Tomato and watermelon salad.
Say bon appétit this Saturday (July 14) at Hotel Sofitel’s Café des Architectes, where executive chef Greg Biggers is whipping up cuisine to commemorate France’s Bastille Day. As French as the dishes are, Biggers is infusing a bit of Chicagoan culture, cooking the fare on a four-foot barbecue grill on the restaurant’s terrace.
Biggers created two main dishes for the holiday: Alaskan king crab legs are served with a tasty lemon aioli and espellete butter, and plated with house-made monkey bread; while grilled Green Acres vegetables get gussied up with brown butter, lemon, fresh mint, and house-made ricotta. Another Bastille Day must-try is the restaurant’s brand-new mosaic heirloom tomato and watermelon salad—a common combination with gourmet additions. “I take some of those things that are natural partners [watermelon and tomato], and put our spin on it,” Biggers says, referring to the cucumber vinaigrette, balsamic caviar, watermelon gelee, and especially the tomato “chicharones” he has added to the salad. “That’s how I come up with dishes.”
Once he has the idea for a dish, Biggers’ secret for execution is combining local produce with international ingredients. “A lot of chefs do local and only local,” he says. “I don’t do that. I get fish from Japan and mustards and vinegars and foie gras from France. But it’s also about embracing the trends in Chicago, and keeping an ear out for what people are asking for.”
Bastille Day or not, Architectes’ cheese ritual is another great reason to visit—guests can pair three, five, or ten cheeses with flavors that naturally complement them. Biggers’ pick is blue cheese plus Green Acres’ honey madelines to result in a perfect Parisian dessert. 20 E. Chestnut St., 312-324-4000