SOUL PICNIC

For the next few months, Chicagoans with a yen for soul food need only travel to Harvest on Huron in the River North neighborhood. On April 30, the restaurant, headed by chef Allen Sternweiler, began a series of dinners focusing on the different varieties of soul food.
The April 30 dinner featured Lowcountry cooking, which is found in the Carolinas. Guests, who paid $60 each, feasted on she-crab soup; black-eyed pea salad; pork loin stuffed with pulled pork and a side of collard greens, and custard tartlet with pecans.
Gullah cuisine, found on the Carolina sea islands, was the feature on May 21. Cajun food will be served on Father’s Day, June 25, and barbecue is slated for July 23. Creole, antebellum, Caribbean and slave cooking are also on tap, but as yet unscheduled.
Each dinner will feature guest chefs and speakers. The first dinner, for instance, featured Wilbert Jones, author of “The New Soul Food Cookbook” and “The Healthy Soul Food Cookbook.” Using an audiovisual presentation, Jones discussed the region’s history, geography, foods and cooking methods.
Sternweiler and guest chef Cliff Rome, whose regular gig is at the Chicago restaurant DeJoie’s, talked about interpreting soul food. And Harvest on Huron partner and wine expert Tom Powers talked about matching beverages to each course, as he will at subsequent dinners.
The dinners fit well into Harvest on Huron’s hearty American cuisine theme, Sternweiler says. “Soul food means comfort food,” he says. “People can enjoy it and feel satisfied.” Harvest on Huron is located at 217 West Huron Street; 312-587-9600.