The Fall (and Rise) of the Roman Dinner, and Baltzley in Details

The new date is November VII.
The new date is November VII. Photo: courtesy Crux Collective

All roads may lead to Rome, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t stumbling blocks on the way. Monday night’s ambitiously historical Apicius dinner, planned by Brandon Baltzley and his Crux Collective with Jared Wentworth of Longman & Eagle at Pensiero in Evanston, fell apart over its very ambition. The dinner was meant to include unusual things eaten at orgiastic Roman feasts as featured in Apicius, a 5th century AD (or thereabouts) collection of recipes. But miscommunication between chef and the vendor of the exotica left the vendor assuming that the delivery was for Tuesday, not Monday (when they, and of course many restaurants, are normally closed). By the time the mistake was discovered it was too late to find an alternative, and the dinner had to be called off. It has now been rescheduled for Monday, November 7, and in a smart make-up move, Baltzley has dropped the price from $140 to $100.

Unfortunately, Jared Wentworth is unable to be part of the dinner on that day, but Baltzley is determined to see it through, admitting that pre-rehab, this setback would have sent him out the door. Reservations are accepted only by phone at Pensiero’s number, (847) 475-7779. We look forward to this event finally happening and, moreso, to Baltzley’s day-to-day work at the helm of Pensiero fulfilling his promise.

That promise— and the dramatic story of a talented young chef’s artistry and ambition slamming into the wall of addiction— reportedly gets a workout again in the upcoming issue of Details, which should be on newsstands as early as this weekend. Writer Ivan Solotaroff hung out with Baltzley and his cooks as they experimented with and conceptualized dishes for the Crux collective dinners (including the Apicius one). Whether the latest portrait of this rock and roll drummer turned rock and roll chef proves to be enlightening or just romanticized, remains to be seen.

The Fall (and Rise) of the Roman Dinner, and Baltzley in Details