When we were selecting panelists for #createcultivateCHI Jeff Mahin stood out as the forward-thinking restaurateur we needed to nab. At 31, he is a chef/partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) and the creative force behind Stella Barra Pizzeria (Santa Monica, Hollywood, Chicago, North Bethesda), Summer House Santa Monica (Chicago, North Bethesda), Do-Rite Donuts (Chicago), and M Street Kitchen (Santa Monica). As regulars at Stella Barra in Santa Monica, the C+C staff already loved Jeff's food, and after getting to know the man (and Forbes 30 Under 30 alumna) behind the dishes we knew he'd be the dude to dish (pun intended) about finding a unique voice and vision in the ever-growing Food, Health, & Wellness space.
Name Jeff Mahin
Trade Partner/Chef at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
Panel The New Disruptors: How to Break Out in Food, Health, & Wellness
Favorite neighborhood in Chicago Before I moved to Los Angeles, I lived in Chicago for years. There are so many diverse neighborhoods and I've lived in many of them, but my favorite would have to be Lincoln Park. It’s the first neighborhood I moved to in Chicago so I have a lot of great memories there. Our restaurants Stella Barra and Summer House Santa Monica are also located there.
Best bar for a nightcap Violet Hour and Three Dots and a Dash. If I am with a bigger group or with friends from out of town, I’d go to Three Dots and a Dash. For a smaller group, or a date with my girlfriend, I’d go to Violet hour.
Your top spot for late night grub Allende Restaurante, a taqueria in Lincoln Park. They have the best al pastor taco I've ever had (even better than anywhere in L.A.) and they stay open until 3 a.m. When I first moved to Chicago and had no money, I would go there after work late at night to get a great meal for pretty cheap. In fact, I still eat there whenever I’m in town. I think it’s fair to say I have eaten at this restaurant more than anywhere else in the city. Lady Maria, who works there, is there every day and always remembers me.
Best Chi-town donut shop Do-Rite Donuts, of course! We have two locations in Chicago. There is a great variety of artisanal flavors like Pistachio Meyer Lemon, Candied Maple Bacon, and Valrhona Chocolate Cake, along with a selection of gluten-free and vegan donuts. But the one I’m most proud of is the most basic: a classic buttermilk old fashioned. We worked on perfecting this donut for a long time. The flavor brings back so many childhood memories.
What do you love most about Chicago? Chicago is a great, big city with amazing architecture. I love the diverse neighborhoods and the sky rises. But what I love most is that it doesn’t really have that big-city mentality. It’s a very warm, welcoming, and clean city.