Now nearly 17 years old, Blackbird isn’t just one of Chicago’s most dependable fine restaurants; it’s still striving and innovating under the confident vision of chef de cuisine David Posey. A repeat nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year, chef Posey tells us what to order on the current menu, his favorite new Windy City spots, and more.
JBF: Dana Cree, Blackbird’s pastry chef, is also a nominated for a Beard Award this year. How do you two work together? Does she have total autonomy over the dessert program? What do you like about her desserts?
DP: Dana and I work and collaborate very well together. We bounce ideas off one another, share inspiration, and test dishes on each other. Both Dana and I, for the most part, have complete autonomy over our menus. However, executive chef Paul Kahan has the final say. I like seeing the evolution of her pastries from inception to the final plated dish. What makes her desserts incredible is that they not only complement the style of the restaurant, but are a cohesive part of the meal itself, never an afterthought.
JBF: What’s a dish on the Blackbird menu that you’re especially proud of right now?
DP: More than one specific dish, I'm extremely excited about spring and the wide array of produce that's right around the corner. However, I do really love the kombucha-glazed pork ribs—it's our version of the McRib.
JBF: What’s your process for creating new dishes? How do you and your team work together?
DP: First we think of flavors and then determine the proper techniques to house them. After I have an idea, we source product, develop recipes, and try each component of the dish individually. Next, we compose the full plate, and, along with my sous chefs, taste and tweak the dish. Once we get it to a place that works, we taste the dish with Paul. He usually offers a bit of feedback, or gives us the go ahead to place the dish on the menu
JBF: What spring ingredients are you excited to work with?
DP: I particularly love asparagus, both white and green, as well as peas and morels.
JBF: Among the restaurants that have opened in Chicago in the last year or so, what are your favorites?
JBF: Last question: what’s your earliest food memory?
DP: My first food memory is eating Danish meatballs in Denmark during Christmastime when I was about 4 years old. My mom is Danish, so many of my childhood food memories are culturally Danish.
The 2014 James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year is presented by
S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water. For more videos and stories, visit FineDiningLovers.com.
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