21 December 2009

Granola Interview with Goddess and Grocer

 As mentioned in a previous post I wanted to take the time to highlight some of my favorite local restaurants in Chicago that I think are great. They must meet certain criteria.

  • Must be a LOCAL non chain restaurant
  • Must have good food
  • Must have fed SLY at some point in her life (not for free. None of these places are paying me to highlight them. These are just places I like to frequent.)
  • Must practice some form of sustain behavior so that my "granola" highlight isn't in vain. :)
For my first restaurant highlight, I was able to interview the owner which turned out great. (insert happy dance here!)

Today we will hear from Debbie Sharp, the owner of The Goddess and Grocer and Feast.

SLY:  How long has The Goddess and Grocer been around? 

DS: 5 and a half years, I think. 

SLY: What’s the difference between The Goddess and Grocer and Feast?

DS: Feast is  a sit down restaurant with a more global approach to food and wine - a neighbor restaurant with a global beat - is how we like to brand it. The Goddess and Grocer covers a much wider range than a restaurant - we have sandwiches, prepared foods, salads, pastries and desserts, catering - all made from scratch as well as drinks, a fantastic wine selection, is for quick bites, easy take out and wonderful catering 

SLY: I read in another interview that you got your start working in the entertainment industry as a caterer to entertainers such as Princess Diana, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, and the likes. Was that an amazing experience or what? WOW! Any interesting quick stories you can tell?

DS: I actually started out as an accountant, went into journalism and back into accounting before I started working for Adam and The Ants, a punk band in England in the late 70s and early 80s. Then I went into catering. My most amazing experience was working with Linda McCartney, who was such a strong woman but also such a caring and loving person. She always amazed me the way she kept her family so close and was also so embracing of everybody on the road.

Fun times - shopping in a local supermarket in Germany, and I had loaded 15 supermarket carts and as I was loading them, somebody was putting them back on the shelves, thinking I was a crazy woman, but too polite to ask me. it was like a comedy.

On George Michael, in Verona,  Italy, he was about to go on stage but  it started sinking into the ground. They thought there were going to be riots when they cancelled the show and they hid us in these caves in the  back of the amphitheater and sort of forgot about us for a few hours. thought we were going to be buried there along with other Roman soldiers.

SLY: Are any of the ingredients that you cook with natural, organically and/or locally grown? 

DS: We try and use local products but they are very expensive considering they are locally grown.  I am very much a natural cook though and we don't use any additives or preservatives for anything. When I first came to the States, which was with the McCartney tour in 1989, I was shocked at all the added ingredients in food and wouldn't buy anything. It taught me a lot about using fresh products only. (SLY: And I must say, Debbie's food is FRESH and so TASTY!)

SLY:  Your menu seems to change based on the season…does this mean that you try to create menus based on what’s in season?

DS: We have some favorites that we need to keep on a regular basis for both stores, as customers would be upset without them and then we change seasonally. (SLY: This is a very important aspect of eco-conscious eating!)

SLY:  Do you practice any sustainable methods within your restaurant? (Whether that’s through recycling, using wheat flour, or using left over veggies to make soup?  

DS: I have always recycled, I was one of the first restaurants in Chicago to do so. I also hate waste so I try to make sure we use up as much as possible. When I was in Mosco with Bon Jovi, also in 1989, we were doing a huge concert with 10 bands and I had brought all the food by truck from London because Moscow would not have the amount of food we need to feed 800 people on a daily basis for 2 weeks. I used to see the old woman going through our trash everyday picking through it and also our Russian helpers, so everything that was left over, we would box up and leave it out for them to take home.

SLY: What are some of your signature vegetarian and vegan dishes? 

DS: Goddess does a great bbq tofu sandwich and the garden goddess wrap is my favorite of alll the sandwiches. For Feast we do some really great Indian and Thai curries but do them as complete meals with four or five different things on the plates - maybe samosas,  vegetable curry, basmati rice, pappadum, mango chutney, raita (SLY: I have tried the BBQ tofu sandwich and it is AMAZING. Even some of my meat eater friends love that sandwich.)

SLY: Why should someone come to Goddess and Grocer versus Potbelly's?

DS: We always say maybe twice the price but we are three times the sandwich! We also use much better quality bread, meats and cheese and our fillings literally are three times as much. But I do think Potbelly's does a good job. I like a couple of their salads a lot. (SLY: Such a classy lady. Giving Potbelly's props!)

SLY: Anything else you'd like to share?

DS: I think the economy is picking up because we are really busy and thrilled about it!

One of my favorite things about Goddess and Grocer is their RED VELVET CUPCAKES. I have eaten a LOT of red velvet cupcakes, including my own. But the BEST ones I've ever tried are from Goddess and Grocer.

You can find out more about Debbie or her wonderful restaurants below......


1646 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60647
p: 773.342.3200


25 East Delaware Place
Chicago, Illinois 60611
p: 312.896.2600


2200 N Elston Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60614
p: 773.292.7100 

1616 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago. IL 60647
Ph: 773.772.7100

25 E. Delaware Place
Chicago. IL 60611
Ph: 312.337.4001
Twitter: Goddess and Grocer 


Jantira said...

Cool interview! I remember going to feast a few times while in Chicago and really liked the food. I like how they are creative in their menu choices. So nice to hear the brains behind the food!

Lynn said...

The food photos look absolutely delicious. I'm a sucker for a great photo. I just wish I lived in Chicago though. I have only eaten in your big ol airport on a layover and had the best burrito of my life - in your food court no less! So on my next trip I know we will be swinging into this spot too.

My best, Lynn

SLY said...

@Lynn, you should definitely try Goddess and Grocer.

@JantiraK..next time we are both in Chicago, lets go there!