Meet the cafe staff:
Position: Retail Manager
When did you start at SPG? March 2012
What is your favorite thing at SPG? Bread Pudding Pancakes
If a customer could know one thing about your job – what’d you have it be? I truly enjoy the positive foodie environment that Southport Grocery and Cafe has created.
One food you cannot live without: Ice cream. Jeni’s Salted Carmel ice cream. I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world. This is also why Southport Grocery is a great fit for me. Between the cupcakes, truffles, ice cream, and more – I never have to leave! I always have ice cream in my freezer. Jeni’s melts in your mouth like magic; I still remember my first bite like it was yesterday. That delicious sweet and salty match made in heaven. When we get it in the store it flies off the shelf and I understand why.
Position: Assistant [to the] Regional Manager and “Art Dude”
When did you start at SPG? Spring 2008, took 2009 off living and working in Australia, came back in spring 2010
What sort of things do you make at home? All sorts of things – I love grilling skewers of meat and veggies. In the winter I like making soups and baking bread and tater tots.
If a customer could know one thing about your job – what’d you have it be? That I am the SPG Art Director and curate the art that is put up on the walls. As of late, I have been focusing a lot on my art and pushed Lisa to keep the art featured in the store up-to-date. With my background from school, years of dedicated work, and love of local art – I guess I fit the bill.
What is something that makes you happy? I love to travel. I feel you can gain a lot of perspective when you travel and that if you make the effort to get around you can learn a lot about yourself.
Meet the kitchen staff:
Position: Chef de cuisine
When did you start at SPG? In August 2003, I worked retail nearly right after the store opened and moved to back-of-house for sometime while in culinary school. I left to intern and staged to hone my skills in fine dining. The lead spot opened up and Lisa needed a chef, she came calling March 2008. I’ve headed the kitchen since – a dream job.
What is your favorite thing at SPG? Brisket and Gravy – I created it
What sort of things do you make at home? I like to camp, fish and be outdoors with friends & family. I find myself cooking on the grill a lot and enjoy roasting up meats for them. My latest outdoor food passion is mushrooms. I joined the Illinois Mycology Association where I’m learning a lot about identifying mushroom in the wild and cultivating then on my own.
What is something that makes you special? I try to be down to earth with customers. I may want to push their horizons on food, but being from a well-grounded midwestern family allows me some table-side manner.
Position: Sous Chef
When did you start at SPG? November 2012
What is your favorite thing at SPG? Everyone enjoys coming to work everyday. The food is honest and from scratch. Also pretty much everything our bakers make.
What sort of things do you make at home? I also like to make healthier options when I am eating at home, but I do love making traditional Mexican food. I enjoy trying out new things when I have time. I am researching more about sous vide cooking and hoping to soon begin experimenting with that.
What is something that makes you special? I like to think I have a very different outlook on food than most people. I really like to make food a experience for people. Playing with the sensations people have while eating something is always fun.
When did you start at SPG? Spring 2012
What is your favorite thing at SPG? My personal favorite thing about working with food is the passion food producers have for what they do.
What sort of things do you make at home? I cook a lot at home and try to do a lot of different stuff. Last year I made oven dried tomatoes packed in oil, harissa, muscadine jelly, figs in rum syrup, pickled cherries, cherries in bourbon, made my first mustards, pickled green tomatoes and then all the other typical jams and pickle stuff.
Which season is your favorite? Spring, as cliche as that might seem. Ramps, green garlic, rhubarb, strawberries, asparagus, artichokes, and everything else we can look forward to in the months to follow, makes spring my favorite season.
Meet some other dude:
When did you start at SPG? August 2008, hired as waitstaff and picked up as SPG’s first full time “marketing” person in November 2009, mostly because of my ultra-nerdy background and passion for writing. I just so happen to leave the MFA program at Columbia College just in time for Lisa to snatch me up.
What sort of things do you make at home? A lot of soups, brisket, and other slow-cooker foods – and sandwiches, so many sandwiches. Another passion – that teeters on obsession - of mine, is homebrewing; the appreciation of food I fostered while in the walls of SPG truly cultivated it.
If a customer could know one thing about your job – what’d you have it be? I do it from Maine. Yeah, the state. I used to work in-store till the East Coast beckoned me, I love SPG more than ever though – I just “can’t quit” it.