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West Loop Icon Blackbird Announces Second Executive Chef in 21 Years

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Plus, one of Chicago’s top pastry chefs plans to open a storefront, and more morning news

Ryan Pfeiffer is Blackbird’s first executive chef other than Paul Kahan
Isabelle Langheim

Blackbird announces first executive chef other than Paul Kahan

For the first time in its 21-year history, Blackbird, the iconic Michelin-starred West Loop restaurant that’s the foundation of One Off Hospitality Group, now has an executive chef other than Paul Kahan. The group promoted Ryan Pfeiffer from chef de cuisine to executive chef, and Pfeiffer is already putting his stamp on the restaurant by starting a “reserve tasting menu” on weekends that needs to be reserved at least 48 hours in advance. Blackbird also has a new general manager and wine director — Terry McNeese who was most recently at Le Sud in Roscoe Village — and teases “exciting new developments coming soon.”

One of Chicago’s top pastry chefs pops up before opening a retail storefront

Aya Fukai, one of Chicago’s most-renowned sweets purveyors who won Eater National’s Pastry Chef of the Year in 2016 for her work at Maple & Ash, is working on opening her own retail storefront. Stay tuned for details on that, but in the meantime Aya Pastry will hold pop-ups where customers can buy breads, cakes, pastries and more every Saturday in August from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Fukai’s commissary kitchen at 1332 W. Grand Avenue. Customers can also place pick-up orders through its website.

A new Aviary cocktail book is coming later this year

The world-famous Alinea Group is preparing to release another book for the Aviary, which many consider to be the top cocktail bar in Chicago. The Aviary Holiday Cocktails is due out this holiday season, Nick Kokonas revealed on Instagram along with an early print test of the cover.

United Airlines will start serving sandwiches from a Chicago favorite

And finally, United Airlines passengers will soon be able to eat a sausage sandwich from Chicago barbecue favorite Lillie’s Q. Scheduled to become available on August 1 via United’s Bistro on Board menu on domestic flights of longer than three hours, the sandwich is served on a Labriola pretzel roll and topped with Carolina-style barbecue sauce and roasted onions, a rep writes.

Lillie's Q

417 North Ashland Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 295-1270 Visit Website


614 North 2nd Street, , PA 19123 (267) 324-5224 Visit Website

The Aviary

955 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 Visit Website

Maple & Ash

8 West Maple Street, , IL 60610 (312) 944-8888 Visit Website