The food world is divided into two types: those who are excited that Ian Schrager and Jean-Georges Vongerichten revived the Pump Room, and those who think that’s exactly what tourists deserve in Chicago— a Chicago icon turned into a knockoff of an existing New York restaurant (ABC Kitchen). This New Yorkization of a Chicago legend only got more pronounced, albeit humorously, when the place turned into Studio 54 for its one year anniversary party (apparently just being the Pump Room wasn’t enough). The food media world is also apparently also divided into two types, media outlets who just did an interview with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and those who didn’t.
Both Eater and Steve Dolinsky have interviews with Vongerichten, with maybe more to come. And frankly, none of it so far convinces you that the Pump Room is ever going to be a culinary, as opposed to a social see-and-be-seen, force in Chicago; Vongerichten admits that the menu’s approach is to offer something for everyone (in other words, lacks focus and tries to pander just like New York imports always seem to do here— see also BLT); he says the ideas for the kitchen mostly come from his New York spots and never mentions the Pump Room’s chef’s name in either video that we heard (we only know it’s still Moosah Reaume because you can see him in Eater’s video); he says they’re buying vegetables at farmer’s markets, which is apparently a new thing; and he tells Dolinsky that he drops by Chicago about once every three months to see how it’s going.
At the end with Dolinsky, he suddenly launches into talking about Alinea’s gig at Eleven Madison Park, and he lights up in a way talking about Grant Achatz’s food in a way that he never did talking about what he’s serving Chicagoans. Maybe there’s a lesson there?