Chicago's Top Chef-Style Speakeasy Dinner

A former Top Chef contestant finds life after reality TV.

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The best meals in the city aren't always served in a restaurant. Once a month, Valerie Bolon (left) of Top Chef Season 4 fame, and Personal Chef Rachel Winpar (right) bring around 25 people together in a downtown condo for an event they've dubbed the Culinary Speakeasy.
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This is the seventh monthly Speakeasy dinner. Each has it's own specially-designed menu.
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The guests are invited for a cocktail hour of sorts before the meal is served.
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Each Speakeasy dinner incorporates a different noteworthy guest. Mixology rock star Adam Seger of Nacional 27 was in the house on this night whipping up some of his concoctions.
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Seger was featuring his Hum Liquer, a rum-infused spirit made with a syrup he concocted using hibiscus, cardamom and ginger.
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Tonight Seger featured the Summer Hum cocktail, made with Hum, ginger beer, fresh mint and a whole lot of other goodies.
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Meanwhile the chefs were hard at work in the kitchen, preparing items like ...
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... these chicken empanada appetizers.
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The stage was being set for a six-course meal that included ...
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... crispy softshell crab, grilled ramps, miso glazed bacon and sweet chili sauce.
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Wild boar and date sausage, potato/onion hash, soft boiled egg and hollandaise.
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Moroccan carrot soup, mascarpone cream and crab popovers.
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Pouring bowls of Moroccan carrot soup, mascarpone cream and crab popovers.
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Homemade pasta with morels, fresh peas and farmer's market cheese in the pan ...
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Homemade pasta with morels, fresh peas and farmer's market cheese on the plate.
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The chef's got to taste it to make sure it's good!
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Crispy sweetbreads, bay scallops, braised collard greens and roasted grapes.
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Chocolate n' cherry jam macaroons with "special" soda
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Hate to give it away, but that "special soda" is cream soda.
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In the dining room, it's time to enjoy the culinary labor of love being produced in the kitchen.
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The dinner is BYOB.
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Fresh crabs are ready to go!
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Mmmmm bacon ... or shall we say, miso-glazed bacon ...
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Virtually all of the food, including the pasta, is homemade.
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Braised collard greens and roasted grapes
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Morel mushrooms awaiting their turn in the pan.
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The Culinary Speakeasy dinner is $85 per person. Email chef@valeriebolon.com for more information.
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