[Photo: Thomas Keller, Chris Pandel, Celina Tio]
Yup, you read that right. Thomas Keller will be in the kitchen at the Bristol in October, but before that happens, exec chef Chris Pandel will team with chef Celina Tio, who owns Kansas City's Julian, for a special beer and bourbon dinner on Sept. 12.
Pandel and the James Beard winner will prepare a five-course meal featuring New Belgium brews, the Goose Island/Bristol collaborative black IPA, A Beer Named Sue, which has been aging in bourbon barrels for the last year ("After aging it's incredible," Pandel said. "Jared Rouben did an amazing job."), and Tio's own bourbon that she collaborated on with Old Rip Van Winkle. Tickets for the dinner, which cost $55 (pairings are $25), can be reserved by calling 773-862-5555.
Pandel invited Tio to join him after the pair cooked at an autism fundraiser in Toledo recently and helped raise $1 million. "She's a fun girl," Pandel said. "She has a really similar philosophy as far as food is concerned. We're excited to have another great Midwestern chef represented at the Bristol."
Now if you need more incentive to dine with Pandel and Tio, who was also on Top Chef Masters, how about this: Guests to this dinner will get first dibs at reservations for a dinner that will team Pandel with world-renowned chef Thomas Keller (Per Se, The French Laundry). That dinner, taking place on Sunday Oct. 28, will celebrate the release of Keller's new book, Bouchon Bakery.
Pandel said the details of that dinner have not yet been solidified and he's not sure the structure of how he and Keller will prepare courses—whether together or one after the other. The menu will reportedly honor food from all of Keller's restaurants and it will feature a special dessert from the new book.
When asked if he was anxious to have a chef like Keller working alongside him, Pandel said, "Nervous? No. I'm looking forward to learning form him. I've never really met him before. I'd like to hear his critique on some of the food."
So how did this come together? Keller dined at the Bristol with Grant Achatz shortly after it first opened and enjoyed it enough that when he was approached about doing this dinner in connection with his book tour, he warmly accepted. "I'm extremely flattered," Pandel said. "I want him to enjoy himself while he's here." He added they may do a second dinner at Balena, but that has not yet been confirmed.
Pandel said they're floating around a handful of names for future Chef Series dinners, including Hubert Keller (SF's Fleur de Lys). "It's just nice to have new people in your kitchen," he said. "They inspire the staff and bring new ideas to the table. It's something fresh."
· Celina Tio and Chris Pandel Beer & Bourbon Dinner [menu, reservation info]