Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Pre-order Book!
Pre-order Book!
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

SAVOR Chef James Sanders gets 'Dirty' with Southern cuisine
DISH Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-08-02

This article shared 2231 times since Sun Aug 2, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Chef James Sanders—after navigating everything from working for the Chicago Bears to living the quintessential corporate life—is reopening Dirty Birds Southern Kitchen on Friday, Aug. 4, at 8052 S. Racine Ave., in Chicago's Auburn Gresham neighborhood. ( However, people should not despair if they can't make it to its casual spot for its Nashville hot chicken as well as its red velvet chicken and waffles, as items will be available on GrubHub and UberEats. )

Sanders talked with Windy City Times about the restaurant, the perception of Auburn Gresham and how he's helping people during the pandemic.

Windy City Times: I read that you got started in the culinary arts because you were bored with your mom's cooking. What was your mom cooking?

James Sanders: When I was younger, my dad worked the 11 p.m.-7 a.m shift; my mother worked 3-11 p.m., so my dad was asleep. So after my homework, I just started cooking, and the reason I started is because I got the same meal three or four days a week—fried chicken, mashed potatoes and a can of green beans.

One day I guess the chef in me came out because I was frustrated and I said, "I wish you could start cooking something else." At this point, my dad told me, "Never depend on anyone to cook for you." After that, I just started cooked, and I fell in love with it. I didn't even know what I was cooking half the time; I'd put tons of garlic powder on things.

I also made my dad lunch for work. I don't think he even ate it—I think he just dumped it out. [Interviewer laughs.] But that was the highlight of my childhood.

I went to SIU-Carbondale, and I always cooked for my fraternity brothers. When I moved to Chicago, I was an account manager at AT&T; I loved it and made great money, but the job didn't fulfill me. I ended up going to culinary school at the Art Institute of Chicago. So my days started at 7 a.m. for work; then, classes would be 5-10 p.m. and I'd work in the Chicago Bears kitchen from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. I did that for a year straight.

WCT: What was working for the Chicago Bears like?

JS: It was funny: I entered all super-cocky, and they put me in the dish room. I was heated—I was so upset! But I'm glad I went through that process so I could learn every part of the kitchen. It was a great experience. Every day is a lesson.

WCT: Let's talk about Dirty Birds. I saw the menu and said, "This menu speaks to me [and my upbringing]." For our readers, how would you describe your menu?

JS: The biggest thing with Dirty Birds is that we make everything fresh every day. We pick and clean greens the day before, and we cook them that morning. We make our cornbread from scratch. We make our own red-velvet waffle batter. When you order your food, that's when we cook it. Sometimes it's a 15- or 20-minute wait— but it's worth it. People know the difference between fresh chicken and chicken that's been sitting under the lights.

We just put our heart into [the dishes]. Like the Hoppin' John [also known as also known as black-eyed peas and rice]—we're probably the only restaurant in Chicago that sells it, and it's one of our most popular dishes. And we sell a lot of fried green tomatoes.

WCT: On another front, you're involved with a project to help people in rehabilitation centers in Chicago.

JS: So I have a catering company by the name of Fuze Catering. We're doing several different initiatives in the city of Chicago. One of them involves providing meals to a drug-rehabilitation center; we do 900 meals seven days a week. I've also been helping people going through financial difficulties because of the pandemic, so I've been working with Progressive Baptist Church, so we give out 900 meals ( 300 meals a day ) there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

WCT: What spurred you to get involved?

JS: You know what? I read a story a couple years ago, and it really hit home. I was blessed to have two great parents who provided a foundation for me; my mother always had an amazing heart, and I guess I got that from her. I read an article about CPS [Chicago Public Schools] kids being homeless—and I found out that the reason CPS never called school off was so kids could get at least one balanced meal a day.

Even at the restaurant, we gave 10-15 meals a day because people said they were hungry. I don't know if it's a scam or what, but I know where it came from when I gave the meals away. I just don't believe that anyone should be hungry at all.

WCT: When some people hear "Auburn Gresham," they unfortunately picture an ultra-violent area that had to deal with a rise in COVID-19 infections. Putting on your PR hat, what do you say to those who have negative perceptions of that area?

JS: I never put a dark cloud on Auburn Gresham; there are good and bad people all over Chicago. I think Auburn Gresham is a close-knit community, and I felt the love they showed me when I opened here.

Actually, I'm at a food desert. And for me to come here with quality foods… We're beyond fried chicken and French fries. Why can't I put out a well-thought-out menu? We have blackened catfish, grilled chicken and smoked turkey legs. I'm glad we have healthy alternatives. We're really trying to push the envelope with the food at this restaurant.

See DirtyBirdsSouthernKitchen.com .


This article shared 2231 times since Sun Aug 2, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SAVOR Takito Street 2021-05-09
- Takito Street (2423 N. Lincoln Ave.; http://takitostreet.com/) is the third in the Takito line of restaurants (along with Takito Kitchen and Bar Takito)—a string of restaurants offering playful vibes, fresh ...


Gay News

Dining Out for Life taking place May 16-22 2021-05-06
- The annual event Dining Out for Life will take place May 16-22 throughout Chicago and Evanston. Participants dine in, order takeout/delivery or purchase gift cards from their favorite restaurants and donate directly to TPAN to support ...


Gay News

Windy City Smokeout to return July 8-11 2021-04-29
- The outdoor country-music/BBQ festival Windy City Smokeout will return to Chicago on July 8-11 outside the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St. Hosted by BBQ joint Bub City and the venue Joe's Bar, the event will ...


Gay News

Chicago restaurants receive Michelin stars 2021-04-29
- Local restaurants, old and new, received Michelin stars April 29, according to a Chicago Tribune article. The Michelin Guide's annual ratings play a significant role in anointing restaurant industry royalty ...


Gay News

SAVOR Cluck It/Cowch Burger/Oona 2021-04-24
- A sign that things are slowly returning to some semblance of normal activity is when businesses expand. Such is the case with Cluck It/Cowch Burger (https://www.cluckitchicago.com/), which co-owners/spouses Cainan Edwards ...


Gay News

SAVOR Sam's Crispy Chicken and Umami Burger 2021-04-08
- Sam's Crispy Chicken (SamsCrispyChicken.com) and Umami Burger (UmamiBurger.com), both from C3 (Creating Culinary Communities) and both at 945 W. Randolph St., have launched new food and beverage menus—although indulgence i ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: 'Astrographics,' 'Mapplethorpe' and more 2021-03-22
- —'Astrographics' at theMart (starting April 1): Art on theMART (at what used to be known as Merchandise Mart) will resume projections Thursday, April 1, with the world premiere of Astrographics—a ...


Gay News

Webinar to spotlight secret gay life of culinary giant James Beard May 5 2021-03-12
--From a press release - James Beard, who changed how Americans eat, is spotlighted on May 5 with an entertaining live webinar by Food Network star Ted Allen, and author John Birdsall. In the Kitchen Closet takes place May 5 at ...


Gay News

SAVOR Wood: Boystown/Northalsted spot returns 2021-03-09
SAVOR - Some people may snicker when they hear that there's a restaurant named Wood (3335 N. Halsted St.; WoodChicago.com) in the city's Boystown/Northalsted neighborhood—and there is even a currently discontinued Sunday ...


Gay News

SAVOR Nonnina: New team maintains high standards 2021-03-04
- I'm not gonna lie: I was a little concerned about Nonnina (340 N. Clark St.; NonninaChicago.com). News trickled down that the highly esteemed team of Executive Chef Tony Priolo and business partner Ciro Longobardo (who are ...


Gay News

National Restaurant Association Show cancelled 2021-02-26
- Event organizers of the National Restaurant Association Show announced the cancellation of the 2021 National Restaurant Association Show, which was scheduled to take place May 22-25 at Chicago's McCormick Place. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois ...


Gay News

Spots revealed for Chicago Restaurant Week 2021 2021-02-26
- The venues participating in Chicago Restaurant Week (March 19-April 4) have been revealed. This year's participants include a range of restaurants throughout Chicagoland offering specially priced, prix fixe menus for ...


Gay News

Chicago Southland Restaurant Week on Feb. 21-27 2021-02-11
- The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau announced the launch of the inaugural Chicago Southland Restaurant Week. Designed to promote Chicago Southland restaurants while encouraging residents and visitors to support ...


Gay News

SAVOR Cafe Press--steeped in history 2021-02-09
- Like most neighborhoods in Chicago, Printers Row has its own illustrious history. In the 1880s, the neighborhood was the center of the Midwest when it came to printing—hence the area's name. And Cafe Press (800 S. ...


Gay News

Chicago Restaurant Week returning in 2021 2021-02-03
- Choose Chicago has announced the return of Chicago Restaurant Week on March 19-April 4, 2021. Chicago Restaurant Week offers local food enthusiasts an opportunity to experience some of the city's most highly sought restaurants. Participating dining ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.