Every week in 2017, we select aN influential Chicago restaurant, study their menu, and choose one item we believe is particularly unique.


Chicago's food scene has never been stronger. Brisan is proud to highlight brilliant amuse-bouches, beverages, hors d'oeuvres, entrees, or desserts from the hardworking, creative chefs working in our home turf.  Our #represent campaign is our way of doing "shout outs" to deserving chefs and to express excitement of being located within Chicago's very own restaurant district.


Why is Brisan the force behind this? Well, we're food & beverage experts with a speciality in culinary trends. Click here to learn more about Brisan. 

Our goal, as always, is to inform and inspire.
— Theresa Cantafio, Marketing at Brisan
Please note: Brisan is by no means affiliated in any way with the restaurants listed on our website.

#represent November 2017

#represent November 2017

November 2017


Halloumi Cheese   /   Tomato & Quince Jam / Preserved Lemon Yogurt / Oregano

 chef Marcos Campos


This. Restaurant. Rules.

What we find to be the most brilliant aspect of this restaurant is the challenge it presents.

What challenge?

A restaurant named "Beatink" truly requires a savvy creative director to execute the "beatnik" concept successfully. Because in order to nail a nebulous purple haze, starry (and red) eyed, but-no-matter-the-road-is life Keuroac-prosed, 1950's/60's drfiter culture, every aspect of the restaurant must demonstrate the zeitgeist of the beanik milieu.


BEATNIK: a young person in the 1950s and early 1960s belonging to a subculture associated with the beat generation.

The interior design? Restaurant-bar meets Anthropologie. (Oh, yes.) Click here to check out the interior.

The menu?  Pulls inspiration from countless cuisines. The menu cannot be scolded for cultural appropriation, because it is a genuine representation of all places. A beanik belongs everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Many core dish components are poster-children for "this ingredient has no true home". We'll explain...

Halloumi Cheese: an unripened, semi-hard, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat, sheep, and sometimes cow milk. The animal milk origin has a vagabond identity. The cheese is historically native to: Cyrprus, eastern Mediterranean islands, Greece, and Turkey. And later adopted and adored by the EU and the UK.


Wood-Grilled Beef Short Ribs / Maitake Mushrooms / Chinese Broccoli / Black Garlic



A new spot by the successful Chicago restaurant group, BOKA. The BOKA Group brought in their creative, acclaimed chef, Lee Wolen. The smart menu concepts and food direction comes as new surprise to us, with Chef Wolen behind the driver's seat.

Here are some culinary trends in this dish:

  • "Wood-Grilling" Cooking Technique - becoming increasingly popular with high-end restaurants. From a design-thinking standpoint, wood-grilling hits the holistic trend of a "return to nature". But from a taste and aroma perspective, wood-grilling adds serious flavor.
  • Japanese and Chinese Ingredient Influence -

Maitake mushrooms - [舞茸]  Japanese origin fungi. "Maitake" means "dancing". These mushrooms grow in folded clusters and have wonderfully firm texture.

Chinese broccoli - A leaf vegetable with thick, flat, glossy leaves and stems with pronounced herbaceous bitterness.

Black garlic - Very popular in Asian cuisine. Fun fact: Some people incorrectly believe that black garlic is achieved via fermentation. However, no added microorganisms are used in the process. It is produced with controlled heat and held over a period of several weeks. The garlic cloves turn black and develop a sticky trace-sweet, savory taste (ooo eee!).


#represent October 2017

#represent October 2017

October 2017

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Burrata / Sunchoke Conserva / Leek Ash / Sourdough

Chef Andrew Zimmerman


One of the hottest restaurants in Chicago right now, Proxi's creative introspective approach to cuisine is making a big splash. "Through a fresh and innovative American lens, Proxi scours the most culinary-rich corners of the globe to inspire a menu that celebrates the bold flavors of multicultural street foods through pristine ingredients."

The Brisan trend-spotters had a difficult time narrowing down the dish to highlight in our #represent campaign, because every single dish at Proxi is so incredibly on-point. So, we selected a restaurant's crowd-pleaser hors d'oeuvre, the ever present burrata dish. We're going to show you how smart chefs can make the ordinary, extraordinary.

Notable notables:

  • Sunchoke Conserva - Seasonal and imaginative component. This preserved dish inspiration is pulled from Spanish-origin. Culinary influencers wearing their heart on their sleeve —keeping authenticity abreast, are not only turning to technique and ingredients, but also menu messages. This component is not bastardized, the native Spanish tongue is represented...conserva.
  • Leek Ash - As seen here, the ash / char  trend is still popular. Charring fresh leek to a burnt crisp, allows for a controlled bitterness contribution with trace sensory homage to onion.
  • Sourdough - A great balancer. This dish has got: 1) fresh dairy for rounding and fat carrying in the burrata, 2) pronounced earthy flavor in sunchoke conserva, 3) bitterness with character contributed from leek ash, 4) subtle tart sourness in the bread of choice. Well done, Proxi team!

Juk / Kobocha / Pearl Barley / Grapefruit / Turnip

Chef dave park


This Korean inspired porridge was seen on Hanbun's autumn menu. Serious food industry influencers have had their eye on Chef Dave Park for a couple years now. The accolades that Hanbun has earned has come as no surprise to us. Shortly after its founding, Hanbun was recognized by all the major food publications, and Dave was voted a 2017 National Eater Young Guns and a James Beard semifinalist. 


This dish snapshot is a fantastic demonstration of Chef Dave's culinary brilliance. The theoretical sensory symphony he has built with this item is notable.


But in execution? According to Theresa Cantafio, Brisan's vice president, "I'm a trained taste-tester. I have dedicated my life to food and beverage. I have traveled the world on food adventures. I have dined at countless Michelin restaurants...and this was one of the single best dishes I have ever eaten. The aroma, flavor, texture, and emotional balance of this dish was so pure and on-point that it brought tears to my eyes — a visceral reaction to Dave's palpable commitment to his craft and honest, character-driven food."


#represent September 2017

#represent September 2017

September 2017


Ragù alla Napoletana / Fusilli Rustico / Cacciatore Sausage / Soppressata Meatball / Tomato Braised Pork Shank / Wild Oregano

CHEF SARAH Grueneberg


A classic, meaty Napoletano dish. Monteverde has earned a reputation in elevated Italian food in Chicago; this menu item is a fantastic example why. The team at Monteverde respectfully preserves the authentic nature of Italian dishes, while using the modern language and relevant audience desires to garner intrigue and understanding. Here's how:

Calling out origin -

  • "Napoletana", this communication trend is extremely important to diners and consumers.


Virtual Return to Nature -

  •  "Fusilli Rustico" - Rustico translates to rustic in Italian.
  • "Wild Oregano" - The word "wild" cues  antique, primitive emotions.


Cooking Method Transparency -

  • "Tomato Braised Pork Shank" - Not just "Pork Shank", but a pork shank braised in tomato. Giving diners and consumers more information about their menu selection (or retail food purchase) is essential in this era. It shows that the food provider is proud to share additional information i.e. we're not hiding anything. Non-franchise restaurants have an easier time achieving this, unlike large scale foodservice and industrial.



Fresh Raspberries, Grilled Sweet Corn, Asian Lime Curd, Pistachio Cake, Raspberry Gelée, Brown Butter Ice Cream

Chef Bruce Sherman


"Chef Bruce Sherman holds true to the Arts and Crafts ideal in the culinary philosophy of North Pond restaurant. Drawing inspiration from the local market, he utilizes exceptional ingredients at the height of their season. Whenever possible, Chef Sherman supports small local farmers and treats their products with respect in his kitchen."


This dish pays beautiful homage to traditional American flavors of corn, cooked butter, and fresh raspberries — with modern touch of bright Asian lime. 


  • Sweet Corn - We're seeing a lot of savvy pastry chefs play with seasonal corn in sweet applications. This dish contains grilled corn, adding roasty-char flavor. 
  • Asian Lime - Asian influence has been prime for the past few years, we are specifically noting a Japanese focus right now.
  • Raspberry Gelée - Reference to classic French cooking techniques and staples are particularly on-trend right now. Gelée is French for "jelly".
  • Brown Butter Ice Cream - We know you've already seen the "brown butter" trend. Big whoop, right? The Brisan trend team calls out "brown butter flavor" popularity in this dish to validate that this trend is still extremely viable for new product development. Brown butter is a very familiar flavor and adds incredible depth to even the most meek of dishes. We are big fans.

Terrarium Of What Deer Eat

CHEF Iliana Regan


Terrarium Of What Deer Eat is a perfect demonstration of the 2017 Holistic Culinary Trend called, "Virtual Return to Nature". 


Want a free copy of our 2017 Culinary Trends report? Cool.
Click here to learn more + request a copy..

#represent August 2017

#represent August 2017

August 2017


Diver Scallop / Lily Bulb / Yuzu Koshu Sauce

CHEF Anthony Martin


This two-Michelin star Chicago restaurant hits on two major holistic culinary trends in this dish:


  • "Virtual Return to Nature" - the Lily Bulb"(AKA "Bai He") is used in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cooking. It is also traditionally used in Chinese medicine for its natural healing properties — the lily bulb is considered yin, and has a cooling effect to the body. From a menu research standpoint, Lily Bulb cues images of gardening, thus a virtual return to nature.


  • "French-Japanese Juxtaposition" - Chef Anthony Martin's focus is on interpreted, sophisticated French cuisine. His team executes tremendously elevated dishes. The use of a Yuzu Koshu Sauce in TRU's French dishes is an ideal demonstration of the convergence of two high-level trends that are gaining particular fusion momentum this year: 1) Classic French, 2) Japanese Influence.

Sheep’s Milk Cheese / Almond / Hibiscus Tea / Quince

Chef Chris Nugent


This self proclaimed "avant-garde", BYOB, 16-seater is bringing contemporary American tastings to Chicago's north side. Goosefoot pays careful attention to ingredient quality and interaction. This dish demonstrates Chef Nugent's sophisticated palate and ability to balance flavor profiles. Some culinary trends seen in this dish:


  • Sheep's Milk Cheese - Highlighting ingredient "origin" is tremendously popular. In the dairy segment we are seeing this executed by restaurants and retail food companies putting the spotlight on milk origin. Sheep's milk cheeses are more common than people realize. The most traditional cheeses that typically use sheep's milk include: Pecorino Romano, Feta, Roquefort, and Ricotta. Click here for a full list of cheeses that use sheep's milk.


  • Hibiscus - A very popular flavor right now. Hibiscus tea is floral with some tart, berry-like flavor notes. 


  • Quince - This ancient fruit is gaining momentum in modern times.  In ancient Greece, the quince was regarded as the fruit of love, fertility, and marriage.  Quince is now commonly used in jams, bakery goods, and as an addition to certain savory dishes.

Diver Scallops / Classic Lime-Serrano Broth / Herb-Infused Olive Oil / Key Lime Cucumber & Tomatillo / Avocado / Fennel Fronds / Bayless Garden Micro Greens

Chef Rick Bayless


An awesome Mexican-inspired dish at Bayless's new West Loop restaurant, Leña Brava. The component that stands out as the most forward-thinking, on-trend item is the "Bayless Garden Micro Greens". Rick Bayless and a team built an urban garden program several years ago. All of his restaurants use agriculture from his garden in one way or another. 


"The gardens are the result of a 2005 collaboration between Rick and Deann Bayless and Bill Shores, a Chicago-based professional grower with a background in small space intensive food production, ornamental horticulture and temperate and tropical botany."

Click here to see a picture of the beautiful Bayless Garden.

"The Bucktown garden beds are in production for 8 months of the year, yielding over 700 pounds of salad greens, 65,000 edible flowers, 250 pounds of herbs and 100 pounds of butternut squash.

"In the cooler fall and winter months, production moves indoors to a 150 square-foot heated greenhouse, 60 square-foot unheated outdoor greenhouse and an indoor light garden, yielding another 150 pounds of salad and microgreens, several thousand edible flowers and another 50 pounds of herbs.

"Bill and Rick also established the rooftop garden above XOCO, a 1000 square-foot rooftop space where  upward of 650 pounds of tomatoes, 125 pounds of chiles and 80 pounds of Chinese long beans and an abundance of specialty herbs are grown each season. It just doesn’t get more local than that."


[Information courtesy of]

Want a free copy of our 2017 Culinary Trends report? Cool.
Click here to learn more + request a copy..

#represent July 2017

#represent July 2017

July 2017


Pappardelle / Flavors of Summer

Chef Michael Carlson


You say: Pasta and seasonal produce? — Big whoop.

We say: Sophisticated minimalism. 


Flavors of Summer how beautifully simple and to-the-point? Flavors of Summer  highlights seasonality and is ambiguous — allowing for a great deal of flexibility.


Defining "flexibility" in The FOOD context...


By being vague, there is more flexibility with fruit, herb or vegetable varietal.


Sustainability & Food Waste:

The ambiguity also lends itself to a sustainable dish i.e. by not calling out  the specific cut or part of said produce.

Let me explain...if a menu calls out orange peel, there is potential food waste for the remainder of the orange. Same as when menus call out chicken breast, the remaining offal and second cuts are often wasted. If a restaurant were to instead call out chicken, they could use the entire bird, reducing food waste.


Yukon Fries / Soy Dusted / Bonito Flakes / Tofu Mayo

CHEF Andrew Brochu


Before Roister opened just over a year ago, it was already on food critics', food journalists', and competitors' list of Chicago restaurants to watch.

Owned by the Alinea Group, Roister is under a ton of pressure to perform and demonstrate thoughtful food prepared by a tremendously skilled staff. Their french fries dish is simple, yet anything but basic. Here's our breakdown explaining why these fries are pretty spectacular and how they seamlessly hit important culinary trends:


  • Yukon Fries - Calling our origin and ingredient source. This provides the diner with some upfront transparency that they demand.
  • Soy and Tofu  components - Alternative meat ingredients, meatless-Monday's, and a focus on non-animal meat protein, is a huge sustainable,  global culinary trend. Smart chefs are demonstrating that removing the veal and beef from a dish, and replacing with vegetables or tofu doesn't mean you have to compromise on flavor. 
  • Bonito Flakes - Japanese influence can be seen with this ingredient. Bonito flakes are also a natural way to achieve a slight umami flavor reaction, without using lab-made MSG...and who doesn't love umami?

Golden Ostera Caviar / Coconut Dashi / Lychee / Sea Grape

Chef Noah Sandoval


Oriole has received tons of awards since their opening. They earned two Michelin stars within the first year of opening and were named Best New Restaurant by Chicago Magazine. Below we highlight several key culinary trends Oriole is hitting with their summer menu:



Calling Out Color: "Golden" Ostera Caviar


Coconut Trend: "Coconut" is a huge buzzword right now. Of course coconut is a classic ingredient used in numerous ethnic cuisines, but the enormous coconut craze makes it seem almost as if coconut was rediscovered about five years ago. This trend has already trickled down to numerous categories outside of the food segment (especially personal care).

Click here to better understand how fine dining trends typically trickle down the market.

Japanese Influence:

Dashi: A traditional Japanese stock made using fish, kelp and seaweed. Dashis have an earthy, savory, and umami flavor. There are tons of creative twists to put on a classic dashi. In this dish, Chef Sandoval incorporates coconut.

Lychee: A Japanese fruit, small and rounded with sweet white scented flesh, a large central stone and a thin rough skin.


Novel Fruit Varietals: Sea Grapes, Coccoloba uvifera aka baygrape. Typically harvested in mid-late summer, sea grapes are small green fruits. They grow in clusters and turn a purple hue as they ripen. Each grape contains a big pit that makes up the bulk of the volume.


Milk Chocolate / Huckleberry / Preserved Shiitake Mushroom

pastry chef Karen Urie Shields


This dish is a terrific demonstration of three large holistic trends we are seeing with fine dining right now:


1. Distant cue to childhood sweets (with approachable flavors); 

Instead of using a bitter dark chocolate fit for a sophisticated palette or trendy “cacao” or “cocoa nib”, Smyth uses arguably the most child-friendly chocolate, milk chocolate.


2. Daring use of savory in confectionery concepts;

Chef Karen steps up the mild milk chocolate component with the pronounced, earthy-savory flavor of preserved shiitake mushrooms.


3. Virtual return to nature.

Numerous 2017 menus from influential restaurants have a high frequency use of terms like: "foraged", "wild", "soil" (Alter in Miami, FL refers to charred cauliflower as "Cauliflower Soil"), "vegetable leaves" (instead of calling out lettuce varietal), etc.

Additionally, fruits that are indigenous to un-landscaped, wild habitats — such as huckleberry — often cue "nature". Huckleberry can spark thoughts of forest preserves in Montana, hiking, "how to survive in the wild 101's" get the picture.


More about this restaurant:

Smyth = The fine dining branch, located on the first floor— with 5-course, 8-course, and 12-course tastings.

The Loyalist = Thoughtful, more approachable á la carte menu, located in the basement. But don't get fooled, their food and beverage program is on-point and is sure to wow even the fanciest self-proclaimed "foodie".


Want a free copy of our 2017 Culinary Trends report? Cool.
Click here to learn more + request a copy..