June 4, 2012
We are very pleased to announce the great Dirk Flanigan, Executive Chef at The Gage and its sister restaurant Henri on Michigan avenue, as the next member of our Guest Chefs for Charity series. Dirk’s restaurants are right around the corner from our brand new spot in the Loop, so it was easy to walk over and visit his kitchen last week to finalize the details.
Dirk came up with a beluga lentil falafel for his pocket, which is an awesome contrast to our current curried lentil falafel on the menu. The beluga lentils are a beautiful black color and have a peppery flavor, to which we added fresh herbs and some spices. They’re tossed in Dirk’s own smoked shallot duck vinaigrette (don’t worry, vegetarians: we have a substitute on hand), and the pocket is also stuffed with crunchy frisée, radish, and pickle, plus a spicy kick from giardiniera, a Chicago condiment of pickled carrots, celery, and spicy peppers. Dirk’s pocket eats a lot like a Chicago sandwich. And we kinda like that.
Dirk’s charity of choice is the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), an organization devoted to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees with the aim of achieving their full and equal participation in all matters civic, cultural, social, and political.
Dirk Flanigan’s career in the kitchen began as a teenager, when he bypassed culinary school to work his way up the line at the Ritz-Carlton Naples in his homestate of Florida. Chef’s creative, passionate approach to his craft has garnered accolades from local and national outlets, who applaud the rustic, yet refined contemporary American cuisine that defines The Gage and his French-inspired menu that takes centerstage at its sister restaurant Henri. In 2011, Flanigan was named a Best Chefs Great Lakes Semi-Finalist by the James Beard Foundation Awards and a StarChefs “Rising Star” and also garnered Chicago magazine’s “Best Restaurants” title for Henri.
This is a heck of a sandwich, and it’s the first time a chef has used our artisan pita for the guest chef for charity series. Definitely nom approved.