Normally, I'm not a fan of chain restaurants, however I do have some exceptions (Olive Garden, anyone?). Well, aside from my guilty pleasure of Olive Garden, I've added McCormick & Schmick's to the list of chain restaurant likes. McCormick & Schmick's is a seafood restaurant chain but should also be noted for their steaks as well.
I've been to McCormick & Schmick's years ago but I can't honestly say the restaurant left an impression where my previous visit was memorable... until now. I was recently invited by a public relations representative of McCormick & Schmick's to dine with them for a special wine paired dinner prepared by several area McCormick & Schmick's chefs. Accompanying me was my mother in law, so we could enjoy some time together. Little did I know what deliciousness awaited us!
After some mingling over sushi, sake and martinis, it was time for the formal dinner. Joining us for this special dinner were three other esteemed Chicago foodies and their guests, namely Tammy Green of Chicago Bites, Josh Brusin of Chicago Foodies, and Stephanie Callahan of Chicago Now. It was great being among fellow foodies, some of which I've met before. However on this night, Five area chefs from Chicago, Wisconsin, and Kansas came together to prepare an amazing six course dinner for our intimate dinner group. Each chef was responsible for one course, highlighting various combinations for each. Our first course was oysters...
From Left: (1) John McGowan, Executive Chef, M&S Skokie; (2) Domhnall Molloy, Senior Executive Chef, M&S Chicago; (3) Carlos Farias, Executive Chef, M&S Chicago Wacker Drive in the Loop; (4) Dan Smith, Executive Chef, M&S Milwaukie, WI (at Wauwatosa Mall); (5) Mike "Wally" Wallach, Executive Chef, M&S Chicago Rush & Chestnut location.
The wonderful meal we enjoyed were made with care by these above chefs. My hats off to each of them for a job well done. Being in culinary school, I certainly have a greater appreciation for what these chefs do in the kitchen and I know what kind of time and effort went into each plate we were served. After our dinner, we had a chance to meet and talk with the chefs. I will say that speaking with each of them was probably the highlight of the evening for me. It was great to talk about their inspiration for the courses they prepared, their own personal journey in their career as a chef and getting some advice from them about being in the food service/culinary art industry. These chefs reconfirmed my passion for cooking and being in the industry and I left inspired with their stories. In fact, I plan on getting some on the job experience with one of the chefs in the future by observing their service on a weekend and perhaps jumping in where I may be needed to help.
My thanks go out to the staff of McCormick & Schmick's for all their work to put together a successful dinner and memorable experience for us. We will most definitely be back and will think of McCormick & Schmick's as a great restaurant to go to for seafood and steak. If you have a McCormick & Schmick's restaurant near you, I encourage you to check them out and be prepared for a wonderful meal and exceptional service.