How to Collaborate Effectively With Other Chefs

Chicago's food scene is full of chefs who love collaborating with their colleagues.

Whether it's sharing recipes, learning a new technique, or refining their skills, a chef is always open to taking the opportunity to learn from another chef. This week we visited with David Esterline from Burger Point on South Michigan to discuss this consept of partnership.

When approaching a chef/restaurant you have to make it a mutually beneficial relationship. They should feel like they are getting just as much if not more out of the relationship, whether it's is an increase in revenue, exposure through media, or appealing to a new demographic of customers.

The positives of our Burger Point visit: 

  • New to the South Loop community.
  • It offers natural, hormone-free, zero-preservative, local meat.
  • Every burger is stacked with flavor and unique ingredients.
  • An amazing staff run by a phenomenal owner: David Esterline
  • BYOB. Enough said.

David approached me recently about creating a South Asian-inspired burger due to the overwhelming population of South Asians in the South Loop...go figure. Here was the plan I put in place for this proposed collaboration.

Step 1: Make sure you include everything in the contract!!!

Step 2: List out the number of recipes included in the pricing.

Step 3: List out the number of tastings.

Step 4: Lay out the dates for the tastings.

Step 5: Payment due dates. Always have payment due prior to the tasting, including the cost of the ingredients.

Step 6: Do not over promise and under deliver. Consider this recipe your own.

Step 7: If this is a true collaboration and the owner will receive the recipe, deliver the recipe within 24 hours of the final tasting, not before. The recipe can change due to the tasting itself.

Step 8: Make sure both parties have signed the contract prior to purchasing any ingredients.

Step 9: Have a penalty in place should the payment fall through or not delivered on time. We all want a friendly handshake when we are collaborating, but to have the specifics of the contract in place prior to execution allows both parties to clearly understand and deliver on the expectations of the contract.

Have fun, build a relationship with the staff, and most importantly teach the kitchen your recipe as you are creating the dish. This way they can execute it on the menu immediately afterwards. The following are the three burgers that I was able to create with Burger Point:

  1. Butter chicken burger. With tandoori aioli, cucumber/tomato/red onion pickled salad, with crushed almonds, six-pepper compote, papadom and siracha.
  2. Vegetarian cheeseburger. Paneer-cheese encrusted with spiced Japanese panko bread crumbs, coconut/date sauce, and carrot pickle.
  3. "The sac-religious burger." Curried beef burger with fried cashews, coconut aioli, crispy bacon, and brie cheese with masala.

To see which one will be on the menu all year for Burger Point, stop on by.


This week choose a restaurant you think you can contribute your culinary vision to. Stop by and try out the menu, then have a casual conversation with the chef or general manager. Put yourself out there and share your experience with us on this post!

MasterChef contestant Suzy Singh spices up life through culinary arts. An inspiration to her fans, she recently left a career as a neural engineer to pursue food and cooking. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Suzy believes in the integrity of food and cooking. She is versed in Punjabi, Classic French, American, and Molecular Gastronomy cuisine. Currently, you can find delectable treats from Suzy at Bombay Wraps (Chicago), Foodstuffs (multiple Chicagoland area locations), and Fedora (Chicago). She is also a national spokesperson for Le Cordon Bleu, has her own food truck in the spring through fall months in Chicago. She plans to author a book, star in her own show and inspire others to pursue their dreams. For more on Suzy go to 

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