Last night I went to an exclusive private open house at the new shop/bakery/restaurant for The Chef & The Baker. Oh, you didn’t get invited? No problem, you can come with me! Let’s hit the road!
Before we go to the party, I thought we’d stop at Relics and get them a little gift for the new shop. What is it? Well, just keep on scrolling and you’ll find out. Quit being so impatient...sheesh!
Here we are at the new home of The Chef & The Baker. It’s right off from the corner of Knoxville and McClure. If you’re heading towards downtown on Knoxville, you just take a left at the intersection and it’s right there, next to The American Legion outpost on McClure. Let’s go in and take a look, I’m dying to see this place!
Wow, it’s about three times the space of their old place and there's a bar and a full dining area! Nice to see them growing like this! I met some nice people up at the bar right off the bat and they are, clockwise from the bottom left: Jennifer, J.J., Jared and Jessa. Check out the Layla tattoo on Jessa’s arm, very cool, I’ve never seen a Layla tattoo and that’s great work! And it turns out we’ve met Jennifer before, she was bartending at Schooner’s on November 4th, 2013 when we went there for our ninth week of our twenty week tenderloin tour! So great to see her again!
The front bar here is loaded with fun pictures of The Chef & The Baker A.K.A. Ian and Karen and their son, Gabriel.
Speaking of Karen and Ian, I think I spy them behind the bar...yep, it's a always a pleasure to see them and here they are with our Grand Opening present. They’re going to to open it at the end of this post, so just keep on scrolling! Wonderful to see both of them and they’re excited about the new shop and the Grand Opening, which happens next Tuesday, May 31st at 10:30AM! You should stop by to check out the festivities on that day, I know I am!
One drawback the old Chef & Baker shop had was that there wasn’t much room to eat inside and it always felt like a take-out only place, not so at all with this new location! Check out the spacious dining room up in front here! Ian built the wooden booths that line the walls and he also made the tables in front of the booths. The first one is all Leinenkugel beer caps, the next one looks like it’s a black and white checker board design, but if you look closely, it’s made up of The Chef & The Baker business cards! The last table follows the beer cap table-top style and this one has many different types of caps making a colorful top for this table!
The painting on the back dining room wall is a work in progress by local artist, Devin McGlone. I love it, it’s got bakery goods, some well known Peoria buildings and the Bat-signal styled Chef & Baker skylight beaming in the sky! As you can see the far right corner still needs to be filled in and this is a good excuse to come back and check out the progress! And maybe get a cupcake or three in the process!
Here’s the artwork Devon did for the original shop and they’ve transported it to the new location and it’s hanging behind the front counter where it should be and all is well!
This is the Police table where lots of Police officer friends of The Chef & The Baker have signed and left badges and police memorabilia. There’s Mike Scally’s autograph, I went to high school with him! And check out the handcuffs, I know it’s Friday, but those are a real TBT memory of mine from about 14 months ago! (Inside joke alert!)
The kitchen area in the back is massive! Beans, who’s been working here since the old shop first opened said he’d give us a tour and off we go! The first stop is the dishwashing area where all the post, pans and plates are made scrub-a-dub clean and then he showed us this refrigerated cooler that he and Ian built. How...uh...cool, is that? Sorry about that, it couldn’t be helped, let’s keep moving along!
In addition to the space we’ve been looking at, there’s another room next door that they have and Beans said that right now they’re using it for storage, the hope is to knock down the wall here and expand the entire bake shop! Meanwhile back in the kitchen area there’s a state of the art stove and a smoker that’s filled with...
Chickens that have been smoked lIke they’re the special guest stars in a Cheech and Chong movie! These birds are going to be used for sandwiches and wraps on the Grand Opening Day next Tuesday and they look and smell so delicious! I’m definitely going to stop by to see what kind of lunch goodies these birds get turned into!
People are starting to gather in the kitchen area and there’s another familiar face in the second photo, that’s Nick who we met at Aurelio’s back on our pizza tour. Nick’s working as a cook here now and it’s great to see him again! They had a great spread of food for the guests this evening including fresh, smoked pulled pork and I made a sandwich of that and topped it with house-made BBQ sauces and purple cabbage and it was delicious!
And for dessert I sampled not one, not two, but three mini-cupcakes which are a specialty here and they are out-of-this world tasty! They’re small, but they pack a sweet and borderline sinfully decadent flavor!
Check out the double portal type window that looks out on the front dining area, let’s go out and see who’s out there now. The first person I found was Ian and Karen’s son, Gabriel who was just finishing up his dinner and next to him are his friends, Layla and Mia. Next Gabriel poses with James and then with Kelsey. Next I ran into Kelsey, who I met last January at No Wake Zone and in the bottom photo is Nancy with Kelli and her daughter, Ella. Kelli looked familiar and it turns out we met back on May 21, 2014 when I went to the old building where Hunt’s used to be and it was a hair salon called, Self Centered Hair, check out the link here. Kelli’s now doing hair at Blush Studio and she also has her own page on facecrack. Great to see her again and I have to say that her baby, Ella is really a magnificent baby! Usually I shy away from babies because...well...I don’t like babies very much—they’re always drooling and shitting all over themselves and basically acting like a retarded mess, but Ella was all smiles and she’s so friendly, she’s the perfect baby! I love her!
All hail baby, Ella, the Queen of all infants!
And here they are, The Baker and The Chef! I got them a dish towel that says, “Shit Show” on it along with a bakery scoop and a frosting spreader. I can almost guarantee that the Grand Opening Day next Tuesday, May 31st will be anything but a shit show though! You should definitely stop by and support this innovative and growing local business that has wonderful food and bakery goods! I hope to see you there next Tuesday! Thanks to Karen and Ian for inviting me to this open house, it was a lot of fun and great to see old acquaintances and make new ones! We’ll see you all tomorrow!