Dining Chicago

Fresh Herbs Take the Stage at "Entertaining With De' Ann" Series

Regardless of how annoyingly fickle the weather is in April, rest assured that garden season is right around the corner, and when it strikes, you'll want to be ready. That's where De' Ann Wellwerts, executive chef of Markethouse Restaurant and Bar, enters the picture. This Midwest-centric farm-to-table restaurant hosts a monthly cooking demonstration series called "Entertaining With De' Ann," which sounds like a Food Network pitch, but it's actually much more legit. Each demonstration concentrates on a seasonal theme, and for Wellwerts next shindig on April 25, she's focusing on herb seedlings.

Nothing could be more apropos in late April than a lesson on herb seedlings. As Mother Nature settles her temper tantrum and greenery starts to bloom, it's time to concentrate on proper home gardening techniques, and since herbs are so dainty and petite, even apartment-dwellers can partake. Wellwerts is well equipped to teach guests about planting herbs, as she tends not only to the rooftop garden at Markethouse, but to the restaurant's new herb wall in the dining room. And these are not your standard pantry herbs either. The herb wall contains Cuban oregano, curry leaf, Vietnamese coriander, silver thyme, lemon balm, and lots more. There are also some quirky herb names, like the scholarly sounding Aristotle basil, creeping rosemary, which sounds like a stalker, and cotton candy mint, earning the award for cutest herb. Nothing says "farm-to-table decor" like a wall of fresh herbs, especially herbs that sound like cartoon characters.

(Markethouse herb wall)

The herb demonstration takes place from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Markethouse. Attendees will be treated to a demontration on planting herb seedlings and how to incorporate them into dishes at home. Guests will sample Wellwerts' fresh herb pasta primavera, and take home their own herb plant. Each monthly demonstration costs $10 per person and is limited to 20 guests. Following the demo, guests receive 20% off dinner in the restaurant, applicable the night of the event only. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 312-224-2200.

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