Duck Duck Goat, Stephanie Izard’s third highly anticipated restaurant, is expected to open in March, before Izard gives birth to her first baby in May. Izard is the talented chef at the helm of West Loop hot spots Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner. You may also remember her as the delightful “Top Chef” season 4 winner, graced with a friendly smile and a halo of brunette curls.
Duck Duck Goat will be a Chinese American restaurant with a takeout window, located at 857 W. Fulton Market. Izard promises to provide tasty food and great service in a fun, casual environment — which we don’t doubt, given her impressive track record. Make It Better had the opportunity to talk with her about the new restaurant and its drool-worthy menu, being a celebrated female chef and motherhood.
Make It Better: What was the inspiration behind Duck Duck Goat?
Stephanie Izard: We host Sunday Suppers at Little Goat. A couple years ago, we had a Chinese one that was very popular.
You traveled to China to research the cuisine, didn’t you?
We visited various regions in China and Taiwan, but also Chinatown in Chicago. This restaurant is about how Chinese food came to the United States. It’s a hodgepodge of different parts that I really like.
You’ve also been developing your own variation of dishes, such as a “slap noodle.”
Yes, we are making all our own noodles — seven different kinds. We roll the dough, let it relax, plop it down and pull it into long, chewy noodles.
Sounds great, but time-consuming.
Yes, making all the noodles and dumplings by hand takes a lot of time. Most people would probably just buy wonton skins and call it a day. But I taught myself and now I’m training my sous chefs how to do it. Every dumpling has its own kind of dough.
Can’t wait to try them! Can you tell us about the interior design of Duck Duck Goat?
We have a new design firm, AvroKO, and it’s amazing — not what you would expect of a Chinese interior. It doesn’t have the obvious things, like the Great Wall of China. It celebrates Chinese culture in America. The whole kitchen is open, like street food vendors. What are some of your favorite dishes? There’s Cheung Fun, rice noodles rolled up and served with sausage, grilled cuttlefish and XO broth, and Crispy Frog Legs & Potato in oyster sauce. I’m a huge fan of fried rice. We’ll have five different kinds. Forbidden Dirty Goat has forbidden black rice with goat liver, goat bacon and pickled quail eggs. There’s also Duck, with a soy-poached duck egg over Jasmine rice.
What kind of desserts will be on the menu?
We have a new pastry director, Nate Meads, for all three restaurants. In China there are a lot of baked goods. We’re turning casual street fare into plated desserts, like a Taiwanese pineapple cake.Yum. How about the cocktails? There will be some really fun ones. The Shao Shsing Redemption, with savory Agrocybe mushroom-infused syrup and Shao Shsing rice wine, is an awesome, masculine drink. There are also a couple of lighter ones, with beet-apple shrub and carrot/ginger/turmeric syrup. The pick-up window is a great idea. What will you serve there? It will be a completely separate menu celebrating street food. You can walk up and order breakfast, lunch, dinner or even late-night. There will be a sandwich called Rou Jia Mo, which is a bun filled with the Pig Face that we serve at Girl & the Goat and topped with hoisin and pickled cucumber. We’ll also serve a Jianbing breakfast crepe, with egg and sausage, and Chinese donuts.
Duck Duck Goat is one of the most highly anticipated openings of 2016. How does that make you feel?
Of course I’m a little nervous, and these things take time, but I try not to compare myself to anyone. I do the best I can do.
What is it like being a female in a world of mostly male celebrity chefs?
Well, I’m having a baby in a few months. I’m showing now, so that’s a bit different.
Congratulations! Can you share any baby news?
It’s a boy, due in May. The hardest part is just waiting to meet him.
You and your husband [Gary Valentine, married three years] must be so excited. You work together, don’t you?
Yes, he is the beer director for all three Goat restaurants. He’s been a huge help, with the beer and other parts of opening. We’re not side-by-side, but we see each other throughout the day.
What are your plans for after the baby arrives?
I’ll have to take a couple weeks off, but I’m not one for sitting around. I plan to bring the baby to work.
Best of luck with your baby boy and the newest Goat. We can’t wait to see them both!
Thank you. Please keep an eye on social media for the official opening. The takeout window should open a few days before the restaurant.
We’ll be there, ready to try some delicious new Chinese dishes!
Duck Duck Goat
857 W. Fulton Market
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