Chefs Mohr, Weiner to Open 'Homestead' Mid- July
Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner will open their fourth restaurant that will serve literal farm-to-table cuisine, Homestead, by mid-July.
Chef John Wayne Formica – an opening sous chef at Sunda under Rodelio Aglibot and an opening sous chef at C-House under Marcus Samuelsson – will helm the Homestead kitchen. Chef Formica will be serving literal farm-to-table shareable plates where ingredients from every single dish will come from Homestead’s 1,000-square foot organic rooftop farm. The artfully-plated rustic Midwestern fare is inspired by Chef Formica’s Chicago upbringing, his multi-ethnic background, and his extensive global travels.
“Chef John is a true talent who’s been operating under the radar,” Mohr said. “We’re excited to put him at the forefront of our truly unique space that is Homestead. We can’t wait for people experience his textured and flavorful food that’s sustainable yet approachable, familiar yet unique.”
Homestead patrons will enter the restaurant through Roots Handmade Pizza (1924 W Chicago Ave), and will be led upstairs to the unique dual space on the second floor.
The rooftop features 85 outdoor seats with full view of the L-shaped 1,000-square foot organic rooftop farm and two massive vertical hanging gardens.
The light-filled and airy interior space at Homestead will seat about 40 people at tables with an additional 10 seats at the bar. The interior is decked out with a live birch walls, a hanging plant wall, air plants, bespoke glass terrariums filled with living vegetation, and vintage sconces. The South side of Homestead’s interior features floor-to-ceiling windows that over look the rooftop farm.
The handcrafted tables at Homestead inside and outside are each one-of-a-kind made from reclaimed wood, tin ceiling pieces, farm house doors, and other reclaimed materials.
Homestead will be open 5pm to 2am Sunday through Friday and from 5pm to 3am on Saturday. The outside rooftop of Homestead will be open until midnight every night. Homestead will not accept reservations. Homestead is a seasonal restaurant that will stay open until around mid-October, and it will re-open in the spring of 2013.
Chef Formica’s opening Homestead menu will feature about 15 shareable savory plates and about three desserts – all of which will contain ingredients from the 1,000-square foot organic rooftop farm. The menu will change frequently due to the seasonality of the rooftop farm that has over 100 different vegetable, fruit, plant, and herb varietals.
A Homestead opening menu item will be “Two Way Potato” that is inspired by Chef Formica’s Italian background. Sliced potato will be crisped into a cylinder, stuffed with local goat cheese mashed potatoes, served atop of bed of lightly-dressed greens picked from the rooftop farm, and topped with shaved summer truffles.
Another dish will be a “Lamb Tartare” that pulls from Chef Formica’s Lebanese background that will feature finely chopped Illinois-raised lamb filets mixed with bulgar, mint, parsley, scallion, tomato, cucumber, and cinnamon. The tartare will be finished with an aioli and served with housemade chickpea chips.
“Textured Foie” will also be on Homestead’s opening menu that was inspired from Chef Formica’s global travels. Half-moon slices of housemade foie gras tourchon will go through a three-step breading process before being fried. They’ll be served with a sweet squash puree, greens picked from the rooftop farm, and crispy duck prosciutto.
Other savory Homestead shareable plates will feature sustainable pork, beef, seafood, and chicken. In addition to the “Two Way Potato”, Homestead will also have about four other vegetarian shareable plates on its opening menu as well. Homestead will also have daily chef food specials based on what’s best and fresh at local Chicago markets and incorporating the best of Homestead’s rooftop farm as well.
A Homestead opening scratch-made dessert item will be a strawberry granita – strawberry-infused ice with hint of rose topped with strawberry gelee, strawberry sorbet, and pickled strawberries.
The Homestead cocktail list will feature about eight specialty cocktails created by consultant Revae Schneider, owner of Femme du Coupe (http://femmeducoupe.com). Each of the specialty cocktails will incorporate elements of the rooftop farm, and each will be served in a unique vessel. A full liquor bar is also available.
Homestead will exclusively feature brews from the Midwest. Homestead’s beer program will focus around about 15 large format 22oz bottles (“bombers”) that are perfect for sharing and pair with the shareable food plates. There will also be six beers on tap and about 20 beers in 12oz bottles.
Homestead will feature about 50 esoteric wines by the bottle – with the majority being organic and biodynamic – that will mainly come from Washington, Oregon, California, and France. The wine list will change frequently to match the ever-evolving food menu. About 12 of the wines will be available by the glass as well.
Chef John Wayne Formica Bio
Chef John traces his love for cooking growing up in an Italian and Lebanese family, and several of his immediate family members owned and cooked at restaurants around the country.
John spent the last year and a half traveling and eating his way through the West Coast (where he staged at James Beard nominated restaurants) and Asia (Philippines, Vietnam, and Hong Kong). John also spent time as a culinary instructor and chef consultant at various places in the Philippines.
John spent two and a half years at Sunda (which garnered three stars from the Chicago Tribune) where he was an opening sous chef under Rodelio Aglibot, and was promoted to executive sous chef after Aglibot left Sunda.
Before Sunda, John spent nine months at C-House under Marcus Samuelsson as an opening sous chef. Prior to C-House, John was a chef de’ partie at L’Abbate (Sorrento, Italy) and a sous chef at Saffron Bistro (Loves Park, IL).
John is a graduate from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago. John is also a four-year United States Army veteran who served a tour in Iraq. John, nicknamed “The Duke”, and blogs regularly for his website http://travelingcowboychef.com and is also active on Twitter @Cowboy_Chef. John is also an avid motorcycle rider.
John spent his teenage years growing up in Chicago, and he graduaTed Steinmetz High School in Chicago.
More information on Homestead owners Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner
Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner first met when they started the same day in 2004 as managers at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab and quickly became best friends.
Mohr and Weiner co-own The Fifty/50 in Wicker Park that opened in March 2008, co-own Roots Handmade Pizza in West Town that opened in May 2011, and co-own Bleeding Heart Bakery & Café in West Town that opened in August 2011.
Greg Mohr bio
Greg Mohr was literally born into the restaurant and hospitality industry. Growing up in Rock Island, Illinois, Greg saw the success of the liquor store his great grandfather founded become the highest grossing liquor store in Illinois during the late ‘60s and ‘70s. The Mohr family expanded its liquor store concept under his grandfather that turned into three bars and a deli. At age 8, Greg began cleaning the liquor store and started working in the deli.
Greg continued to work in various restaurants throughout high school in the Quad Cities and in college while studying business administration at Illinois State University. Greg moved to Chicago after college while working as a server at Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House that is a part of the Gibsons Restaurant Group. Four months into his stint at Hugo’s, Greg was promoted to assistant general manager.
Eight months later, Greg was tapped by the Gibsons Restaurant Group to open and run Gibsons Steakhouse in Rosemont, Illinois, as a managing partner and new concept creator. After three years at the suburban Gibsons, Greg was then moved to the original and iconic Gibsons on Rush Street and worked directly with owners Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli for over a year.
Greg was then offered the assistant general manager at Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab with the behemoth Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group. Two years into his stint at Joe’s, Greg was elevated to the general manager position where he stayed for two additional years.
Greg left Joe’s early into 2008 to open his first restaurant, The Fifty/50, with another former Joe’s manager, Scott Weiner.
Scott Weiner bio
Scott Weiner – a Northbrook, Illinois, native – traces his love and passion for the restaurant business back his first job as a server at Johnny Rockets as a teenager.
Scott worked for four years in various capacities at multiple China Grill Management restaurant concepts in Las Vegas while he simultaneously he earned his bachelor’s degree in hospitality administration with a major in beverage management form UNLV.
While in college, Scott also earned his sommelier license through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and used his talents to develop the wine and spirits program at China Grill properties in Las Vegas.
Prior to opening The Fifty/50, Roots Handmade Pizza, and Bleeding Heart Bakery & Café with business partner Greg Mohr, Scott was the assistant general manager at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab where he focused on food purchasing and menu development.