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Hotly Anticipated Time Out Market Chicago Reveals Another Batch of Chefs

There are zero African-American chefs among the announced vendors

A rendering of a food hall.
A rendering of the upcoming Time Out Market.
Time Out [Official Rendering]
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

UPDATE: Apparently, this isn’t the final announcement. Via Time Out Chicago, the market will have more chef news in the coming weeks.

The crew at Time Out Market, the three-floor food hall from the company behind the magazine, have announced its another round of chefs who will occupy the Fulton Market space. The hall is part of an onslaught of food halls that have opened this year in Chicago: Politan Row, One Eleven Food Hall, and Fulton Galley. This batch of chef announcements features James Beard Award winner Abe Conlon (Fat Rice). While they won’t sell produce, the space has a feel of a European market at 916 W. Fulton Market.

Time Out Market is one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of fall in Chicago. The space will feature a rooftop deck, pop-up and private event spaces, and a giant 32 1/2 -foot wide and 6 1/2-foot tall video screen that’s mounted above the first-floor bar.

While other food halls position themselves as places where inexperienced chefs can build their brands without spending too much on costs associated with running a restaurant, Time Out looked for heavy hitters to fill its 50,000-square-foot space with three bars.

Chicago magazine reported Conlon will be joined by John Manion (El Che Steakhouse/La Sirena Clandestina), Kevin Hickey (Duck Inn — he’ll be bringing in fancy frankfurters with a permanent post of Duck Inn Dogs), and Mark Steuer (Funkenhausen). Lost Larson, the darling Andersonville bakery, will handle pastries. Dos Urban Cantina, which serves modern interpretations of Mexican food, will also have a presence. FARE, which has a station in Wells Street Market in the Loop, is opening a second location for breakfast bowls, smoothies, and more. They join previously-announced vendors including Thai Dang (HaiSous), Zoë Schor (Split Rail), and Jimmy Bannos Jr. (Purple Pig).

Whatever the selection process — as of now — African Americans are left out as Time Out’s lineup features zero black chefs. That’s problematic. Not only does it ignores a culture’s culinary contributions, but it also squanders an opportunity to hire a chef at a high-profile location. The power of representation can’t be overstated, especially for young African-American chefs in need of mentors.

One Eleven’s three chefs are African American. Politan Row brought in Chris Reed who cooks Indonesian and Creole food at his Bumbo Roux station in the West Loop food hall that features 12 vendors. He’s biracial. Fulton Galley houses five vendors and none of its chefs are black.

Chicago is Time Out’s fourth American food hall. The concept debuted in Lisbon, giving the media company a way to extend its brand. Chefs are selected with the assistance of the magazine’s editorial staff. Time Out Chicago editor Morgan Olsen did most of the heavy lifting for the Fulton Market project and worked with Time Out Market CEO Didier Souillat who oversees projects worldwide.

Souillat and Olsen were asked about the need for diversity on a recent media tour of the under-construction food hall. Both were confident in their selections, which hadn’t been shared with the general public.

“We’ve gone after a really good group of people who will honestly work very well together,” Olsen said during August’s tour.

Souillat added: “We hire by merit. If sometimes we don’t have enough female or ethnic Americans, it’s not because of us. Maybe they’re too busy, or they have blog fans — it’s amazing how busy and how many projects that a lot of vendors that we approach have.”

Not everyone feels Time Out is the right fit. While Brian Fisher of Michelin-starred Entente may feel the food hall is a good chance to tap into Time Out’s international brand recognition and serve his food to a global audience (Souillat said they offer residencies where chefs can spend time at Time Out’s food halls in other countries), others have declined Time Out’s overtures.

“I feel proud of it,” Olsen said. “Like Didier said, we approached everyone based on merit and we feel really good about who we ended up with and the mix that we have of it being representative of Chicago — both in its cuisines and its diversity.”

Stay tuned for further announcements. Time Out Market isn’t the only new food hall that should debut by the end of 2019 in Chicago. New York’s Urbanspace is also planning to open a Loop location.