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.

Mike and Chao Throw a Party

Group-Photo-MCC1In case you hadn’t heard on Twitter, we threw a killer party last week. Long story short, Chao has been itching to cook and it was Mike’s birthday, so we rounded up some friends, including several we’d never met (thank you, Twitter) and had what we hope to be the first in a series of many similar shindigs. (Photo above: group shot with two of our special guests for the evening. Tim Huizenga of Rock Sake, third from right, and our buddy DC Crenshaw, far left.)

Now, most people would say, “It’s our first one, we should just do a couple of courses, nothing crazy.” Not Chao. Chao said, “Let’s do, say, 17 courses?” Because that seems doable. Continue reading Mike and Chao Throw a Party

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 ESPNChicago.com, 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:


It’s Not You. It’s Your Kitchen.

This past week, Mike and I decided it was time to put in a few hours in the kitchen. Well, I decided, and I spent the majority of the time in the kitchen… but it felt really good to get behind the stoves again. As much as I love having a little time off, I’ve missed it.

So now you’re imagining Chao getting back on the metaphorical saddle–shaking a frying pan, testing a sauce, that sort of thing? I was quickly reminded of the serious drawbacks of being a home cook.

Take this photo, for example. You’ll see a few things wrong.


Mike did actually help, but I had to take advantage of that photo and rag on him just a little bit. You’d do the same, I am sure. But I’m getting off topic. Back to some of the downfalls and lessons learned in a West Loop condominium kitchen.

Lesson #1: TRASH

No matter where you cook, there will be a surplus of trash and recycling to deal with. It’s a fact of life, and it’s something that Mike’s bachelor pad starter trash can really couldn’t handle.

Which is why I brought in an industrial trash can. When you read the rest of this post, you’ll understand why taking the trash out every twenty minutes was not something I was interested in doing.

Lesson #2: DISHES

I went in a chef; I left a broken man with dishpan hands. Just kidding. Sort of. You’ll notice there is in fact a dishwasher in the photo, which is definitely nice to have, but it’s no match for the dishwashing team in a dishwashing room that I have become accustomed to in a restaurant kitchen.

After almost every step/dish, you have to go back and wash all the things you’ll need again in a few minutes–because there is only one set of tools (one blender, one frying pan, two pots…)

Lesson #3: TOOLS

So now we have a serious lack of implements, not to mention a kitchen–though nice, Mike–that wasn’t what you’d call “expansive.” (Although, I’ve worked in smaller, now that I think about it.) Beyond that, there’s also the quality of the tools/appliances around you.

Mike’s fridge was what you’d call ten pounds of s*** in a five-pound bag, and I won’t even begin to tell you about the drawbacks of a home stove/oven. (The ovens most chefs are used to would make the model in your kitchen look like an Easy Bake).


I knew that when I ran out of/needed something, I would need to go out and get it. What I didn’t know was how often. Good news: There’s a Dominick’s right down the street. Bad news: Most of the employees there now know me by name (and think I’m nuts). I’m not one for lists, which could have contributed to all of my visits.

If I was going to make this post have a “message,” it would be one of encouragement to all those downtrodden at-home cooks, who watch the chefs on TV and wonder why they can’t recreate it at home.