drink Fifty

NewCity Resto |
Apr 6, 2017

Big Heat 2017 is Newcity’s biennial listing of Chicagoans who wield largely behind-the-scenes influence. These are not chefs, sommeliers, bartenders and others who serve us what we like to eat and drink. Rather, this year, we’re listing the owners, media personalities—journalists, bloggers and PR people—business leaders, as well as food-oriented entrepreneurs, including farmers, beer/spirit makers and coffee roasters.

To compile our list, we queried leaders in Chicago dining culture, people who’ve been on the list themselves and others in the industry. We based our decisions on those recommendations, while taking into account performance and promise: we considered not only people who’ve had an impact on the world of dining but also those who are positioned to have an impact in years to come.

Some anger is an anticipated reaction to this list. That’s partly because we live in an angry age but also because we have probably left off one or more of your favorites—perhaps even you. Apologies. All lists are unfair, limited by a lack of omniscience and sometimes swayed subjective preference. Our team has simply done our best to call out many major and even some lesser-known names of people we believe are, beyond the kitchen and bar staff, shaping the dining experience in Chicago, making it what it is today and what it will become tomorrow. (David Hammond)

4
Rich Melman and Molly, RJ and Jerrod Melman
Founder and Partners/Children, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
For the Melman clan, it’s all about family, trust and lessons learned from dad, Rich, one of Chicago’s dining titans. For RJ, Molly and Jerrod, being successful comes from thinking small to get big—a lesson passed on from Rich who grew a business empire from the world’s first salad bar at R.J. Grunts to include over one-hundred restaurants nationwide. In a city of great restaurant groups, RJ, Molly and Jerrod say “friendly Midwest competition” is what keeps innovation in Chicago moving forward. Currently the trio is most excited for July’s Windy City Smokeout, the annual festival of smoked everything, along with beer and country music, in a massive parking lot by the river. If they had to choose a favorite Melman spot, it would have to be R.J. Grunts. “It’s where mom met dad. Without R.J.s, we wouldn’t exist” says Jerrod.

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-878-7340

You May Also Like...

How To
How To Win (2X, 3X, 4X even 5X Points) All Summer Long
Aug 6, 2018

Everyone we know loves summer and everyone we know also loves to win. So what if we told you that…

read more >

Recent Posts

In The Restaurants
Now Serving: Di Pescara Thursday Night Lobster Special
Jan 17, 2019

Kick off the weekend early with this amazing deal! Di Pescara, located in Northbrook Court, is now…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Building The Perfect Bowl Of Ramen
Jan 16, 2019

'Tis the season for a hearty bowl of ramen to warm you up during these colder winter months. But…

read more >
In The Restaurants
DC & Bethesda Restaurant Week 2019
Jan 15, 2019

DC Restaurant Week (January 14 - 20) and Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week (January 11 - 20) are…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Mon Ami Gabi’s Braised Short Ribs
Jan 15, 2019

It's chilly outside and we've got the perfect winter dish to warm you up: Mon Ami Gabi's Braised…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Ozzie’s Pops & Pretzels Abuelita Hot Chocolate
Jan 14, 2019

Chef / Partner Ozzie Ocegueda of Ozzie's Pops and Pretzels is sharing his family hot chocolate…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Guide to Our Favorite Salads
Jan 14, 2019

A salad a day keeps the doctor away. Well, maybe not. But we know it can be tough keeping your New…

read more >
How To
8 Ways to Use Your Lettuce Gift Card
Jan 14, 2019

Racking your brain for the perfect gift? Here's an idea, how about a Lettuce Entertain You Gift…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Big Game Day Carry-out + Brunch Specials 2019: Los Angeles
Jan 13, 2019

The Big Game is February 3, 2019 and if you are in Los Angeles, Stella Barra in Santa Monica and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
What to Carry-Out and Where to Watch the Big Game 2019: Las Vegas
Jan 13, 2019

The Big Game is February 3, 2019 and if you are in Las Vegas, here are some of our restaurants that…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Big Game Day 2019: What to Carry-Out + Brunch Specials in D.C.
Jan 13, 2019

We're already looking forward to the Big Game on Sunday, February 3, 2019. Whether you're hosting at…

read more >
In The Restaurants
The Big Game is February 3, 2019: What to Carry-Out in the Twin Cities
Jan 13, 2019

The Big Game is Sunday, February 3, 2019 and this year stock your game day spread with Wildfire or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour
Jan 13, 2019

It's 5 o'clock somewhere! Here are all the happy hour deals at select Lettuce Entertain You…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Lettuce on Instagram

Checkout our feed @lettuceentertainyou!