HOW WE ROLL: The Final Three


Over here at Union/MCC headquarters, the month of February was unofficially sushi month. We had our How We Roll contest, put together a few videos showing you how Chao rolls, and even had a little mayoral sushi.

And then we got down to the real work: choosing our final three contestants. Now that–that was a challenge. After reading through pages and pages of some of the most bizarre, hilarious, and delicious-sounding rolls we’ve encountered, we’ve narrowed it down to a final three. These three rolls were chosen based on their creativity and, well, how good we think they’ll taste.

The three contestants below will be joining us for an exclusive, sneak peek dinner at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar (before it’s open to the public) for the final judge’s table, and the winner will win a $500 Southwest gift card and a spot on our opening menu (which is coming together quite nicely, thank you for asking).

Without further ado, we give you the finalists…


Tammy Brody’s

Fried pork belly strips, hamachi, cucumber, orange tobiko, scallions, chili paste, crispy tempura crumbs and a zig-zag of eel sauce over the top. Served with pickled radish on the side.

Libby Christopoulos’

Hard boiled egg chopped in long strips, cucumber, mash cooked yolk, mayo, chipotle, diced sweet pickle and juice, salt, pepper and bacon.

Jason Gasbarra’s

Seared fois gras, tempura style lobster, grilled pear, micro greens. Garnish with masago and serrano aoli.

Mike and Chao Want To Know: How Do YOU Roll?

The square white dish isolated

If you’ve been reading our blog, then you probably have a pretty good idea of how we roll… Now we want to get to know you! That’s right, for the month of February, we’re offering an exclusive opportunity to win a spot on Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar’s opening menu. But, we didn’t think that was enough, so we threw in an event and a little travel opportunity as well (see the list on the right).The best part is: it’s ridiculously simple to enter. Tell us about your roll, give it a creative name and a way for us to contact you, and you’re entered. ALL ENTRIES DUE BY FEBRUARY 28. ONLY ONE ROLL SUBMISSION PER PERSON.


Prime billing on our menu, based on recipe, taste, and name creativity. Chao’s already struggling with the concept, so you better bring it.


Exclusive, sneak peek dinner at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar (before it’s open to the public) for the final judge’s table with top three rolls.


Grand prize winner will receive a $500 gift certificate for Southwest Airlines for their own Mike and Chao Chow-style voyage, later featured on our blog!

How about a quick look at the competition?

Just the names of some of the rolls that have been submitted so far… that should give you a taste of some of the creative entries we’ve got rolling (ha!) in.

  • Rockin’ Purple Haze Roll
  • La Flama Blanca
  • The Yellow Pearrot
  • Pura Vida
  • Herroll
  • Thor’s Thunder Roll
  • Eye of the Tiger
  • Rollin’ with the Hogs!
  • Okonomicrazy
  • Communist’s Daughter
  • Some Like It Raw
  • ‘Za Shi
  • Union Square
  • Jumba-liar
  • Hope and Sesame
  • Eelsunrise Roll
  • The Belly Roll
  • Naughty and Nice
  • Wisconsinaki
  • Weiner’s Circle
  • The Spicy Geggie Roll
  • Roll like D-Rose
  • The BTMG

…and that’s just the beginning.


In order to qualify for the Grand Prize in our How We Roll Contest, the top three applicants must be available to attend the sneak peek dinner at Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar and participate in the final judges’ table. Submissions will be judged on ingredients, originality, and name creativity. We will be taking submissions from February 1, 2011 until February 28, 2011. Please note: We will only be accepting ONE roll per applicant.

By entering into the “How We Roll” Contest (the “Contest”), any and all ideas a participant provides in any way as part of the Contest, including but not limited to inventions, discoveries, developments, names, artwork, recipes, techniques, sources of information, ideas or innovations are hereby and irrevocably the property of Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar and may be used in its operations for an infinite duration in any way Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar deems appropriate.

Bears vs. Eagles Ultimate Tailgate Chaodown

About a month ago, we decided it was time for some IRL Twitter socializing (see our post Heed the Call: Dining Duos Unite!). It turns out it’s way easier to convince people to socialize with you if you’re offering them front row, 50-yard-line Bears tickets, right behind the Bears’ bench. Weird, right? So, we had a little contest, asking our Twitter followers to enter themselves and their favorite eating partner by submitting a photo.

But, then we were faced with the problem: What’s a Bears game without some tailgating? And we certainly couldn’t go with your average tailgating–these were prime seats, all we do is talk about food, and one of us is a chef. In short, we were looking into some prime tailgating.

The Winners

So, fast forward a few weeks of tweeting, looking at photos of other dining duos like ourselves, and, finally, a trip to the random number generator… [drumroll] And the winners were: Sarah Spain & Brad Zibung (pictured on the left with Chao). See @SarahSpain and @The_Heckler‘s winning tweet/photo on the right.

Sarah Spain is a reporter for, a Sportscenter Anchor at ESPN1000, and is holding a 40 in the photo above. Anyone who’s met her loves her AND knows she kicks ass. The day of the big game/tailgating, she was bouncing around the South Lot crowd interviewing, talking, drinking some brews, along with her partner in crime.

The Mike and Chao Guide
to Pro Tailgating

As we said earlier, the next task at hand was the matter of our tailgating. This couldn’t be your run-of-the-mill hot dogs and a van setup… Based on our experience, we’ve put together a few pointers, steps if you will, toward recreating an epic tailgate like this one.

Step 1: The Bus

Yes, it’s important that you buy a fully-loaded, wrapped party bus for your tailgating experience. Or, do what we did and find friends that already have one.

Thanks to our friend Chris and the rest of his crew, we were able tailgate alongside the ultimate, fully tricked-out bus, complete with enough Bears branding to ensure no onesees them driving and wonders, “I wonder who they’re rooting for…” The stereo comes out, the flatscreen TV goes up, and the flags are hoisted. Hats off to you, bus owners.

Step 2: The Flag

Could we have survived under the existing flags–U.S., Chicago, COLD BEER, Bears, etc.? Yes. Did we make our own flag anyway? Yep. Because having your own flag means you’re important and worth talking to (sort of). And from now on, wherever the MCC flag is flown, there will be food. And it will be good. (One of the symptoms of having your own flag is making a lot of proclamations.)


Step 3: The Outdoor Kitchen

Take a couple of folding tables, brimming coolers, and a trusty Coleman grill, and you’ve got an outdoor kitchen. Add in Chao and you’ve got the tailgating spread of your dreams. Chao was manning the grill all afternoon, not even taking a break to rock out a little, as seen in this video. In a couple hours time he handed out a small feast to our considerable group of friends, family, relative strangers, Twitter friends, and strangers returning for second helpings.

For the day’s menu, Chao did Wagyu beef slider with grilled pineapple, quail egg, cilantro, red onion and sesame soy sauce, and “The Chao Dog,” Chao’s special hot link with cream cheese, cucumber, tomato, caramelized onions, and sweet chile sauce. Take a look at these shots from the day–food, people eating food, Chao cooking food, etc.

Step 4: Location, Location, Location

It’s all about the South Lot: this is where the TRUE Bears fans hang. Drive up and you start to see the flags–no, we weren’t the only ones. (But we might have been the only ones with a flag for a food blog!) The lot itself is a buzzing camp of Bears infantry heading off to war: think organized chest-beating meets semi-intoxicated wing-eating.

Step 5: Cake?

If Chao’s cooking didn’t set us apart, our f*%!ing awesome cake did. The crew at Bleeding Heart Bakery made us a giant cake in the shape of a Bears helmet. Michelle and Vinny truly outdid themselves–the only thing better than looking at the cake was eating it. If only we were better at cutting it: check out the slideshow below to see our struggle…


And those are our five steps to a killer tailgate. Well, we could probably add a 6th for “good company” or something, but you can see in the photos above that we definitely had that, in abundance. You’d think that, given the length of this post, the day was over at that point, but we still had a few hours to put in watching the Bears take down the Eagles. And here’s what that looked like:


Mike and Chao Double Down

This blog has inspired me (Mike). For too many years my dining life has taken a back burner to my office life. Go ahead and judge me, but I have on more than one occasion turned down a dinner invite because I had… work to do. And so now, without further ado, I say: NO MORE. I quit my job last week.

Now, what do you do when you find yourself riddled with free time and your final bonus check? That’s right, you go to VEGAS.


Continue reading Mike and Chao Double Down

Heed The Call: Dining Duos Unite!

As the title of our blog implies, we’re kind of a duo (no funny business). So when we came across four tickets to the Nov. 28 Bears vs. Eagles game, we decided we should open it up to all of you–anyone reading our blog, tweeting with @mikeandchaochow, etc.


Here’s the idea. It’s a contest. Let’s get all the very best of the best dining duos, across Chicagoland, together for a little Thanksgiving weekend tailgate action at Soldier Field. We’ll eat. We’ll drink. Chao will cook. (see previous post if you’re concerned about Chao’s abilities). Sounds fun. You want to join, huh? Well, we’re going to make you work for it.


Calling All Dining Duos

Tweet us a picture of you and your favorite dining partner, the Mike to your Chao (or the Chao to your Mike), the Bill to your Ted, the Hall to your Oates, the Cheech to your Chong…we could keep going all day with this…give us 140 characters on why your dining duo rocks. Make us laugh. Make us cry. You get the point.

The best tweets will be welcome to join our tailgate on November 28 for food, drink and fun. We’ll tweet at you and let you know if you made the grade by November 24.

It gets better though… The VERY BEST duo will join us inside the stadium come game time. We should probably mention that these aren’t just any tickets. These are behind the bench, 50-yard line: Section 138, row 1, seats 5-8 (check out the view). Chao and I do things right.


So, tweet us a picture, or tell us why you like eating with that person (they always know the best new places/they always pick up the bill?), tell us what you like to eat together, whatever. Just let us know and we’re going to sort through all of them, very scientifically, and pick the pair with the best answers (i.e., the ones we’d like to go to a Bears game with the most).