In Joiners, hosts Tim Tierney and Danny Shapiro take a casual stroll through the world of hospitality by chatting with its most colorful characters.
Episode #77 - Christine Cikowski of Honey Butter Fried Chicken
This week, join us for a spirited conversation with Christine Cikowski. Along with her business partner Josh Kulp, she's the chef and co-owner behind the legendary Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Chicago. She tells us about how the Sunday Dinner Club, a multi-course dining experience, was a perfect canvas for their playful, seasonal approach to cooking, and the genesis for HBFC. Also: We chat about how she went from being a musician to finding her calling in the kitchen, starting out at Blackbird, the importance of diversifying your creative expression, and more.
Episode #76 - Anna Posey of Elske
Joiners listeners probably know Anna Posey as the pastry chef and visionary behind the dessert menu at Elske, the contemporary American restaurant she co-owns with her husband David Posey in the West Loop. Elske opened in 2016 and channels Anna and her husband’s philosophy of simplicity coupling seasonal ingredients with energetic hospitality. Anna came into pastry with a background in art and design, having studied painting and drawing at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design – and her artistic sensibility and process shine through in her craft. She comes to the studio to tell us about her journey, how she combines classic techniques with a modern vision, Elske's evolving menu, and so much more.
Episode #75 - Zach Engel of Galit
This week, we hear from Zach Engel, Executive Chef and co-owner of Galit, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Lincoln Park that just retained its much-deserved Michelin Star. Zach discusses opening Galit in 2019 to showcase his experience with Middle Eastern cuisine. He talks about his focus on Middle Eastern wines, building relationships with winemakers, and training staff on ingredients and techniques less common stateside. Throughout the episode, Zach thoughtfully reflects on his James Beard award, surviving as a new restaurant during the pandemic, the realities of running a successful restaurant in Chicago, and so much more.
Episode #74 - Billy Helmkamp of The Whistler and Sleeping Village
This week, we get an inside look at the origin story and evolution of The Whistler bar in Chicago from co-owner Billy Helmkamp. He takes us through his early days in New York City, moving to Chicago and starting an arts collective, eventually leading to opening The Whistler in Logan Square in 2008. Billy shares anecdotes about pivoting to a major focus on craft cocktails with the help of Paul McGee, dealing with the trials of the first few years, and expanding the business to open music venue Sleeping Village. He reflects on building a local institution and community space, adapting through challenges like the pandemic, and pursuing his interest in architecture.
Episode #73 - Kristianna Smith of Land and Sea Dept
This week, we’re graced with insight into one of Chicago’s most dynamic restaurant groups from a woman who’s been with them from the start: Kristianna Smith was Land And Sea Dept’s first employee, and after helping them grow for over ten years, she’s got stories to tell and wisdom to share. With a clear zeal for bringing unconventional ideas to life, she tell us about projects like LSD’s first independent restaurant, Parson's Chicken & Fish, as well as the historic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel where they operate multiple restaurants. Plus: we talk managing egos, homemade perfume, oyster-loving children, and so much more.
Episode #72 - Joe Frillman of Daisies
This week's guest, Joe Frillman, cultivated his passion for seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine from an early age. As the executive chef and owner of Daisies in Chicago's Logan Square, Frillman emphasizes fresh, locally-sourced ingredients on the restaurant's vegetable-focused and pasta-driven menu. In our conversation, Frillman gives us the origin story behind Daisies, explaining how the pandemic pushed him to diversify revenue streams by expanding into bakery and cafe offerings. He also shares insights on topics like staff training, switching to a service charge model, and some of his formative experiences working under culinary masters.
If you love to eat
Food in Chicago is really special. This pod feels like an archive of food stories in the city. Super entertaining. Somebody should write a folk history of Chicago hospitality emerging from the 90s, and this can be a primary source.
Best Hospitality-Focused Podcast!!
Joiners is hands-down my #1 listened-to podcast! Tim and Danny bring thoughtful questions to each guest, resulting in oftentimes deep, meaningful conversations about life in the hospitality industry. The interviews are insightful, funny, and grounded in a sincere appreciation for hospitality workers and those who make restaurants and bars a wonderful place to be. Be prepared to binge-listen through their weekly episodes!
Love love love this Podcast!
Really really enjoy this podcast a lot! I love the deep dive into peoples lives and the thoughtful questions. Such a great easy going vibe and I learn so much about the city I love and all the great places to eat and drink. I wish the last question wasnt “what annoys you that bars and restaurants do?” Because then you say bye to the guest. Seems like you can end on more positive note! But I do agree about Culver’s!