DOWNTOWN — Former "Top Chef" contestant Spike Mendelsohn may have a Michelin Star background, but the burger joint he's bringing to Chicago will keep it casual.
Mendelsohn's Good Stuff Eatery will open its first Chicago restaurant Wednesday at 22 S. Wabash Ave. in Jewelers Row.
Mendelsohn, 34, grew up in Quebec and Florida with restaurateur parents who specialized in fine dining. He began visiting Chicago while his sister attended Columbia College, and told DNAinfo Chicago he's always admired the "great foodie scene" here.
He even competed against Chicago's own Stephanie Izard during the fourth season of "Top Chef."
Dave Matthews says there will be "farm fresh" burger options:
Yet after the show — and stops at Michelin-rated restaurants in France, Vietnam, and New York (among other locales) — Mendelsohn says he grew tired of high cuisine.
He opened the first Good Stuff Eatery in 2008 in Washington, D.C. The Jewelers Row restaurant opening Wednesday is the fifth store in the minichain, which he hopes to expand aggressively soon.
"We're trying to go national," Mendelsohn said. "We love our brand and what we do."
With so many upscale burger concepts entering Chicago, Mendelsohn said he hoped to distinguish Good Stuff Eatery with locally-sourced ingredients, including Illinois cattle and Wisconsin cheese.
He ages a childhood favorite, quebecois potatoes, for six months to give them a sweeter taste, and leaves the skin on the fries for more flavor, he explained at a preview Tuesday.
Additional selling points the Top Chef is banking on include gourmet milkshakes and a "mayo bar" with Sriracha and Chipotle-infused flavors.
The burgers range in price from $6.50 to $8.50. Guests can add a fry and soda for another $4.45, or $6.45 for fries and a shake.
One of his creations, the Prez Obama Burger with applewood bacon and Roquefort cheese, won the judges' prize at September's Hamburger Hop in Chicago.
"There's so many burger places, it's hard to compare all of them," he said.
Mendelsohn has since scratched his fine-dining itch by opening Béarnaise, also in Washington.
With that out of the way, he says his next step will be taking his fast-casual concepts national.
For the first time, he sold Chicago rights to franchisees Brian Dralle and Glenn Steinberg.
Mendelsohn also has a pizza concept, "We, The Pizza," that he says he hopes to import here.
Dralle said he's a Mendelsohn fan, and hopes to open more of the restaurants in neighborhoods like River North, the Gold Coast, and other Loop thoroughfares like LaSalle Street.
"I watched his show and visited D.C. quite a bit," Dralle said. "The food was amazing."
Doors open at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
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