MIDAS Award winners trip to Chicago

Nigel Smith, Executive Chef, Levy Restaurants at The O2

I was recently lucky enough to be part of a group trip to Chicago, after winning the MIDAS award for menu innovation for NY-LON. Our visit to the US was fantastic providing a real understanding into the culinary differences between the UK and our neighbours across the pond.

Highlights of the trip included a visit to the NRA Show, the largest annual gathering of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry and a visit to U.S. Cellular Field to watch the Chicago White Sox. As a Levy Restaurants venue, it was a great opportunity to see what our US colleagues do differently to deliver food and drink at major sporting events.

However, being part of a group of food enthusiasts, we couldn’t wait to sample the local flavours of Chicago:

Smoke Daddy, a specialist in ribs was our first stop; a small, fun meat joint which played live music. A smoky perfume filled the indoors giving us a fantastic taste of ‘proper’ BBQ food.

Smoke Daddy Chicago, NY-LON MIDAS trip

Mana was next and we were treated to some great vegetarian and vegan dishes – they certainly liked their greens!

Mana Chicago

Bucks Chicago gave an insight into how to put on brunch American-style (the buttermilk scones were amazing), and the evening saw us dine at Gibsons Steak House where we were treated to superb quality cuts of prime Angus beef.

Eataly Chicago

We were also lucky enough to visit Eataly – a place where retails meets restaurants where you can buy Italian produce to cook at home, grab a quick coffee, or even end up in their fantastic restaurant sampling the delicious cuisine. This is a concept which I firmly believe will no doubt be on its way to London soon.

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