One of Chicago's most popular chefs discusses life after Top Chef, her budding "goat" restaurant empire and her latest prestigious collaboration with Macy's.
Chef Stephanie Izard is building a restaurant empire one goat a time.
Not content to rest on the laurels of the wildly successful opening of the West Loop's Girl and the Goat in 2010, Izard stepped up her game by opening Little Goat across the street in partnership with the BOKA Restaurant Group.
What started out as a concept for a small breakfast spot and bread-making operation, soon morphed into a full-scale East Coast-style diner with 90 menu items, 120 seats and a bakery/sandwich spot that transforms into a bar in the evening.
"We're open all the time, so it's just a place where you can always find something to eat," Izard told NBC 5 from the upstairs test kitchen that doubles as a private event space. "We love doing casual. Girl and the Goat I still think of as casual, as well as a special occasion place, but this is a place where if you're just hungry, you can just come on in."
Izard first burst onto the national culinary scene when she became the first woman to win Bravo's "Top Chef" (Season 4), but she's also the rare reality show star that's managed to transform that fleeting fame into a successful career.
Highlights include being named one of Food and Wine magazine's Best New Chefs (2011), a James Beard nomination for Best Chef: Great Lakes (2012) and numerous mentions as one of the best restaurants in the country.
Most recently, she was named to Macy's Culinary Council, a group of chefs that includes heavy hitters such as Wolfgang Puck, Rick Bayless, Emeril Lagasse and Cat Cora.
"It's basically getting to spend time with people that I've looked up to for so many years, so it's great," Izard says.
Obviously she has plenty on her plate these days, but we can't help but wonder if there's any more goats on the horizon?
"I'm kind of taking things as they come," Izard says. We've had a couple of plans, but this opening Little Goat has been quite the huge adventure, so we're going to let it sink in a little bit, and in the meantime, just working on some little side projects, so we'll just see where it all takes us."
(Video shot and edited by Stephanie Jimenez and Maks Gutnik)