— Although newly minted Top Chef champion Joe Flamm says he will be the executive chef at Spiaggia for the time being, he also is working on opening his own Italian restaurant sometime in the future. Flamm said on Thursday evening’s finale that he wants to use his $125,000 winnings to open his own restaurant and expanded on that idea in interviews with the Sun-Times and Robb Report, saying that “I have nothing concrete right now” and “I still love Spiaggia and I’m still the executive chef there. I’ll use this win as a launching point.” Flamm also opens up about the decision that brought him from elimination to champion, how he celebrated the victory back when it was taped in June, Stephanie Izard’s advice to him, and why he loves Chicago.
— More signs of impending spring weather are here as seasonal frozen treats stalwarts are starting to reopen. South Side icon Original Rainbow Cone reopened for the season on March 2 and its many fans are predictably overjoyed. Popular Wrigleyville shaved ice spot Snow Junkie also reopened this past weekend and unveiled new savory dishes including a beef kalbi banh mi.
— Lake Effect Brewing’s plan for a brewery and taproom inside a 112-year-old firehouse in Jefferson Park is moving forward. The project, which also includes apartments, was approved by Ald. John Arena (45th) at a community meeting on Thursday evening, the Sun-Times reports. Lake Effect’s space will live on the first floor and include 800 square-feet of indoor seating, an outdoor patio, and a kitchen, so it will also serve food.
— Iliana Regan and her Kitsune team will unveil tasting menus this week at the North Center Japanese-inspired stalwart, she writes in her newsletter.
— And finally, most participants in the 10th annual Baconfest have revealed their menus for the event on April 6 and 7. Co-founder Rob Zurer writes in a news release that this year’s menu trends are cheddar cheese, grits and polenta, fried balls, and dumplings. Read through the menus on the website, where tickets are also available.