There’s been an earthshaking development in the current schedule for Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop up series.
Barbecue Life Coach Gary Wiviott has canceled his November 22 stand at the Kedzie Inn in order to, as they say, “spend more time with family.” Something like that.
We’ll have him back next year for MNF’s Season Two, so that’s not the momentous part. The really thrilling consequence of this development is that Banana Phone Treats stepped up and will take over the kitchen on week 12 this Monday with a short but astonishing menu of Korean and American street food hybrids.
Banana Phone, like many of our MNF alumni, began as a pandemic pivot by restaurant industry vets Michelle Back, who was working at the late, great Café Marie-Jeanne, and Dylan Heath, who pre-pandemic opened Palita Sriratana’s Fulton Galley iteration of Pink Salt—which, by the way, killed it last Monday. More on that in a bit.
Back and Heath mostly sell their signature sweet banana milk and gooey stuffed pancakes, hotteok, along with wild spins on other uncommon Korean snacks and sweets out the window at Superkhana International where Heath works, and where they’ve occasionally offered larger blowout dinners like braised pork trotter jokbal ssam, or the cooling summer buckwheat noodle dish mul naengmyeon. They’ve also engaged in some border-bending collaborations like the Korean-Salvadoran mashup they did with Pupusa Time (another potential Season Two guest).
On Monday they’ll be debuting a cheesesteak-stuffed hotteok, inspired by Back’s Philly upbringing, along with a Korean-style corndog with kimchi-spiked batter rolled in chicken ramen seasoning, and drenched in mornay sauce. The duo just returned from Barcelona, where the ubiquitous thick-cut potato chips they encountered inspired a soy and rice syrup glazed version. You’ll need a cold bottle of banana milk to wash them down, along with a crisp Korean lager chaser from Jon Pokorny at the bar. They’re taking preorders now, but walk-ins are welcome when it all goes down at 5 PM at the Kedzie Inn, 4100 N. Kedzie in Irving Park. Ten percent of the proceeds will benefit Brave Space Alliance.
Heath, incidentally, was on the line the other night at the Kedzie, dropping lemongrass fried chicken and building bowls of khao soi along with Sriratana—just like he did in August, when he pitched in for Kedai-Tapao’s MNF pop-up. This will be his third run at the Kedzie, which makes him some kind of MNF MVP. He’s certainly in the running for our future Hall of Fame.
One—maybe two—more Foodballs to go this season. We’ll be back in February. Meantime, I’m dreaming of . . .
12/6 Cross your fingers. We’re working on a very special surprise guest for this, TBA.
12/13 Jennifer Kim (Alteconomy) and Nariba Shepherd (Trini Zaddy). Kim, who was also in the house on Monday, told me that there are surprising affinities between Korean and Trinidadian food, so this season’s going out on a special note.