After making much of the most entertaining restaurant news in 2010, Graham Elliot has been strangely quiet through most of 2011, at least on the local food scene— though of course he’s been playing in a bigger pond as a judge on Fox’s Masterchef. Also strangely absent from the news was his Grahamburger concept, as high-end burgers popped up all over the city— and now we know why. Elliot has ditched the burger idea and decided to open a bistro— for now, at least, called GEB (for Graham Elliot Bistro)— in a large space along Randolph street that has become available (but is otherwise unidentified— maybe that Arabian Nights fantasy middle eastern place?) The plan is to offer a more modest-priced menu (which was the original intention with Graham Elliot as well) while being part of the louder, livelier, somewhat more affordable scene along Randolph.
That’s at least what we learn from Mark Caro in the Tribune, who also has a longer piece that sheds light on the newer, mellower Elliot, who as “ambassador of the brand” created by his television appearances has given up calling out critics and bloggers in favor of posing for pictures with tourists and giving words of encouragement to culinary students, while Graham Elliot runs under Chef de Cuisine Brian Runge. “I kind of have this role of helping create the ideas and get it going and things like that, but mostly it’s like taking pictures with people at the restaurant now and talking to people at the door as they come and go,” he tells Caro.