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1633 N. Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60614

February 6, 2014

5:00 PM

PRICE: $115 per person inclusive

For Reservations please contact Balena:

(312) 867-3888


Balena, a James Beard Foundation Semi-Finalist, Best New Restaurant Midwest, is an Italian inspired restaurant located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Named by Bon Appetit as a “Top 50 Best New Restaurant” in 2012, Chef Chris Pandel’s menu consists of starters, pastas, pizzas, and main dishes from the hardwood grill. Beverages include handcrafted cocktails, an extensive wine list featuring over two hundred producers, and beers from around the world.


Working as a successful chef, restaurateur and author, Jonathan Waxman has graced such prestigious kitchens as Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Michael’s in Los Angeles. Waxman went on to open his own restaurant in New York City – Jams, as well as the famed Washington Park. Today, Waxman is the chef and owner of Barbuto in Manhattan's West Village. His first cookbook, A Great American Cook, was published in 2007. Giving back is important to Waxman and he works closely with many charities including City Meals on Wheels.

In 2013 Chef Jonathan was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef New York.

He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children. His cookbooks are are in bookstores now.


Gerard Craft hails from Washington, D.C. A college dropout, he got his first kitchen job washing dishes at a Salt Lake City pool hall named Fat's Bar & Grill and soon became addicted to restaurant life. Craft went on to cook at Bistro Toujours in Park City, UT, at the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station, NJ, and at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles before deciding to open his own restaurant in a midwestern city he'd never visited. With backing from his parents and brother, he was 25 when he bought a boarded-up building in the Benton Park neighborhood of St. Louis and opened niche in the fall of 2005. In 2008, he was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef and was the only chef named to Inc. magazine's roster of “star entrepreneurs”under 30 years old. The following year, he became a James Beard Best Chef-Midwest Finalist. Craft also extended the niche brand in 2009, opening Taste by niche, a modern speakeasy, and Brasserie by niche, a classic French eatery. The restaurants source their menus through relationships with more than 100 area farmers. Craft and his wife, Susan, have two daughters.

RESTAURANT Andrew Carmellini Restaurants, New York & Miami

I’m an American chef and restaurateur who lives and cooks in New York City. I’ve been in the game for twenty years, and I’ve cooked in some amazing places and tasted some amazing things. I love to cook food from all over the world. For me, it’s all about having a good time and making people happy. I started cooking at age fourteen at this local Italian joint in my hometown, Seven Hills, OH, then at a fine-dining French place on the lake. I moved east to go to school at the CIA, and spent my weekends cooking for New York’s Governor Mario Cuomo in Albany.

After I graduated, I came to Manhattan and spent some time on the line at San Domenico. Then I took off for Italy to work for Valentino Mercatile at San Domenico in Emilio-Romagna, plus a few other spots that were good enough to take me in. I hunted truffles, learned from pastafarians, and hung around with some Italians who made wine, cheese, and prosciutto.

I came back to New York to work with Gray Kunz at Lespinasse. After three years on the line there (and a four-star review from The New York Times), I headed back to Europe, where I spent a year cooking and traveling in France. My next gig: Opening sous chef at the new Le Cirque in Manhattan. Then in 1998, I opened Café Boulud as the chef de cuisine. Six years, two James Beard Awards, a Food & Wine Best New Chef nod and a three-star review from The New York Times later, I launched an Italian restaurant in Madison Square Park. I haven’t been affiliated with that restaurant since 2008, but I’ve got some good memories, it’s where I earned my first Michelin star.

In 2009, I opened Locanda Verde in Robert DeNiro’s Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca.

Next came The Dutch, a roots-inspired American restaurant I opened in SoHo with two of my partners from Locanda Verde–Josh Pickard and Luke Ostrom. Later that year, we took The Dutch on the road down to Miami Beach, Florida not too far from where my grandfather ran The Surf Club back in the day.

This past October I got involved up at The Public Theater making sure everybody there had something nice to eat and something good to drink inside Joe’s Pub, one of my favorite music venues in the city, and The Library at The Public.

As you’re reading this, Josh, Luke and I have just opened Lafayette in NoHo, our French grand café and bakery open morning, noon and night on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Street inside a Hardenbergh landmark building.

I have also written two cookbooks with my wife, Gwen Hyman: Urban Italian: True Stories and Simple Recipes from a Life In Food (Bloomsbury) and American Flavor (Ecco/HarperCollins).

RESTAURANT Incanto, San Francisco CA

Chef Chris Cosentino’s passion for Italian food began while growing up in an Italian-American community in Rhode Island. Chris is a 1992 graduate of Johnson & Wales University and veteran of top-notch restaurant kitchens including Red Sage in Washington, D.C. and Rubicon, Chez Panisse, Belon, & Redwood Park in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to joining Incanto in 2002, Chef Cosentino served as a consulting chef for the Aqua Restaurant Group in San Francisco and Las Vegas and the Kimpton Group in San Francisco and Aspen.

Chris has developed close relationships with local farmers through his dedicated involvement with the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market and other Bay Area farmer’s markets. A part-time professional bicyclist, Chris enjoys spending time away from the kitchen participating in 24-hour endurance races on his single-gear mountain bike. You can learn more about Chris and his passion for cooking at Chris’ website, OffalGood.com

RESTAURANT Balena, Chicago IL

The Bristol and Balena are excited to announce Chef Sarah Koechling as their new pastry chef. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from College of Wooster, in Ohio, Sarah attended Chicago’s French Pastry School and then went on to work as the pastry assistant in Everest Restaurant. After two years at Everest, Sarah moved to the west coast where she worked as sous pastry chef at Quince in San Francisco and pastry chef at Patina in LA and Baguetier Bakery in Huntington Beach. During her time on the left coast, Sarah also teamed up with iconic Chef Daniel Boulud and Chef Jonathan Waxman at LA Food & Wine and provided the dessert course for the James Beard 25th Anniversary Party.

Sarah now returns to her pastry roots of Chicago with an exciting dessert program for The Bristol and Balena. Some of her initial dishes will include a Pear Crostata filled with apple butter and topped with crème fraiche gelato and a Chocolate & Hazelnut Croccante, served with a citrus marmalade, krispies, and gianduja gelato (Sarah’s take on an upscale Kit Kat Bar).

RESTAURANT Balena, Chicago IL

Chris Pandel’s food is rooted in classic French technique highlighting seasonal, local ingredients. An Illinois native, Pandel began his culinary career working at a restaurant in his hometown of Riverside. From there he moved on to Courtright’s in Willow Springs, a favorite fine-dining spot for Chicagoans. Next, Pandel attended Johnson & Wales University, during which time he interned at Chicago’s Tru for Chef Rick Tramonto. Pandel then headed to New York where he worked at Café Boulud under Chef Andrew Carmellini. He eventually returned to Chicago, and to Tru, which eventually led to a position as corporate chef for three Tramonto restaurants. Of his mentors, Pandel says Carmellini molded him into a cook, and Tramonto, gave him a “sense of self” in the kitchen and the know-how needed to run a business. In 2008, Pandel opened The Bristol with partners John Ross and Phillip Walters. His menu focuses on locally sourced, seasonal dishes with a Mediterranean influence. Balena, Pandel’s second restaurant with John Ross and Phillip Walters, an ode to Italian Influenced simplicity, opened Late March 2012.