—An actor best known for his role on the sitcom "Modern Family" will host the nation’s preeminent restaurant and chef awards ceremony. The James Beard Foundation Awards — which will be held in Chicago for the third straight year — announced Jesse Tyler Ferguson as its 2017 host at the Lyric Opera House on May 1. Alton Brown and Carla Hall hosted the two previous awards ceremonies. Andrew Zimmern will host the media awards on April 25 in NYC.
—Chicagoland’s first organic fast-food restaurant — which ownership hopes is the first of many — has an opening date. Nic’s Organic Fast Food will finally open to the public in suburban Rolling Meadows on March 2, according to a Facebook event. Take a look around the restaurant, which includes a mascot, here.
—Another local restaurant is organizing support for immigrants and diversity — this time in a dinner series. Southport & Irving’s "Unity in Diversity" series will host immigrant cooks and highlight cuisines of Iraq, Pakistan, Albania, and many more countries. The first dinner happens tomorrow night (Feb. 23) with a five-course, $55 Mexican feast.
—Another prominent local chef is dipping his toes into the Nashville culinary scene. Cafe des Architectes executive chef Greg Biggers will be chef/partner of new Music City restaurant Fort Louise, Eater Nashville reports. He will "oversee menu creation and other aspects of the kitchen" while continuing his position in Chicago.
—The bizarre ongoing story of Wicker Park bar Crocodile has another troubling chapter. After the Milwaukee Avenue bar quietly shuttered, was reopened for a day by an alleged scam artist before he was arrested and it closed again and finally reopened with a new business license, it’s now closed yet again and its owner is fighting battery charges for allegedly grabbing one of his bartenders and kicking one of his security guards, DNAinfo reports. What could happen next in this story?
—Cult-favorite Western Avenue late-night hot dog stand Red Hot Ranch has started selling its acclaimed burgers that it debuted at its Ashland Avenue location a few years ago, an eagle-eyed LTH Forum poster reports.
—And finally, it may have gone up in flames and temporarily shuttered, but that isn’t stopping Rocks Lakeview ownership from attempting to take care of their out-of-work employees. The restaurant and bar’s ownership set up a GoFundMe online fundraiser with a goal of $100K, $6,245 of which has been raised at press time. Check it out here. It will be closed for at least "several months," DNAinfo reports.