Ever curious about how a chef would create a menu if it didn’t have to be for hundreds of guests each day? Enter the dining series. These weekly, monthly, or quarterly events give chefs a chance to experiment in the kitchen. It’s when they’re known to take a new ingredient for a spin, add some visual elements, and invite chef friends to join the fun. Here are seven upcoming series you won’t want to miss.
Chef Jason Hammel and his team at this Logan Square institution have been doing a farm dinner series since 1999, creating 3,000 unique dishes that have never once been repeated. Farm-to-table isn’t just lip service here: Every Monday the chefs work closely with local farmers to pick the best seasonal ingredients that day. Then they whip up a three-course menu. Dishes like clams in tomatillo broth with red kuri squash, fresh lima beans with grilled bread and uni butter, or a peanut coconut sundae with caramelized white chocolate and roasted pineapple will make Monday nights a little less boring. Weekly on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. $45 for a three-course menu. 2537 N. Kedzie, 773-489-9554; lulacafe.com
Every quarter this River North nightclub hosts the Sinners Supper Club with themes like 1970s Hollywood or “Alice in Wonderland,” as aerial dancers, contortionists, and singers perform throughout the meal. Expect trays constantly coming to the table with unlimited Champagne and craft cocktails along with food inspired by the theme. Past dishes have included lobster rolls, risotto bites with truffle aïoli and chocolate cake shooters. $60 per person or $750 for a private table (includes 10 seats). Held in April, July, and October (dates TBD). 112 W. Hubbard, 312-955-0339; joychicago.com
Roll up your sleeves for a Kamayan Feast, a traditional Filipino spread for which everyone eats with their hands. Once a month Sunda’s chef Louie Yu puts out a delicious, colorful, and highly Instagrammable display across a communal table. Think dragon fruit, mango, crunchy soft-shell crab, whole crispy snapper, piles of skewers, and tons of veggies. As Yu arranges the table in front of the diners, he chats about the preparation and display before you get to dig in alongside new friends. Held the first Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. and tickets are $55 per person. 110 W. Illinois, 312-644-0500; sundanewasian.com
It’s not every day that a chef at a popular West Loop restaurant is willing to reveal his secrets. Chef Gene Kato does just that in his Kitchen Dojo series once a month, where he spills tips on Japanese cooking and, sometimes, the key to the restaurant’s best dishes. Chef friends often join in (you’ll see Bill Kim in July for Asian-style BBQ) to demo. Then it’s time to eat a three-course meal built around that featured dish, with wine pairings to complement. Demo and lunches are held on specified Saturdays (usually monthly) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and tickets are $175 per person. 820 W. Lake, 312-733-4818; momotarochicago.com
Chef Andrew Asken recently took the helm at this Pilsen spot and decided to invite a few of his chef friends to cook with him over live fire, for the aptly named Wood-Fired Wednesdays. Chefs like Mindy Segal of HotChocolate, Sieger Bayer of the Publican, and Maxwell Robbins of Longman & Eagle take the reins each month to put their own twist on wood-fired fare. Just make a regular reservation for that day; you’ll be able to order from both this special menu and the regular one. Held once a month on a Wednesday evening. Menu prices vary per chef. 1227 W. 18th, 312-526-3851; dusekschicago.com
Ever wanted to give feedback to a chef in person and not on Yelp? This series invites a different chef each month to take residence in its private dining room, Eaves, and host a weekly Sunday dinner. This isn’t your typical Sunday supper; the chef has full creative liberty to do whatever they want, from a 12-course tasting menu to street food. After the meal, the chef comes to hang with the diners and have dialogue around what did and did not work in their constantly evolving menu. Chefs take residence for each month and host four dinners. Prices vary. 311 N. Morgan, 312-764-1919; citymousechicago.com
Join this epic monthly themed pizza party between All Together Now and Pet Nat Posse that features plenty of ’za, a one-night-only themed wine list and good tunes. In May, Motown takes over with Detroit-style pies and tunes that defined Motor City. Then into summer, things get psychedelic with the sounds of 1967. It’s all perfect for those that want to wait until the last minute to plan; they’re keeping it casual with walk-ins only. Held monthly. Pizzas feed two people and range from $18 to 21; wines from $11 to $15 a glass. 2119 W. Chicago, 773-661-1599; alltogethernow.fun
Editor’s note: We understand that, at press time, restaurants were closed as per governor’s ordinance. It’s with support for our restaurant community that we share these ongoing dining events, which we are hopeful will get back to their regular schedule as soon as possible.