Dating or being married to a chef, as anyone who is or has done so will tell you, can be trying. Being a chef's canine companion, though? Piece of cake. Or in the case of Bazooka, a 10-year-old beagle mix living in Lakeview, steak.
Bazooka lives with not one but two chefs: David and Anna Posey, the husband-wife team and Blackbird/Publican alumni who are opening a restaurant, Elske, on Randolph Street this fall.
As a dog, Bazooka isn’t able to express, in words at least, how dreamy this living situation is. But you can tell. Just looking at him, you can tell.
He’s a little chunky.
“He must love to eat,” a passerby said when Bazooka was on a walk last week. He gets that a lot. And yeah, he loves to eat. If your mom was a pastry chef and your dad a two-time James Beard Award nominee, wouldn’t you?
To be fair, nature plays a part. Beagles tend to be a “highly food-motivated” breed, says Bazooka’s vet, Dr. Tyler Williams of Banfield Pet Hospital in Lincoln Park. Basically, they enjoy eating, and are easy to train as a result. On top of that, “because the food’s so good, he’s probably eating more of it than he should,” says Williams.
The second David Posey starts rummaging around in the kitchen, Bazooka, in classic Pavlovian fashion, will hotfoot it over as quickly as his stubby, Corgi-like legs will allow.
“He will literally walk on David’s heels,” Anna says.
Whatever the Poseys fix as a meal or a snack for themselves, they share with Bazooka. This includes roasted chicken, steak, fish, mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, asparagus, blueberries—he loves blueberries!—carrots and green beans. Chefs don’t cook fancy at home.
David admits to slipping Bazooka bits of this or that while cooking. “All the time,” he says.
“David definitely spoils him,” Anna says.
But so does she. She’ll make stock from the roast chicken carcass and pour it over Bazooka's dry kibble. The oil and fat are supposed to help with his shedding, although it hasn’t really made much difference. “I think it’s just making him fatter,” she laughs.
When she made yogurt ice cream pops inspired by the so-called Elvis sandwich, combining peanut butter, banana, and bacon, Bazooka inhaled them. (Another hallmark of food-motivated pets: They tend to skip the chewing, “because they love their food so much,” Williams says.) Anna is thinking of ways to tweak the recipe (see below), perhaps adding gelatin for a protein boost.
You’ll notice that Bazooka’s diet is largely wholesome and from scratch. This does not preclude anyone in the Posey household from providing less-healthy treats, too.
The other day, Bazooka scored some of David’s meatball calzone from Panz, a neighborhood spot. Bobtail Ice Cream is another short jaunt from their apartment. And then there’s the shrimp cocktail platter from Whole Foods, their ultimate splurge.
“It turns out Bazooka’s favorite food is shrimp,” says Anna. “He goes nuts"—up on his hind legs, full whine.
He may seem spoiled now, but Bazooka also has lived through lean years. Anna got him as a pup about 10 years ago, when she was in art school in Milwaukee, figuring out her future. He moved with her to Delaware for her Americorps stint, to Chicago for pastry school, and to Philadelphia for her first kitchen job.
She was an intern at Blackbird in 2010 when she met David, the chef de cuisine. Bazooka endured long stretches alone in Anna's apartment while she was at work, though she made every effort to keep him engaged.
“He’s the reason I got denied a first date with her,” David says. “After work one night, I asked her out for drinks and she said, ‘No, I have to let my dog out.’ We had a rocky start."
But they did start dating and soon enough Anna and David—and Bazooka and David—were inseparable. When Anna was made executive pastry chef at Publican, it became clear that having Bazooka around wasn’t feasible with their work schedules, so Anna’s parents in suburban Milwaukee took him in. Anna and David visited frequently.
Now reunited, "we’re definitely in a better place,” says Anna.
Elske, their forthcoming restaurant at 1350 W. Randolph St., is in the construction phase, which allows both Poseys to be home more than usual. This also means a lot of home cooking balanced by three to four daily walks.
When the restaurant opens, the Poseys will be staring down 14-hour days. But they say it will be even more ideal than their current setup because they’re moving into the apartment above the restaurant.
Since their shifts will be staggered, Anna says she’ll be able to slip away early in the evening to check on Bazooka, who, like any dog, remains blissfully unaware of what’s ahead. Unless, of course, it’s food.
“Elvis” Doggie Ice Cream
There is a lot of room in this recipe to experiment with other dog-friendly ingredients; just keep the measurements the same. Yogurt is better for dogs than dairy without probiotics, but it doesn't hurt trying out different combinations as long as you’re sure it’s safe and healthy for canines. Other add-ins to consider: maple syrup, banana, blueberries, almond butter, or mashed sweet potato. – Anna Posey
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
- 1/3 cup honey, warmed
- 1 large very ripe banana, mashed
- 1 teaspoon bacon fat
- 4 bacon strips, cooked well and chopped into small pieces
1. Mix the yogurt and peanut butter together until combined well.
2. Add the warm honey, banana, bacon fat, and bacon bits. Mix well.
3. Spoon into cups or molds (see note below). Freeze overnight.
4. About 5 minutes before serving, take the ice cream out of the freezer so it softens a little.
Note: The mold size depends on how your dog eats. For smaller dogs, ice cube trays work well. For larger dogs, I recommend a pint-sized container.