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Intro Lands Buzzy Young Chef Who Ran Illicit Restaurant out of his Dorm Room

The food he was cooking out of his Columbia University home had gotten national acclaim.

Reider’s rhubarb and clove compote with almond and cardamom crumble   Photo: Gaul Porat

Intro (2300 N. Lincoln Park West, Lincoln Park, 773-868-0002), the ever-changing eatery that has given a leg up to many a Chicago chef, welcomes an exciting new up-and-comer next month. Jonah Reider comes to Chicago for a monthlong stint of collaborative cooking with Intro executive chef Stephen Gillanders.

That name may sound a little familiar: Last year, Reider started serving an eight-course tasting menu out of his dorm room at Columbia University—until the university shut it down, that is. The concept, aptly named Pith, had quickly became one of the hardest-to-get reservations in town and drew accolades from both local and national media. Ruth Reichl even chimed in, calling Reider’s food “impossible to stop eating.”

For his part, Reider is just as interested in the act of dining as in preparing boundary-pushing food. “I majored in sociology,” he says, “and I love thinking about dining as this social act.” The stint at Intro came together when Scott Barton, the Lettuce Entertain You exec who oversees Intro, reached out to Reider on Instagram. “I get a lot of weird messages on Instagram,” says Reider. “Mostly people looking for free stuff, or trying to hook up in a less-savory way. So it was a really nice surprise to see something like a legit, exciting business offer.”

Reider flew out to Chicago to meet the LEYE crew and spent a little time on the line at Intro to get his bearings. After a few weeks remotely workshopping a potential menu with Gillanders, Reider will step into the Intro kitchen again on September 15. Diners can get a taste of his much-hyped food in two different formats: a $95-per-person multi-course communal supper club, and à la carte (select dishes only) in the main dining area throughout Reider’s stay.

As for what that menu will hold, Reider is still stewing on it. “I still have a lot to learn, and Stephen [Gillanders] is teaching me a lot. I respect him so much—if he thinks [something] needs to be different in some way, we’re going to change it.”

However, Reider was able to share a few of the ideas that he’s kicking around in the kitchen. On the savory side, a venison tartare with porcini mushrooms, juniper, and something seasonal, like quince or apples, to give the dish a clean, crisp crunch. Other possibilities: pumpkin and ground pork with coriander seeds, and shiso and sesame leaves, and celeriac soup with parsnips, hops, and smoked maple syrup. For dessert, Reider has in mind a panna cotta with apple cider syrup and sea salt, as well as a fall berry galette with cardamom ice cream.

“I want to translate my excitement for cooking to diners,” says Reider. “I hope it comes across that I’m super, super stoked for this opportunity.”

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