As private/in-home chefs continue to gain popularity throughout Chicago, there I am riding shotgun on the bandwagon. Sure, their food is great – but more importantly, a private chef takes the fuss out of hosting. Whether it’s a large dinner party or an intimate cocktail gathering, you can skip the not-so-glamorous side of hosting (dirty dishes, hours of food prep), and focus on getting a drink in your guests’ hand while they grab an app for their plate.
Over the past few months, articles in various Chicago publications about Chef Charles Webb have been popping up everywhere. What’s his story? What’s his background? Does his food taste as fabulous as it looks? What makes his cuisine and his tasting parties so unique? On Cinco de Mayo, we were invited to Chef Charles Webb’s Latin inspired tasting event, and had the opportunity to find the answers to all our questions.
Chef Charles held his Cinco De Mayo tasting event at the adorable DL Loft, in Lakeview: the event space from the oh-so-chic event planner, Debi Lilly. As the door closes behind you, you’re transported to a chic and charming European apartment.
Beautiful, vibrant floral arrangements were bursting with spring blossoms, including bundles of peonies, my fave. Mercury colored candles rested upon vintage console tables, along with candelabras and other gold accents.
Floor to ceiling windows on the east wall peer over Lincoln Ave., allowing you to to people-watch while sipping a glass of vino that was served from what looked like a 1940’s bar cart.
My mind immediately started wandering, “ I need to host something here, what social events can I start planning?”
Anyway, on to the real star of the show…Chef Charles and his 5-star service and cuisine. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with a Mezcal Latin-inspired cocktail, which was light, fresh, and strong….the perfect drink for the holiday.
Our first few bites included carnitas inside a pretzel roll, incredibly delicious hearts of palm drizzled with a romesco sauce, and piquillo peppers stuffed with oxtail. A bit out of my comfort zone-definitely-but every bite was as unique and flavorful as the next.
The most appreciated and surprising additions to the meal, however, were Chef Charles’s narratives about the origins of each dish and its ingredients. As someone with wanderlust flowing through their veins, this level of background was right up my alley.
As the night went on, we indulged in another 5 or 6 courses derived from South and Central America. There was plenty of vino to go around, and I found myself lingering near Chef Charles, inquiring about his preparation and where best to find imported, regional ingredients in the city (or in his case, how to sneak them back in a suitcase).
You can tell from the minute you initiate a conversation with him that he enjoys sharing everything he’s learned. After all, he’s had over 80 jobs, lived in over 9 countries, and has spent a good part of his life creating his culinary wonders for the rich and famous. Despite his prestigious background, he’s one of the most down to Earth chefs I’ve met. I strolled back home, reflecting on just how great tasting event was, while planning my next Cuisine De Chef Charles opportunity…
With his wide-ranging background of experiences and travels, one can only imagine the unique, authentic, customized brunch menu that he’d construct. Whether he goes mimosas and egg frittatas, or buttermilk pancakes and spicy Bloody Marys, I can guarantee that the menu (and the experience) won’t disappoint!