Sure, Lollapolooza sent publicists into overdrive last month sending out photos of acts like Green Day, BTS, and others dining around town (OK, so they were mostly Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ restaurants in River North). On Tuesday, the owners of Carnitas Uruapan — one of the city’s most cherished taquerias — their own celebrity visit. Move over Metallica, as actor John Leguizamo (Chef, Spawn, Carlito’s Way) stopped by 18th Street.
Carnitas Uraupan’s Marco Carbajal says Leguizamo was taking a guided tour of Pilsen when he visited. Carbajal, whose father founded the restaurant in 1975, wrote on social media: “THANK YOU for your advocacy, and for using your platform to transform the narrative for Latinos in the U.S. You’re a class act, and an absolute legend. It was an honor meeting you today.”
Carbajal tells Eater that it was a quick visit but that he was definitely starstruck. Leguizamo has been in the news recently after the casting of James Franco as Fidel Castro in the upcoming movie Alina of Cuba, a biopic about Alina Fernandez’s life as Castro’s illegitimate child. Leguizamo objected to Franco’s casting, saying while he has nothing personal against the actor, he “grew up in an era where Latin people couldn’t play Latin people on film. Where Charlton Heston played a Mexican, where Eli Wallach played Mexican, where Pacino played Cuban and Puerto Rican. Where Ben Affleck, even, in Argo, played a Latin guy and Marisa Tomei played Latin women.”
Much of the public’s response to Leguizamo has been fraught with the same criticisms seen when a white chef is accused of culinary appropriation.
Top Chef Joe Flamm takes over a steakhouse
Joe Flamm, the big name behind Italian-Croatian restaurant and Eater 38 member Rose Mary has taken on an expanded role as culinary director at ownership group Sancerre Hospitality, according to a rep. Flamm, who won Season 15 of Bravo’s reality cooking competition, will continue to lead the kitchen at Rose Mary while simultaneously running food and drink operations at BLVD Steakhouse, Sancerre’s glitzy steakhouse in Fulton Market. BLVD has been hurt during the pandemic without a patio (they’ve since added outdoor seating), but ownership hopes Flamm’s name makes a splash.
Douglass Park residents say Riot Fest wreaks havoc on their neighborhood
A consulting event organizer for Riot Fest, the 17-year-old punk rock music festival that seven years ago relocated from Humboldt Park to Douglass Park, has stepped down from his position after a contentious meeting in early August that was ostensibly designed to improve relations between festival organizers and Douglass Park residents, according to the Tribune. The meeting, detailed by the Chicago Reader, began on a sour note as residents felt it was poorly designed: set for 12:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, it didn’t have an agenda and didn’t include translations for Spanish speakers. One interesting note from the Reader, was that food vendors who serve soccer games at the park aren’t paid impact fees to cover missed sales during the festival. Scott Fisher, the independent contractor hired by Riot Fest, further enflamed tensions by declining to answer questions about safety and the reasoning for the festival’s presence in the neighborhood.
A pair of Chicago street food favorites unveil new franchise program
Buona Beef and the Original Rainbow Cone, two adored local brands with passionate fanbases, will expand beyond the Chicago area for the first time with the launch of a franchise program that aims to target franchisees in the Midwest, Florida, Arizona, and Texas, according to Crain’s. Buona, founded in 1981, and the Original Rainbow Cone, founded in 1926, forged a partnership four years ago and in the years since, both have expanded into multiple locations.
Amateur pizzaiolo raises nearly $10k for muscular dystrophy with collaborative “Tripping Billy” pie
Billy Zureikat, an amateur Logan Square pizzaiolo with muscular dystrophy, has over the past six months raised more than $9,400 the Muscular Dystrophy Association with “the Tripping Billy,” a Detroit-style pizza developed in partnership with Paulie Gee’s owner Derrick Tung, according to the Tribune. First invented in 2021, the pizza and its creator have popped up across the city at spots including Table, Donkey, and Stick in Logan Square, Pizza Friendly Pizza in Ukrainian Village, and Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream in Bridgeport. A reformulated breakfast sandwich version appeared at Spinning J in Humboldt Park and Split-Rail in West Town, and the pie took on hoagie form at Tempesta Market in Noble Square and J.P. Graziano’s in the West Loop. On Sunday, August 14, Zureikat is set to hold a one-day barbecue at St. Lou’s Backyard in the West Loop; he’ll join forces with celebrated pizza maker Robert Mileski from August 18 to 21 for a pop-up at Uptown’s Milly’s Pizza in the Pan.