World-renowned chef Julius Russell, owner of A Tale of Two Chefs, treated the taste buds of a few lucky Chicagoans at his most recent pop-up event at The Ampersand located inside the Kinmont restaurant in the River North area of Chicago. Chef Russell is known for blending his classic French technique with flavors from around the world. This most recent pop-up showcased the marriage of flavors from the Bahamas and New Orleans. Chef Julius was inspired by conversations he had with the Honorable Michael C. Fountain, Honorary Consul to The Bahamas in Chicago. These conversations inspired a trip to the Bahamas and resulted in an explosion of flavors for those fortunate enough to make the event.
The setting was beautiful in the dimly lit Ampersand as Russell mentioned that if you were not eating carbs right now this might not be the event for you. The individuals who were able to make it to the VIP portion of the event were treated to an amazing bread service consisting of ciabatta with truffle tomato butter, tomato powder and shaved truffle, sourdough with ramp butter and crawfish, French baguette with bone marrow butter and rice sticks. All of the butters were made on-site and they were delicious. The menu was comprised of flavors consistent with the Bahamas and New Orleans and they combined to create an experience that would not soon be forgotten. This writer’s favorite dish was the pasta with lamb carbonara: Fresh pasta, lamb bacon or salmon bacon as a substitute, quail eggs, asparagus, ramp pesto, crushed lavender. I can honestly say I have never had anything like it before and I hope to have it again soon.
We asked Adiat Baker, one of the pop-up patrons, about her experience. “Chef Julius Russell took my palate on a fantastic voyage from New Orleans to the Bahamas at his last pop-up restaurant, intimately nestled at Ampersand Chicago. The ambiance was reminiscent of private fine dining in the French Quarter. Cajun-inspired seafood was delicately integrated with island-styled flavor. The culinary highlights of the evening for me were the surf and turf and the plantains foster. I’m anxious to see where chef Julius will take us next.” said Baker
We asked chef Julius why he does the pop-ups and what he expected people to get from them. “Most of my cooking is done for private clients in their home or for special events. The pop-ups give us an opportunity to be more creative, expand our presence and share what’s happening in the world of fine dining with so many new people. We also want people to demand more from other food businesses. Every time you choose to trust someone with your palate, they should work to serve you an exceptional dish. You deserve it,” he said.
To learn more about the chef and his upcoming event, visit the website: http://www.taleof2chefs.com.