Chicago Catering

4xForth: Jen Mayer of Honey Butter Fried Chicken + Kitemath by Clare Johnson

4xForth-Jen-Mayer-Chicago Happy Friday, Forth community! It's time for our weekly 4xForth blog and today we're featuring Jen Mayer of Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Just typing that name makes me want to drop everything and get some delicious chicken with mac n'cheese. Who's with me?

We first met Jen at our Fall Salon hosted at Workshop Chicago and within minutes, connections were made amongst the group. "You're a partner for Honey Butter Fried Chicken? I love that place!" In 2013, Honey Butter Fried Chicken was created due of the overwhelming popularity of the fried chicken dinner option offered by The Sunday Dinner Club. Sunday Dinner Club is an intimate, referral-only, dinner club hosted 5-10 times per month with a delectable three to five plated course meal, which Jen is also involved with. We absolutely love Honey Butter's mission to support local farmers and countrymen with their midwest-based vendor community. We also really love their food!

Today, Jen is sharing some of her fun favorites --  her go-to Chicago bites, cookbook recommendations, places she likes to visit and what she's looking forward to this winter and holiday season.

Favorite places to visit outside the city/day trips from Chicago:

  1. The Kohler Waters Spa at The American Club (Kohler, Wisconsin)
  2. The Hamilton Wood Type Museum (Two Rivers, Wisconsin)
  3. New Glarus, Wisconsin
  4. Ann Arbor, Michigan – Zingerman’s!
Best Bites in Chicago:
  1. Honey Butter Fried Chicken: Shameless self promotion!
  2. Fat Rice: I love everything I eat there, but my favorite is the Portuguese Chicken and they have an especially great wine list, too.
  3. Big Star: I love sitting in the glass atrium on a snowy winter night, while drinking a decidedly summery Big Star margarita.
  4. Tiny Lounge: Specifically, the cheese curds.
4 things you're looking forward to this fall/winter:
  1. Reading in front of the fireplace.
  2. Visiting the Holiday Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute.
  3. Eating duck dinner at Sun Wah on Christmas Eve.
  4. Celebrating my husband’s 40th Birthday on New Years Eve.
4 cookbooks I’m digging right now:
  1. Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell
  2. The Little Book of Lunch by Caroline Craig
  3. Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
  4. Thug Kitchen by Anonymous

Thanks for sharing, Jen! I'm always on the hunt for fun, new cookbooks and your excellent recommendations will definitely be on my Amazon holiday wish-list. For anyone who hasn't visited Honey Butter, you should go. Soon! I highly recommend the 'La Louisianne' sandwich, roasted garlic grits, and the mac n' cheese. Mmmm, mac n' cheese.

Cheers to your holiday season, Jen, full of fireplace dwelling, delicious food and family celebrations. It sounds like it's going to be a great one!

Follow Jen on the Sunday Dinner Clubs FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and on Honey Butter Fried Chickens Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Summer Salon Spotlight: Molly Schemper of FIG Catering by Natalie Pavela

Yesterday we shared our amazing summer salon menu; today we're bringing you an interview with the wonderful Molly Schemper of FIG Catering. Get to know the woman behind this husband & wife run business and see why FIG Catering has us calling out for seconds (and thirds!). Forth-Summer-Salon-FIG-Catering-Food


You and your (now) husband launched FIG 9 years ago. What has surprised you most about owning your own company? About the catering world? About working with your partner?

I knew it would be hard work and long hours. I didn't really think about the long-term as far as having employees and being more of a manager than in the kitchen and at every event. When we first started Justin and I always worked side-by-side (in the kitchen, at events); now we are more often in different areas so it's actually a bit more normal (we don't see each other 24/7).

I'm continually surprised by our hourly employees (wait staff and bartenders) – that they care so much and take so much pride in their work. I'm surprised by other caterers' approaches to the same problems and how we deal with everything a bit differently.


FIG has a strong commitment to local farmers, green practices and partnering with other vendors that share an interest in sustainability. Have you found Chicago to be a good market for partnering with like-minded farmers and businesses? Is this something that serves as a major point of differentiation vs. other catering companies for clients? Since we started FIG we have grown with the local food economy. When we first started we had time to go to farmer's markets to buy ingredients, but now farmers deliver directly to us. Also there are more distributors sourcing from local farms so being able to buy things in bundles is becoming easier. We hooked up with many like-minded people when we first started and were original members of the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition (new Co-op) and the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance, so we've developed those relationships and learned from our peers. Some clients are really in to the fact that we're "green" and practice these things and others just like us because of our great food and service. Regardless, they're all eating the same locally grown food so we're happy!


FIG caters for special events up to 150. How does limiting the guest size impact the food/complexity of offerings you're able to provide each event's guests?


It means we're able to produce the food fresh rather than having a lot of items prepared and just heating them up. Because most of the spaces we work in do not have commercial kitchens our capacity is limited so by limiting the guest count we give the clients fresher, better food. We are also able to order from smaller farms that may not have the capacity to provide beef for 1000 guests per week but are able to serve our needs.

Firehouse Chicago

You served a custom cocktail at our summer salon - The Front Porch, featuring spiced New Orleans rum, chamomile sweet tea & homemade bitters. This is part of a soon-to-launch extension of your business - FIG Drinks. Tell us a bit about how Fig Drinks came to be and what you envision for the future of this business.

We hope to officially launch FIG Drinks soon. Basically, we think of it as a bar catering service. We noticed that most catered events had very boring beer, wine, and liquor selections (even though bars and restaurants in Chicago are far ahead of the game, it is like catering is stuck in the 90s). We wanted to create a catering bar service that offered the kind of things we would want to drink while making it very simple for the client (not a huge warehouse of inventory, licensed and trained bartenders, a one-stop shop). Our selection would range from locally brewed beer, environmentally friendly wines, small batch spirits and seasonal hand-crafted cocktails. The goal is to have your event feel more like hanging at your favorite bar than the hotel lobby.

This sounds fantastic! We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for the official launch of FIG Drinks!


Do friends ever hesitate to cook for you because of your awesome skills?

Our friends are often intimidated to cook for us, but we'll be the first to admit that if anyone cooks for us it's automatically going to taste good because someone else cooked it! We're really not very judgmental – we love good food, but prefer simple stuff. So, I guess what I'm saying is – we're available on Monday evenings to be party guests.


Do you like to cook for small intimate gatherings you host for friends and family outside of FIG, or are you tuckered out from doing it all day?

I like to, but rarely have time or energy anymore. Maybe once I retire.



What do you love most about your job?

Seeing the event come to fruition and the smiles on the guests (and clients) faces.


Describe your perfect meal.

That is so tough. For me, location plays a huge role - I don't think I'd like anything more than eating it on a beach somewhere or on a crowded city sidewalk café/patio. Freshly shucked oysters, cheese and bread, perfect nectarines, BLT sandwiches, and ice cream.



Thanks for sharing Molly! Friends, be sure to follow along with Molly on twitter and instagram.