Let’s Dish: Bread & Wine {Chicago}

If you haven’t been to Bread & Wine yet, now is the time. The neighborhood American bistro, wine bar and market is welcoming a new Executive Chef right in time for the warmer weather. Chef Caleb Trahan is bringing his talent, along with a new (much desired) full bread program to Bread & Wine. His focus will be on “hyper seasonality” and he will use it to not only expand B&W’s menu, but also the Market that offers house-made items to-go! We got the inside dish from Chef Caleb himself & encourage you to head there soon to give the new menu a try.

Bringing a full bread program to B&W must be exciting- what is the most interesting thing you are looking to add to the bread program? What’s the most exciting part of seeing this program come to life?

Well, as far as bread is concerned, I think what interests me most is simple naturally fermented breads with a nice thin crust and a really open crumb. I love breads of all kinds though and look forward to having them incorporated in different areas of the menu: buns for the burger, sourdough based noodles or pastas, even a simple white loaf as the base for the bread pudding dessert that’s on the menu now. The most exciting part is bringing an element that is a core part of the restaurant as exemplified in it’s name, Bread & Wine, and making it a more prominent part of our identity.

Can you explain to our readers what your focus on “hyper seasonality” means and what that will add to B&W?

“Hyper seasonality” refers to a more interactive approach to seasonal produce. Flavors fluctuate throughout a season based on variances in rainfall, temperature, and sunlight, so tasting arugula this week it might be spicier than it was last week, and making accommodations for that on the menu, whether it means treating it differently, roasting it in a pan instead of as a fresh dressed salad, or if it inspires a completely different dish. Sometimes fruit are harvested after a rain and they’re really plump but maybe haven’t had time for their flavor to catch up to that plumpness, so maybe this batch of blueberries becomes a jam, but in another week or two they’re beautiful and delicious and don’t need anything done to them. It’s just a response to seasons within the seasons and hopefully that adds an element of care and appreciation that guests in our restaurant can experience in the food, our hospitality to share what we feel to be the the best treatment of the products we can provide.

What are you looking forward to most being at B&W?

I’m really looking forward working with the staff at B&W, they all seem to be excited for me to be there and that makes me excited. Also, the opportunity to learn how to best service the neighborhood, giving them a place that has a comfortable yet interesting experience.

We heard that 80% of the menu will change and we understand that must be a huge project for you. What’s your process for creating a menu that will reflect your work as well as what the restaurant goers expect from B&W?

I think the basis is a rustic cuisine, something that’s easily identified with, roasting and braising meats, but responding to the seasonal produce and modern times in the treatment of the things that accompany those rustic comforting foundations. Hopefully the care and appreciation given to the food is imparted to our guests, and they can recognize it as sincere hospitality.

“Focusing on farm to table fare, Bread & Wine delivers elevated, nostalgic Midwestern fare. Owners Lisa Fosler Kelly, a lawyer, chef and the wine manager, and Jennifer Wisniewski, an experienced restaurant manager and developer who was involved in Naha and Café Absinthe, have partnered with chef Michael Dean Reynolds. Michael’s career has included Sous Chef positions at Café Absinthe and Blue Water Grill, Chef de Cuisine at The Gage and Executive Chef at Leopold.

Serving both hearty and lighter fare, Bread & Wine menu items are designed, in part, to highlight the different ethnicities in the neighborhood. Visitors can sit at the open kitchen and watch dinner being prepared, or choose one of the unique, local wood tables in the dining room. The space was previously a laundromat, which, like many spaces in this area, was sitting vacant, but has now been converted into an inviting, calm place where people can gather to drink and dine in a comfortable space. A ten person bar and a ten person chef’s counter seek to encourage parties of one or two and provide plenty of space for those who prefer counter seating.

Bread & Wine’s market carries its own private label house made retail items, as well as off the shelf food items from local artisans and a selection of carefully chosen cheese, wine, beer and spirits.”


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