Dishing With Chicago Chefs: ‘Top Chef' Star C.J. Jacobson's Tuna Crudo Recipe

Chef C.J. Jacobson will be in Ema restaurant’s tent at Chicago Gourmet and will be participating in a demo Sunday on Mediterranean-influenced dishes

Chef C.J. Jacobson battled it out on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” and now he’s getting ready to showcase his skills at this year’s Chicago Gourmet.

The executive chef and partner of River North’s Ēma restaurant joined Marion Brooks ahead of the annual food and wine festival to share his recipe for Tuna Crudo.

Chicago Gourmet kicks off Friday in Millennium Park. To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit



  • 3 oz Hamachi or Ahi Tuna (sliced thin)
  • 7 sungold tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • 1 T crispy lentils
  • 5 small avocado slivers
  • Herbs (nasturtium, baby parsley, baby sorrel, young marigold, turmeric viniagrette)


1. Arrange the sliced tuna so its long side forms an "S" as seen vertically.

2. Repeat in a non specific line with four more pieces.

3. Arrange tomatoes along the tuna securing rustic line of food.

4. Place the avocado in missing spaces in angles.

5. Spoon some of the lentils around to complete the dish organically.

6. Use a bright turmeric vinaigrette to balance the eye but also to complete the acid sweet component of the dish.

7. Garnish with herbs for balance



  • 1/2 C tumeric (micro planed) 
  • 1/2 C ginger (micro planed) 
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 C lemon juice
  • 1/4 C lemon zest
  • 1/4 C preserved lemon rind (minced)
  • 1/4 C preserved lemon pulp
  • 1/2 C champagne vinegar 
  • 1 C water
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • .5 g guar gum
  • 1 C extra virgin oil


1. Mix all ingredients except guar gum in bowl and let sit for an hour

2. Blend the ingredients and strain through a chinios

3. Place the vinaigrette in a metal bowl & sprinkle with guar gum

4. Allow to sit for ten minutes

5. Blend with a stick blender for three minutes

6. Strain and adjust seasoning

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