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23 December 2012 @ 06:03 pm
3 meals I’ll be flying to Chicago for in 2013  

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

As those of you who’ve read about my visits to Chicago for Next’s Sicily and Kyoto menus know, the restaurant is not only unique—completely reinventing its cuisine three times each year—but also extremely difficult to get into. Thousands more people want to dine there than can. As Eater quoted co-owner Nick Kokonas back in February:

” … the queue reached 1,500 within 10 seconds of turning the sales page on … so in reality you had to be there within 8-10 seconds to have a shot at season tix.”

I very much wanted to be part of Next’s Brigadoon-like magic again next year, and through careful (and sometimes exhausting) attention to the restaurant’s updates on its Facebook page, I managed to become a season ticket holder for 2013.

So here’s what I’m in for:

Our first menu—THE HUNT—will begin January 9th and run through April 28th. Wild game will be featured, but so too other foraged and forgotten foods and techniques. It will prove a robust and adventurous meal for the peak of the Chicago winter.

Next up? VEGAN! From May 8th to August 24th. Creativity often comes from imposing limits upon oneself and finding novel solutions within a framework of constraint. As Spring turns to Summer Next will feature a creative and ambitious menu without meat. Now, we at Next are the farthest thing from strict vegetarians but we are incredibly excited to be producing a menu of truly 4-star vegan cuisine. We look forward to welcoming a whole new set of customers to Next—and to surprising our omnivorous regulars!

And finally, our grand menu of the year—Bocuse D’or—Concours Mondial de la Cuisine. With chef Achatz serving as one of the coaches to the US team it seemed fitting to bring the Olympics of the Culinary World to Next. This is the real Top Chef challenge: contestants have 5 hours and 35 minutes to prepare elaborate presentations. While we will not be under these time constraints (and limits on the number of chefs!) we will create presentations representative of the contest—elaborate meat and fish platters—while expanding on the menu to create a complete—and interactive—experience. Our Bocuse D’or will run from August 31st to December 31st.

And for those wondering—can all this effort of struggling to get tickets and traveling 650 miles each way to stay overnight in Chicago for a meal really be worth it?

When food becomes a transcendental art … yes. Yes, it can. As I hope you someday get the chance to find out for yourself.