Top Seeds with Josh Zadikoff

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Josh Zadikoff, Brand Operations Manager for Cornerstone Restaurant Group, has crossed all spans of positions in the restaurant industry. “I started out baking cookies and bussing tables in high school. That was my first experience.” In college, Josh discovered his passion for management when he completed a management internship training program at Wildfire in Glenview.

Even though Cornerstone was owned and operated by his family, Josh’s passion for the industry led him to other corporations and opportunities. “When I graduated from college, I worked for Hyatt for four years. I wanted to see a different side of hospitality and really get a feel for more than just our group. Eventually, we decided to open Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse and I transitioned into the opening management team.”

Cornerstone continued to grow as they partnered with Bill Kim on Urbanbelly, Belly Shack and Belly Q. Since Josh’s feet were officially wet, he moved into the Brand Operations Manager position, which encompasses working with restaurant teams and the Cornerstone marketing department. “My job is to really oversee the ongoing success of our restaurants and to make sure that there is positive execution among each individual restaurant team.” Based on the success of their restaurants, it seems that Josh is achieving his goal.

Josh’s Top Seeds

The Perfect Ramen

It’s really all about the broth. The source of the stock doesn’t matter to me because I eat it all, but it has to be well balanced with a silkiness and a good slurp.

Date Night with the Wife

Being in the restaurant industry rarely affords us a date “night”, so we actually tend to do a brunch date. More times than not, we end up at Birchwood Kitchen in Wicker Park. Emily {my wife} loves the beet and goat cheese sandwich and I usually get something seasonal. We love their patio in the summer and they always have a stellar quality of ingredients.

When we do get a date night, it’s usually on a Monday, so we’ll go over to La Sardine for 50 percent off bottles of wine. It’s just a classic, killer French bistro.

Next Big Trend in Food

Ramen is obviously huge right now and I think that will continue to grow and evolve. When you think about it, there is really very little moderately priced Asian food in Chicago outside of chains and fast food. I think restaurant groups are going to start taking a healthier, more casual approach to that region, particularly with Vietnamese food.  Think bolder, more undiscovered flavors.

Speaking of trends, it seems there is a new barbecue chain on every corner. What is the best of the best?

The original Smoque will always be my favorite. I get the sliced brisket, St. Louis ribs and coleslaw. The Sorkins are great friends and they participated in Ramen Fest this year. They did a brisket ramen that was insane.

The Air and Water Show took over the city last weekend. Love it or hate it?

If you do it the right way, it can be great. You need to hop on a boat and just take it in from the water.


Top Seeds with Dan Raskin


Pastrami on rye. Chopped liver. Hot potato latkes. Jewish comfort food is serious, and if you want the best of the best in Chicago, you go to Manny’s, where the Raskin family recipes have been passed down for nearly 75 years. Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit Manny’s, knows that it is truly a living piece of Chicago history. Incepted just after World War II, the cafeteria style deli is located in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, and sits just steps away from the spot where The Great Chicago Fire originated.

Though 32 year-old Dan Raskin has only been working and running Manny’s since he was in high school, it has been in his life forever.  In fact, I think it is safe to say that he has matzo ball soup broth running through his veins. Now, with a huge restaurant renovation in the works, featuring take-out service and a bakery counter, Raskin has some big fish (likely smoked fish) to fry. The busy entrepreneur was kind enough to give us some insight on his favorite Chicago (and Italy) spots.

Dan’s Top Seeds

Go-To Order at Manny’s

My favorite sandwich is a combo corned beef and pastrami on rye with coleslaw. But, if I’m going hot entree, I’m going short ribs.

Under the Radar

I’m a big fan of Athenian Room in Lincoln Park. It’s been around forever, but people forget about it because it’s not in Greek Town.

You’re going to the chair. What are you eating?

I have been fortunate enough to travel a bit and my favorite meal ever was at La Giostra in Florence, Italy. The food is so fresh and by far the best Italian I have ever had.

Deep Dish

Hands down, Lou Malnati’s. The trick is to either eat at Lou’s or get them to deliver it in the pan. They’ll do it if you promise to return it the next day.

Dying to try

Momotaro and Prime and Provisions

Kid Friendly Chic

I love the brunch at Chicago Cut. They have a great menu and an amazing patio in the summer. My kids love watching the boats on the river. It’s an unexpected family friendly place.

Top Seeds with Elana Green

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Our first installment of Top Seeds comes from Elana Green, Director of Operations for Land and Sea Department, the umbrella for Parson’s Chicken and Fish, Longman and Eagle, Lost Lake and newbie, Cherry Circle Room in the Chicago Athletic Association hotel.

Elana and I sat down at the Land and Sea headquarters last week to chat about her journey with the restaurant group.

“I started out as a server at Longman and then became the second manager that they hired. I opened the  hotel with them-I was the innkeeper!  As the company grew, the need for a director of operations was more pressing, so I moved up to the position.”

On Cherry Circle:

“It really goes along with the classic 1950’s vibe of the Chicago Athletic Association. There’s an inspiration from secret societies. We have a table side martini cart and steaks on the menu, along with some cool custom symbols on the china and decor. A lot of people come in and immediately think, Oh! Mad Men! But that’s not really what we want it to be; it’s a cooler vibe, more welcoming and less stuffy.”

Partial to any particular restaurant in the group?

“They really are so vastly different that it’s hard to pick a favorite. They each have their own qualities that I love them for.”

Elana’s Top Seeds

Spot to Soak up Chicago Sun

I love having a picnic at Palmer Square. I bring a bottle of rose´ and some cheese. It’s a very relaxed, low pressure way to spend a day.

Pure Gluttony

Since opening the hotel, I have kind of become a regular at Shake Shack. My order is a chocolate shake, regular burger and cheese fries–you’ve gotta have cheese fries!

Go-To Libation

I have to go with Longman’s Old Fashioned. It’s classic!


Mariano’s kale shake is really fresh, and a good way to drink my dinner.

Lunch for under $20

In the office, we get burritos from Taco el Jalisciense. It’s a little taco stand that’s close, convenient and delicious.

Donut Debate

Enoch Simpson [Endgrain] used to make donuts at Nightwood. Those were the best!