A Loaf Worth Loving

When you're a culinary instructor at a school like Le Cordon Bleu, you spend a lot of time talking to your students about the fine dining restaurants at which you think they should try to work in order to gain some valuable kitchen experience. Here, in Chicago, we have an amazing array of high-end dining options for our culinary school graduates to choose from, and I try to help them understand how lucky they are to be looking for work in a city as densely packed with great restaurants as ours is.

While it's certainly true that fine dining and meticulously prepared food is an important part of the equation, it's also very true that seriously food-minded people like myself enjoy taking an occasional break from such high minded edible works of art, to focus instead on simple, comforting, and sometimes greasy goodness.

A good case in point is the massive, fryer basket-shaped loaf of onion "rings" my family and I feasted on last night at a Chicagoland institution of a restaurant called Hackney's. Simple? Yes. Comforting? Definitely. Greasy? Deliciously so. In addition to being infamous for their onion rings, Hackney's is also well known for their "Hackneyburger", best eaten on dark rye bread with plenty of ketchup. My parents took my sister and I there throughout our childhood to dine and socialize with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and now my wife and I plan on continuing the tradition with our own kids.

While the Hackney's onion rings may be as simple as food gets, they are also extraordinary in their unique construction. As far as I know, there aren't any other restaurants preparing onions in this particular way. After being thinly sliced, sweet yellow onions get a good dredging in seasoned flower, and are then forcefully crammed into a fryer basket before being submerged in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. When they arrive at the table, it is in the form of a tall, rectangular loaf, majestically riding high on a white porcelain platter, needing a fork and knife to liberate portions onto each diner's plate. Crispy and brown on the outside, soft, sweet, and meltingly tender within, they are an occasional greasy treat that is good enough to be worth incorporating into the realm of family tradition.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
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            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
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            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
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            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.

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            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
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            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
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            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
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            L'Ecole Culinaire , Saint Louis
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