CITY WINERY NY EXECUTIVE CHEF ANDRES BARRERA TAKES ROOT IN CHICAGO Southside native introduces wine-matched “Sharing Is Pairing” small plates menu
After more than a dozen years in New York, City Winery’s Executive Chef Andres Barrera has returned to his Chicago hometown and joined the City Winery Chicago team full-time. His first order of business was streamlining Chicago’s production and table service by unveiling a revised, small plates/sharing-and-pairing menu.
Although hearty Chicago diners can still fill up on 25-ounce, bone-in, grass-fed rib-eye, Barrera has restructured the ambitious menu to be mostly smaller plates that come out of the kitchen tapas-style, as they’re ready, to be paired with wine. Plates are meant to be shared; servers recommend two to three plates per person. Food on the new menu – helpfully color-coded for wine pairings – is organized from lightest to heaviest with offerings aggregated into wine groups. Similar to the original direction of the food program, wine orders are taken first by the wait staff, who then suggest food to complement the customer’s wine choice. This program has won accolades since Chef Barrera first opened the flagship City Winery New York in 2008 with its 300-seat music/dining venue.
City Winery’s new Winter Menu features more sides and vegetable items than before, including house-smoked ricotta on the cheese plate, cauliflower gratin and caramelized Brussels sprouts. Inventive garnishes and accents range from candied hibiscus petals and nutty apricot kernels to savory bacon chutney atop the seared scallops. Seared Great Lakes Whitefish with grilled maitake mushrooms and vanilla-parsnip puree adds a local option to the menu. City Winery Sliders, served on pretzel rolls, replace the burger. All beef is sourced from Missouri’s Rain Crow Ranch and is 100% grass fed, free range, and hormone- and antibiotic-free.
The new menu can be viewed in its entirety online by clicking here: http://www.citywinery.com/
City Winery Chicago launched August 15, 2012, with the ambitious 250-seat restaurant opening concurrently with the fully operational winery and 300-seat music venue. Instantly, City Winery Chicago was doing three times the volume of the New York City flagship.
“City Winery Chicago opened literally the day after the kitchen equipment was installed,” explains Barrera of the whirlwind first few months. “On one side, we have a full service fine dining restaurant that serves up to 400 dinners per night, while on the other there’s a live music venue that, on a busy night, serves 300 people sitting down and ordering at essentially the same time. This is a unique challenge in kitchen and service terms. There were too many moving parts for one chef. I am excited to lead the charge in showing what our new wine-focused plates have to offer Chicago diner.”
In the new division of labor, Barrera has stepped into the role of Executive Chef, and led the re-conception of the shared plates menu, while John Fuentes seizes the reins of Kitchen Operations Director, focusing on his spectacular wine dinners. The partnership of Barrera as Executive Chef of all current and future City Winery properties and Fuentes as Kitchen Operations Director of City Winery Chicago streamlines both preparation and service at Chicago’s bustling 33,000-square-foot entertainment complex.
Michael Dorf, City Winery Founder & CEO, says, “I am highly confident that Andres will be able to show off our wine-themed food menu with all the delicious accompaniments. Chicago is really now our new headquarters for our food operation.”
About Andres Barrera
Chef Barrera grew up on the South Side of Chicago in Marquette Park, and spent much of his time working at his family’s print shop in the Pilsen neighborhood. He was first inspired to cook watching the early greats on television; Jeff Smith, Martin Yan, Julia Child, Jack Tripper and the Swedish Chef all inspired Barrera to find out more about this “cooking.” At 10 he turned to the matriarchs in his family; his mother, his grandmothers and his aunts taught him the comforting properties of a meal. They showed him that food should feed the mind and soul as well as satiate the appetite. These early influences led him to Le Cordon Bleu® College of Culinary Arts in Chicago to study classical French and Italian cuisine.
After graduation from Le Cordon Bleu, he traveled Europe for three months before moving to NYC, where he worked at every type of restaurant, mastering pizza-slinging at Franny’s in Brooklyn and precise cooking and perfect plating techniques at the famed Capitale in Manhattan – all in the pursuit of knowledge and experience. During his tenure in New York City, Barrera’s burgers at Rare Bar & Grill won “Best Burger in the City” from Time Out New York. He was the subject of a six-page spread in Food & Wine magazine and appeared on season 3 of The Food Network’s Chopped. Chef Barrera brings all these experiences and influences to his menu at City Winery, inspired by the wine producing regions of the world and designed to relax, surprise and satisfy.
City Winery Chicago,a fully operational winery and restaurant with outdoor patio, concert hall and private event space, is located in the West Loop at 1200 W. Randolph, in the historic Fulton Market district. The concert hall accommodates up to 300 guests, all seated at tables with complete beverage and dining service, ensuring a comfortable “listening room” experience enhanced by a state-of-the-art Meyer Sound system. Riedel is the official and exclusive provider of glass ware, showing City Winery’s commitment to enjoying quality wine in a quality vessel. American Airlines is the Official Airline and Crowne Plaza is the Official Hotel of City Winery. For more information, please visit www.citywinery.com.