Food & Drink | June 28, 2022 7:00 am

Chicago’s James Beard Alums Want to Feed You With This Limited-Edition Gift Box

Top-quality picks from Stephanie Izard, Darnell Reed, Edward Kim and more

selection of sauces and other condiments
What's inside the James Beard gift box.
James Beard

The Oscars of food returned this month for the first time since 2020, with the James Beard Foundation hosting the Awards at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. To celebrate, Here Here Market, a local purveyor of meal kits and gift boxes, has launched a special JBF Chicago Alumni box — the perfect way for home cooks to bring the flavors of the city home.

The curated box features products from previous Beard award winners like 2013 Best Chef: Great Lakes recipient Stephanie Izard and 2017 Best Chef: Great Lakes recipient Sarah Grueneberg. (This year, the honor went to Erick Williams of Virtue Restaurant & Bar, who previously shared his technique for overcoming beet-phobia with InsideHook.)

The Deluxe Box ($73) includes: 

Chef Reed, a 2022 nominee for Best Chef: Great Lakes, said he was honored to be asked to contribute an offering alongside a group of chefs he sees as “some of Chicago’s best.” His addition to the box is a play on a classic Chicago mix, albeit with a bit of an upscale spin.

“I’d describe it as a Chef’s Chicago Mix,” he says of his recipe, which is named after his great-grandmother, Luella, nicknamed Baye by Reed’s father. His Baye’s Mix begins with local corn sourced from Three Sisters Farm in Kankakee, which is coated in a caramel made not from the brown sugar (which he says most use for efficiency’s sake) but rather slowly caramelized cane sugar. The result, says the chef, boasts “a difference that you can taste and a crunch that’s unmatched.”

“It made its way into the box because it was a favorite in the Here Here office,” he claims.

Proceeds from sales of the box support local chefs and up-and-coming culinary talent alike through a dedicated scholarship first established by the James Beard Foundation in 1991, explains Here Here Market CEO Disha Gulati. Crafting the box, she says, provided “an incredible opportunity to work with these locally and nationally-renowned organizations in the food and hospitality industry.”

“What’s great about the Chicago food scene, and these boxes, is that it is so diverse,” says Gulati, who notes that the products and chefs the company chose to highlight represent the breadth and depth of the local culinary landscape. “To us, that is Chicago — not just hot dogs and pizza, but the food you’ll find at beloved restaurants in town, from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.”

“We have access to great farmers, one of the best restaurant scenes in the country and knowledgeable customers,” adds Reed. “I’m not sure if there’s a better city to hone your skills.”