In terms of sheer size, Time Out Market is going to be the biggest thing to hit Chicago’s food scene in 2019. With more than 50,000 square feet of space, 600 seats, 18 restaurants, three bars, a demo kitchen, an art gallery, and a rooftop bar (and that’s just what’s been announced so far) the scale of this project is absolutely massive. But there’s one big secret: What restaurants and chefs will actually be participating in this massive project?
Time Out Market announced its first set of eight restaurant partners back in March, but they’ve been tight-lipped about the rest. At least until now — CEO of Time Out Markets Didier Souillat sat down with me last week to talk about the market, the chefs participating, and some of the plans they have for the space.
First, the big news: the chefs and restaurants. Some exciting new names have been announced, including Abe Conlon of Fat Rice, John Manion of El Che and La Sirena Clandestina, Kevin Hickey of the Duck Inn, and Mark Steuer of Funkenhausen. In addition, Lost Larson will run the pastry program, Dos Urban Cantina will bring Mexican dishes, and FARE, a healthy quick-service spot in the Loop, will open an outpost at the market. Each kitchen is separate and custom-built; Manion’s kitchen, for example, will reflect El Che’s all-wood-fired ethos and have a large wood grill.
The goal of Time Out Market, says Souillat, is to allow diners to try a ton of different dishes without having to commit to one restaurant. That means prices will be kept relatively low and under tight control, especially since Time Out Market, not the restaurants, controls the point of sale systems. “A chef can’t start putting a dish that’s $40 on his menu, he just can’t do it. I’ll be surprised if there’s anything above $20,” says Souillat.
The difference between Time Out Market and other food halls, says Souillat, is the careful curation by the editorial team. Souillat consulted with the editors at Time Out Chicago for recommendations, and then carefully worked to select each participant. “First, we went to eat. I had to make sure for myself that it was the right thing, the right choice, and then we met with the chefs, one by one.”
Chicago will be the fourth American market, after New York, Boston, and Miami, and the largest, with more than twice the space of New York’s market. The space won’t just have the 18 Chicago options; there’s also a demo kitchen where the editors of Time Out can bring in guest chefs. This might be a chef from another city who is thinking about opening a location in Chicago and wants to test a new menu, or an up-and-coming chef who hasn’t found a space yet. There’s also an event space, and the catering options include everything from each of the restaurants in the Market.
The thing that excites Souillat most is the variety. “Imagine 18 kitchens with 10 dishes each. That means you’ll have 180 different dishes to try.”
And for when it expects to open? “I want to see the market open before the first snow falls,” says Souillat.