It’s the name of a restaurant in Chicago.
Len and I had the good fortune to score a 9:15pm dinner reservation during our recent visit. Girl and the Goat is a very hip, trendy, busy-as-all-get-out hotspot with a menu to match its quirky name. Last night’s offerings included pig face, escargot ravioli and—among several goat options—goat empanadas. The place has a high-energy buzz and practically vibrates with activity.
Chef-owner Stephanie Izard is the woman who makes it all work. In addition to her culinary skills, she also happens to be a 1998 graduate of the University of Michigan (sociology). Stephanie first catapulted onto the national food scene when she won the Bravo network’s Season Four Top Chef contest. From there she assembled the team and crafted the persona she wanted for Girl and the Goat, focusing on a menu of locally sourced food presented with a fresh approach.
But this post isn’t a restaurant review (though Girl and the Goat would get five stars if it were. The food was simply amazing). This is a #goblue story, really, a shout-out to U-M alumni who are thought leaders in the business of food. Stephanie joins a list of stellar Michigan graduates who have made an enormous impact in the industry: folks such as Ruth Reichl, the longtime editor of Gourmet magazine; Gabrielle Hamilton, owner of the popular Prune restaurant in NYC; TV chef Sara Moulton; and Rick Bayless, the chef whose interest in Mexican culture led to the famous Chicago eatery Frontera Grill (along with other restaurants, cookbooks, and cable shows).
These “food stars” continue to change the way we think about food and its preparation. They remind us about the importance of organic, local and authentic ingredients. They’ve challenged our parochial assumptions. They’ve taught us how to cook, for Pete’s sake. But they’re also insightful, savvy business people who have navigated and elevated the industry.
I had the chance to meet Stephanie briefly at the end of our meal. She was working in the kitchen, alongside the staff. “It’s been a crazy day, just crazy,” she laughed as she gave instructions for the next order. I imagine so. Girl and the Goat served more than 450 dinners that night.
Here’s a U-M recipe: Combine creative, super smart, hardworking, innovative and path-breaking. Mix well.
PS: My favorite dish during our small plates meal? The squash blossom crab rangoons. Just unbelievable, and pure genius.
— Lisa Rudgers (@lisarudgers) June 29, 2012
See more of my Chicago photos on my flickr feed.