Stephanie Izard to preview new restaurant at Food & Wine Classic

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
At the Food & Wine Classic, Chef Stephanie Izard will preview dishes from Duck Duck Goat, a Chinese restaurant she is opening in Chicago this fall.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: ‘A Girl, 2 Ducks & a Goat Walk Into a Bar’ with Stephanie Izard

Where: Food & Wine Classic, St. Regis Courtyard

When: Friday, June 19, 10 a.m.

How does a Midwestern American chef develop the chops to open a new Chinese restaurant?

If you’re Stephanie Izard — the “Top Chef” season four champ, 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef and James Beard Award winner who opened Chicago’s acclaimed Girl and the Goat — you travel to China in search of flavors, sampling dumplings and learning to pull noodles.

Izard is opening Duck Duck Goat, a Chinese cuisine eatery, in Chicago this fall. She’ll preview its concept and offerings at a handful of events at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this weekend.

She had previously featured some Southeast Asian dishes at Girl and the Goat and the Little Goat Diner. Two years ago for a private dinner at Little Goat, she developed a Chinese menu. That evening, the new idea started to take hold for the nose-to-tail chef with a fondness for duck and goat dishes.

“It was nothing special — Americanized Chinese that you would get from a Chinese takeout restaurant,” she said. “I just had a lot of fun doing it, and I started thinking about how there aren’t that many Chinese restaurants — other than in Chinatown — in Chicago.”

Izard and her partners from Boka Restaurant Group, along with her husband and some friends, got on a plane and ate their way through Shanghai, Chengdu and Hangzhou to look for ideas.

“It’s a fun thing to have to do research and eat a lot of dumplings,” she said. “Pretty much you just eat dumplings for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is great. I’m like, ‘Why would I eat eggs for breakfast when we can have dumplings?’”

Sensitive to spice, she was nervous for her taste buds in the Sichuan Province.

“Sometimes, spicy food can be a little too intense for me, but that was my favorite food by far,” she said. “I just loved the Sichuan peppercorns and different chilies they used — there’s just tons of flavor.”

They also took a trip to Taiwan, as she plans to attach a Taiwanese street-food take-out window to the new restaurant.

While the Duck Duck Goat building and menu are both currently under construction, Izard is offering a glimpse of what’s to come at Food & Wine. The China-inspired dishes Izard is cooking this weekend include a grilled whole fish with chilies and a fava bean chili paste, silver needle noodles, Chinese spare ribs and her Duck Duck Goat fried rice recipe. Overall, she said, the restaurant’s menu is shaping up as a mix of new discoveries from her travels and American Chinese favorites such as crab Rangoon.

“We want to make sure we’re putting things on the menu that we’re confident in and that we’re representing Chinese cuisine in a way that would make them proud,” she said.

Izard, 36, has frequently been a featured chef at the Food & Wine Classic since her star turn on “Top Chef” in 2008. Years into her time as a celebrity chef, she said, she still gets a thrill from running into her heroes such as Jacques Pepin and Jose Andres while she’s here and seeing them ply their craft.

“It’s always fun to be in Aspen,” she said. “Just walking around — there are so many chefs I get excited about seeing in person.”