They may be just 22 years old, but they have big dreams: to open a gourmet fast food restaurant using modern cooking techniques employed by chefs like Charlie Trotter and Grant Achatz.
Restaurateurs Max Mora, Anthony Scardino and Chikoo Patel are hosting two dinners at Evanston’s pop-up restaurant space, Company, in September, with the goal of raising money for their modern fast food restaurant concept.
“The whole concept is to bring fine dining to people at an affordable price,” explains Chikoo Patel, who runs the business side of operations.
Patel, Mora and Scardino, who grew up together in Long Grove and now live in Chicago, will be serving a five-course, prix-fix dinner as their first public venture at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, and 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1, as well as a brunch on Sunday. They’re calling their pop-up restaurant group “Under the Table,” and hope to host more events at Company, 1307 Chicago Ave., as well as other locations around the area.
Their dinner menu includes oysters, caprese salad, lobster and blue cheese beef, and finishes with a rose petal crème brulee. Brunch follows a similar format, starting with pancakes made with coffee and candied bacon, followed by chorizo frog legs, pork belly BLTs and shrimp.
Both Mora and Scardino worked at several restaurants in L.A., and Scardino recently trained at Chicago restaurants Grace and Au Cheval. Mora says the duo “have been foodies forever” who are inspired by modernist cooking methods.
“We don’t like to overhype that or harp on it too much because you start throwing words like sous-vide or immersion circulators around, and people get a little afraid,” he says. “Our sole focus in terms of the restaurant right now and our skills is really scientific cooking.”
Ultimately, the group does hope to employ methods like sous-vide in their restaurant, which they’re calling Golden Boy. “Sous-vide” refers to the process of sealing food in air-tight plastic bags, then cooking it in a water bath for many hours at a lower temperature than normally used for cooking.
To cook French fries, they would cook them in the sous-vide bath, then briefly drop them in a deep-fryer, Mora explains. The sous-vide method manipulates the starch in the potato, he says, so the end result is an extra crispy fry—or as Mora puts it, “the perfect French fry.”
They plan to serve just four items at Golden Boy: fries, cheeseburgers, blue cheese buffalo wings and milkshakes, according to Mora.
Opening the restaurant is a long-term goal, however. In the short term, Mora says, they simply hope “to broaden the palate of your everyday person.”
Also Coming Soon to Company: A Fundraising Dinner for Carbon Castaways
Diners can enjoy Mexican fare at Company on Friday, Aug. 30, in a fundraising dinner for Carbon Castaways, a documentary about California’s carbon deal with Chiapas Mexico.
Filmmakers and North Shore natives Aaron and David Soto-Karlin will be on hand to explain their project, which explores California’s attempt to buy carbon credits from Chiapas Mexico in order to offset its own emissions and preserve rainforests in Chiapas. There will be also be a screening of an extended trailer for Carbon Castaways.
Chef Nancy Grabowsky will be cooking vegetarian saffron tamales, ceviche marinated in grapefruit and mint vinaigrette, roasted lamb in cacao sauce and rainbow trout baked in mango vinaigrette, among other items.
There are two seatings, one at 6:30 p.m. and the second at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30.
Tickets for both events can be purchased online via Company’s website.