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: Art Curator / Server
When did you start at SPG? April 2013
What sort of things do you make at home? Brussel Sprouts roasted to perfection, I make a mean french pastry, and I’m a GRILL MASTER.
If a customer could know one thing about your job – what’d you have it be? I am a bit of a jack of all trades, merging my front of the house and gallery experience along with my knowledge of art to help keep SPG’s motto of modern, simple and fun going strong.
What is something that makes you happy? My passions for art, nutrition, and great food come together to create works dealing with conventions of perfection and consumption in American culture. For example, I baked 95 gingerbread women for a sculptural installation, and preserved food materials such as egg shells, hot fudge and cherries inside ice sculptures placed around the city of Chicago.
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.
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.
Position: Head Baker
When did you start at SPG? November 2013; I moved back to Chicago, and had been searching for a job. I walked in and applied for the position. About two weeks later, while standing in IKEA on my birthday, Derrick called me and asked me to come in for an interview. Then I met with Lisa… And here I am. The call and interview are two birthday presents I’ll never forget.
What is your favorite thing at SPG? The breakfast hash has gotten me through the rest of my day many times.
If a customer should know one thing about your job – what would it be? I truly enjoy what I do. I love taking simple ingredients, and turning them into delicious baked goods.
What is one food item you can’t live without? Bread. I love kneading it, the smell of it, the sound it makes after it comes out of the oven, the taste of it. I love the fact you combine basic ingredients- flour, salt, water, and yeast- and they turn into a beautiful golden brown loaf. For me, it brings a meal, and people, together. I just love it.
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.
Favorite item at SPG? If I were cheating, I’d say my giard. Honestly, the dinner menu has consistently floored me, it’s astonishingly wonderful.