When Stephanie Izard came out of from the sea of culinary powerhouses and won the first elimination challenge on Season 4 of Top Chef, you knew that you were watching something special in the making. Her twist on Duck a L’orange won over the taste buds of the judges, but it was her consistency and skill that pushed her forward, catapulting her to the final elimination challenge and allowing her to conquer it all. Her passion for food and her engaging personality made you feel like you were at home cheering on your best friend to victory. Week after week, millions of Top Chef Fans tuned it to watch this curly-haired food maven move from challenge to challenge with a warmth and honesty that fans could relate to. Although the competition was stiff, it really came as no surprise when Stephanie was awarded with the coveted title of Top Chef.
It is what Stephanie has accomplished since then is what makes her story truly remarkable, and reflects what we all believe is the American Dream – the sentiment that hard work, passion and dedication really do pay off. Since leaving the show in 2008, Stephanie has become a staple in the Chicago food scene. What began with one amazing concept, Girl & the Goat, has evolved into an amazing trio of restaurants that cater to a variety of appetites. The original restaurant features small plates, which are not only perfect for sharing, but also allow you to have a bit of everything.
As Stephanie explains, “We have a lot of different flavors in each dish. I just want to put out a small portion so you can taste it…without committing to a whole entrée”.
Across the street at The Little Goat Diner, you will find comfort food and “Cereal Killers” at their best and its next door neighbor, Little Goat Bread, is a perfect place to stop and have a fresh bagel and an amazing cup of coffee, or maybe a glass of chocolate goat milk (lactose intolerant chocolate lovers rejoice!)
A Girl and Her Goat
“We just like to go crazy with goat!”
To those that are familiar with zoology, it comes as no surprise that Stephanie found her calling with the goat. Her last name, Izard, is actually a type of goat that lives in the French Pyrenees. These days you can find goat weaved throughout the menus at both restaurants, from goat milk at the coffee bar and goat burgers for lunch to the temporary goat tattoos and t-shirts in the gift shop. You can even pre-order a goat leg directly from the restaurant for your next gathering. For those expecting dishes overloaded with strong spices and curries, you are in for quite a surprise. Their goats are locally sourced and the meat is tender and delicious – for a true taste of the quality of meat we suggest trying the goat loin seared medium rare (if you are lucky enough to catch it on the restaurant’s ever-changing menu).
“We get them (our goats) from a local farm where the goat meat itself is just fantastic.”
As anyone who has had the pleasure of dining at either restaurant will tell you, Stephanie is a hands-on restaurant owner. She can frequently be seen talking with her satisfied and eager diners any night of the week. As she spent time answering questions from excited patrons, she began to notice that she was frequently being asked how she made items like her vegetables, potatoes and house-made chips so delectable and perfectly seasoned. Being a smart and savvy businesswoman in addition to an amazing chef, she quickly realized that there was a demand for her amazing sauces and spices. Since then, she has launched her own line of sauces and spices for sale at her restaurants and online at www.stephanieizard.com.
Stephanie’s three spice blends come directly from the restaurant kitchens are inspired by some of Stephanie’s favorite international cuisines and her bottled sauces, such as Saute and The Chee, are flavorful and flexible and not designed for any specific purpose or recipe. They encourage you to be creative, but if you are feeling a little stumped, Stephanie and her crew are constantly adding recipes online to inspire the at-home chef to try something familiar in a new way! But, if you are more of a recipe traditionalist who likes the comfort and feel of a cookbook on the counter while you prepare your creations, you can also snag yourself a copy of Stephanie’s first cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen.
When Stephanie is not spending her time running back and forth from Girl & The Goat and Little Goat Diner, you can also find her participating in Chef’s demos at the Green City Market or sitting at home enjoy a fabulous Taco Bar with her husband. For more information on her Chef’s events, head on over to www.girlandthegoat.com.
A Common Thread
Stephanie also spends time volunteering at Common Threads, where she gets to spend time with children in underserved communities and teach them how to cook fresh wholesome and healthy foods. Started by Art Smith in 2003, it is a curriculum based after school program that teaches kids about different ingredients and cooking techniques to make healthy and affordable meals at home. To learn more about Common Threads and how you can help bring workshops to your community, check out their website at www.commonthreads.com.
Girl & the Goat
809 W. Randolph Street
Chicago IL, 60607