The New Social Order

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Thompson Chicago Spirits-Paul Kahan


If the way to a person’s heart is truly through the stomach, Creative Spirit Paul Kahan must be the most loved man in Chicago. Chef Kahan boasts an impressive resume of accolades: He was named one of Chicago Magazine’s “Most Powerful Chicagoans” in 2012, won two consecutive James Beard Awards for “Best Chef” in 2013 and “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” in 2014, and received ringing endorsements from influential diners including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Obamas. As the executive chef and partner of One Off Hospitality group, Paul is the mastermind behind Thompson Chicago’s own Nico Osteria, a component certainly influential in earning the hotel a spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s “Best New Food Hotels for 2014” list. Situated just off Thompson Chicago’s lobby, Nico Osteria is an authentic Italian seafood restaurant that brings rustic simplicity to Chicago dining.

As part of the Thompson family, who better to dish on the city’s culinary community than Mr. Kahan?

When we asked Paul about his quintessential Chicago meal, he replied simply, “that’s virtually impossible to answer.” So, we played a game of rapid fire and grilled Paul on the best places to wine, dine, and everything in between.

Thompson Chicago: What is an exclusive Chicago dessert you can’t miss?

Paul Kahan: Anna Shover’s Citrus Sundae at The Publican

TC: When ordering takeout, the best choice is:

PK: Smalls BBQ

TC: If you’re dining with a large group, you should definitely go to…

PK: BellyQ

TC: Tell us the best spot to satisfy your craving for…

TC: …Something sweet:

PK: Hot Chocolate

TC: …A hearty burger:

PK: DMK Burger Bar

TC: …Seafood:

PK: Nico Osteria

Of course, there’s more to Chicago than incredible food. We asked Paul about a few other iconic Chicago items – here’s what he had to say:

TC: Where in the city do you feel most inspired?

PK: Biking into the city on Elston as the sun comes up, taking in the view.

TC: What museum do you visit most often?

PK: The Art Institute.

TC: In your opinion, what is the city’s most iconic location?

PK: The Chicago Athletic Association Building and Annex on Michigan Avenue.

TC: In addition to indulging in the city’s incredible dining options, what are your top tourist recommendations?

PK: Check out the sculptures around the city such as the Picasso and Shegal and visit the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing. For an awesome view of the city, head to the lakefront.