The Latest in Food Innovation Trends

Today’s most creative restaurants keep guests coming back for more. They are always pushing the envelope or keeping the guests on their toes with food innovations.

On the IOChangeMakers live stream, we sat down with three food innovators– Jeff Drake, CEO of Protein Bar, Diana Dávila, chef and owner of Mi Tocaya Antojera and Zach Engel, executive chef and Owner of Galit to see how they are constantly keeping things exciting at their restaurants.

As Chef Dávila points out the culinary landscape is much more diverse today. The European structure is being broken down. Instead, chefs are embracing their cultural backgrounds.

"I find that in my kitchen people have to unlearn what they know about cooking in general because the European structure doesn't fit the Mexican techniques," says Dávila.

Chef Engel helms the kitchen at Galit, where the dining experience is also much different from the traditional European structure. The Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago has two menus.

"We have the menu and on the back is what we call the other menu. The other menu is four-courses, it's not like a boujie prix fixe menu with tasting portions and all that, it's family style. This is the concept of how we want people to experience cuisine. We want you to have a giant meal with bread, hummus, Salatin, and all sorts of plates with big entrees with bold grains," says Engel.

Jeff Drake, on the other hand, is a food innovator in the fast casual segment. This sector has been disrupting the traditional culinary structure for years.

Protein Bar was a pioneer in the segment by serving unique ingredients guests couldn't get anywhere else, but now with the saturated market, the concept has had to up its game.

"When Matt the founder started Protein Bar, he was one of the first people to put quinoa on the menu. When he put quinoa on the menu 10 years ago, people didn't know what it was or how to say it.," says Drake. "Over the last 2.5 years, we have gotten back to focusing on ingredients and bringing interesting ingredients or boosts onto our menu."

Want more insights from these food innovators? Check out the video above or the full interview is also now exclusively available on Foodable On-Demand here.

How a Former OpenTable Employee Cost Some Chicago Restaurants Valuable Business

How a Former OpenTable Employee Cost Some Chicago Restaurants Valuable Business

A Chicago-area OpenTable employee was recently fired after the person led a restaurant-reservation-booking scheme to undermine competitor platform, Reserve.

As reported by “GrubStreet,” the individual “booked ‘several hundred’ bogus reservations at 45 Chicago restaurants using Reserve in hopes of plaguing the app with no-shows.”

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Explore the Artisan Food Movement With Chicago's Greatest Chefs

Explore the Artisan Food Movement With Chicago's Greatest Chefs
  • Chicago chefs gather at Sunda to explore artisan movement from Thai basil to housemade pasta.

  • Role of farming and agriculture growing in bustling Chicago.

The greatest minds in culinary, all at one table: What would you ask? On this episode of Foodable’s At The Chef’s Table, some of Chicago’s greatest chefs discuss how the artisan food movement has been driven by chefs continuously searching for the finest ingredients and striving to create the best dishes for their guests.

James Beard Award Winning Chef Rick Bayless says, “[It’s] about authenticity, but not authenticity in some old stayed way of describing it. It’s authentic meaning that you’re doing what you love; what’s right for you and that you’re authentically putting that food on the table.”

Join host Paul Barron at the table with Rick Bayless, Abraham Conlon, Jimmy Bannos Jr., Sarah Gruenberg, and Mike Sheerin as they dissect some of the industry's greatest questions and brag about the Chicago chef community.

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Chicago Restaurants With the Longest Wait Lines

Au Cheval Exterior  | YELP

Au Cheval Exterior | YELP

Why do consumers continue to go to restaurants with 3+ hours waits before getting a table? The Chicago restaurant that was the most famous for notoriously long lines was Hot Doug's. But since the restaurant closed about a month ago, what are some of the other Chicago restaurants that have the longest waits? And what procedure is being used to inform guests their tables are ready? 

Au Cheval- the wait can be 3+ hours. They send you a text alerting you that your table is ready. 

Wildfire- the wait can be 1.5+ hours. The diner can choose to give their cell phone to be texted when their table is ready. They also give out pagers. 

Read more about other Chicago restaurants with notoriously long waits. What do you think is the most effective way to alert guests their table is ready? With waits as long as these, most guests are going to find something to do or somewhere to go during that time. 

Tips to Surviving the Chicago Restaurant Scene


The restaurant business is a tough business, but Chicago restaurateur Casey Eslick has operated the successful restaurant, Bistrot Zinc for almost 16 years. That is 15 more years, than the majority of restaurants. 

So how does Bistrot Zinc maintain their success? One way is by keeping the local residents, who are consistent diners happy with different specials and dishes monthly, while keeping those staple favorites on the menu. Eslick offers up five tips for a restaurant just starting up, including that the business should have enough start-up money to survive for more than year. Read More