Grilling over a live fire isn’t the easiest way to cook but for El Che Steakhouse & Bar's (845 W. Washington Blvd), Chef John Manion, that’s the point. “For me, grilling is kind of like sailing in that you’re at the mercy of nature,” he says. “It takes a lot of time and patience.” Throw in the communal and interactive aspects of it and that pretty much sums up why Manion wanted a 12-foot custom-built open hearth to serve as inspiration for his West Loop steakhouse.
That’s the idea behind Manion’s new Grilling With John series, in which he shares his knowledge learned from grill masters in Argentina and Brazil with those looking to up their backyard barbecue game. The Sunday classes start with the lighting of the restaurant’s grill and end with a family-style meal at El Che’s Hearth Table. In between, insider tips on cooking with an open flame will be offered, ingredients will be prepped and wine will be drunk. Attendees can chose from three class offerings this summer, strategically planned before upcoming summer BBQ opportunities at Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
The regionally-focused class schedule is as follows:
May 19: BRAZIL
Brazil, where Manion spent his childhood, kicks off the series. Manion will cook whole beef ribs gaucho-style and hang picanhas (the national cut of Brazil) to roast over the open flame. Traditional Brazilian side dishes will also be part of the menu, including feijoada-style black beans. In addition, attendees will learn how to properly make Brazil’s go-to cocktail, caipirinha.
June 16: AMERICAN BBQ
The United States is the focus of the second class with Manion discussing his deep love for barbecue chicken, thin-cut pork chops, coleslaw, corn on the cob and potato salad. A massive "Eisenhower Tomahawk" ribeye will be cooked directly on hot coals. Local beers and barbecue-friendly wines will be featured.
August 25: ARGENTINA
A proper Argentinian asado, just like you’d find in backyards all over Buenos Aires, will close out the series. Look for some of El Che’s signature meat cuts to be featured as well as a few surprises. Share in Argentina’s national beverage, mate, as well as Fernet and coke, and some special wines from the South American country.
The limited-seating classes are $75 and include a welcome cocktail, dinner and a glass of wine. Additional beverages are available for purchase. Tax and gratuity are included. Each class will start at 3 p.m. and end at approximately 5 p.m. Class reservations are available through Eventbrite or by calling the restaurant at 312.265.1130.