What Eataly is to Italian food and IKEA is to chic Swedish furniture and meatballs, Local Foods will be to the Midwest. Come tomorrow, June 30, Chicago will be home to a brand new 27,000 square foot facility in Bucktown that contains an all day, every day indoor farmers' market, a butcher shop, a cafe, a wholesale food hub, and so much more.
The sprawling new Midwestern market serves as an edible homage to our culinary region, showcasing farm-fresh ingredients in a plethora of mediums, from an entryway mural by local artist Sarah Becan to ingredients prime for home cooks and restaurateurs alike. Inspired in part by the notion of maintaining a farmers' market year round, Local Foods acts in part as an indoor farmers' market that provides shoppers with that farm-to-basket experience whenever they crave it. Local, family-manned farms supply the provisions for the ever rotating roster of groceries, many of which are certified organic or support the Slow Food Ark of Taste practices. This encompasses everything from herbs and root vegetables to berries, meats, cheeses, eggs, herbs and everything in between.
One important facet of Local Foods is The Butcher & Larder, a local butcher shop that rose to prominence as one of Chicago's first sustainable whole-animal butcher shops. Owned by venerable restaurant vets Rob and Allie Levitt, the butcher shop closed down its original Noble Square locale for bigger digs within Local Foods, an opportunity that afforded the Levitts ample expansion not only in size, but also breadth of product and services for the public and for wholesale accounts. The butcher shop maintains that same charming, nostalgic Americana butcher counter vibe, only larger and much more substantial.
Hungry? Mosey over to Stock, a chef-driven on-site cafe that serves to cook up and showcase the wonderful array of locally derived products right in front of your eyes (and mouths). Helmed by farmer/chef Abra Berens, Stock features a rotating arsenal of seasonally focused sandwiches, soups, pasties, sweets, and meat & cheese boards. Also, Stock will feature "Blue Plate Specials," with items like ratatouille and brisket.
Guests can get interactive at Local Foods' educational center, which will feature recurring chef demonstrations, butchering demos, sausage-making classes, grain-milling workshops, business events, and beyond. In another sector of the building, HandCut Foods is Local Foods' partner company operating its school and catering business.
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg of this palatial Midwestern Mecca. Check it out for yourself June 30.
Photos: Local Foods