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1999 America's Best New Chefs | Paul Kahan

Blackbird, Chicago

Age 36
Background Born in Chicago. Worked at Topolobampo, Erwin and Metropolis Café in Chicago.
How he got into cooking Helping out his father, who owned delis and a smoked-fish business.
Favorite cookbooks French Regional Cooking by Anne Willan and the Chez Panisse books.
Favorite place to eat Jim's Grill, a vegetarian Korean diner on Irving Park Road in Chicago. "You always feel great afterward. And lots of rock bands hang out there."
Dish he could eat every day Lake fish--pike, salmon and trout.
What he eats at 1 A.M. Dish 131 at River Kwai, an Asian restaurant
with 130 dishes on the menu. "It's different every time I ask for it."
Strangest customer request One diner wanted each item on his plate kept separate. "So the potatoes couldn't touch the meat; the meat couldn't touch the green beans..."
Trend he's most tired of "A little salad on top of everything. It drives me up a wall."
Recipe tip Don't buy scallops that are sitting in a pool of creamy liquid. They should be dry and a little sticky and have a sweet, briny smell. If there's no smell at all, they've probably been treated with chemicals.
Restaurant details 619 W. Randolph St.; 312-715-0708.

Published July 1999
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