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The Purple Pig

The Purple Pig

Heritage - Sn 1/Ep 7Heritage - Sn 1/Ep 7

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In this season's final episode of HERITAGE, we meet Chef Jimmy Bannos Jr., two time nominee for the James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef, and fourth generation restaurateur. His concept, The Purple Pig, is fueled by timeless flavors that reflect his Greek and Italian roots, paired with personal touches inspired by his family, and his childhood.

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Transcript

- I have a lot of anxiety. That nervousness every single day we walk in that place. It's me against me, I'm my own worst enemy. It's a great motivator. I have to do more, it has to be perfect. We have to keep evolving. That chase, to keep growing. It's my passion, my drive, my pain. This is what I was meant to do. This is what I was born to do. It's kind of like your fate. - I started bringing Jimmy to work probably at three years old. He would be the first one up in the morning. Come on Dad, gotta go to work, gotta work. He was hanging out with his dad, you know, it was fantastic. In my mind I didn't think like oh god, this is gonna be the best restaurant tour in the world or whatever, this is just, it's what we do. - We're gonna study the fundamentals of Mediterranean technique as much as we can. You're gonna taste Greece. So here we have my version of what a fish stick would be. You're gonna taste Italian. This is our daily crudo. - Jimmy's menu is definitely a piece of him and a piece of his history. From my mother's Greek roots, from his mother's Italian roots. - Neckbone gravy that my grandma used to make when we were kids, and I like obsessed with it. The smell of it, just like thinking about my grandmother making it as a kid, I have to have this. You gotta be passionate about everything that you touch. This is all of our meats that come off the plancha and we want to really make sure that they're brined perfectly. My family, like my wife and my mom and my mother-in-law would be like Jimmy, you never eat. I said, I eat all the time. I get the most excitement developing new techniques and dishes. These are my crispy beef tendon chips. We toss it with malt vinegar powder and salt so it tastes like exactly like a perfect salt and vinegar potato chip. Take something you know as simple as a Chicago hot dog and make it something special. There's eight people here. I'll still never forget when we were building the kitchen and breaking ground in here, standing right over here. How the heck am I gonna do this, you know? There is no I can't in the vocabulary of The Purple Pig. The only way that we're going to be successful was to be extra creative and unique. - I thought a dish, it was finished. No, I need to rework the scent. The next day he goes come on, try it. We try it, it's like unbelievable, it's 20 times better than what it was. So that's a gift. - We started The Purple Pig, you know, there was some doubters and people that weren't really you know, thinking that I could do it but then I'm like, I'm gonna prove you wrong. Please, I love it, I love when you tell me I can't do it. That really excites me. That negativity, I channel it and put it in a positive flow. - [Voiceover] I think he doesn't want to disappoint his family, and I think it's just that drive. - The restaurant opened and it was kind of like that lightning in a bottle effect, like poof. It just was busy. Pollos all day! Fire on! - [Cooks] On! - Fire borata. - [Cooks] Borata! - [Voiceover] Come on quick, quick, quick, quick. - We started getting accolades, that fire just got bigger and bigger and bigger. - Throw 'em Jimmy, throw 'em Jimmy. - We wanted to be the best that we could possibly be. The mental toughness you have to have to go through those training sessions that we do, it's hard. It's a total, like out of body experience. It's the best. - The training in that helps him energize him for the work that he does. - Your energy, like you can't be feeling down. If I didn't do this, I wouldn't be as good as I am at my job. - All right, let's pick it up. Double it up a little bit. - My friends who got 'em the jobs, they didn't give him the silver spoon and you know, he's gonna be that chef, no way. They were harder on him. For him, the adversity makes him stronger. He loves that. - I always give 'em forks references from the kitchen there all the time. You're not a team player, you're definitely, you won't even make it here a month as a line cook. If you wouldn't serve that to your mother, your grandmother, you don't love it. You lose. - Right hand! Good. That's all, folks. - My family's restaurant story goes back four generations. Our family was just like that's it, that's what we were meant to do. Here we are at Heaven on Seven, Greeks from Chicago. New Orleans style food. I started coming in here when I was three years old. I really got to be introduced firsthand of really what it takes to do great things. - You have a young mind and you show them what to do and also when they're accomplishing something then there's a purpose, and you just see that, that happiness. - I think when I went away to chef school I, you know, you guys don't talk to your dad like every day? I talk to my dad every day. That's when I started to really realize how fortunate I was to have that foundation and how important it is to help you succeed. - This building is really special to me because this is where it all started for us. It was one of my dad's restaurants, it was called the Corner Grill. This was where I started working at nine years old. I was the best dishwasher around. - You get kind of chills kind of even being here. If the Corner Grill didn't exist, who knows what would have happened? We are here at one of my favorite local spots, Johnnie's Beef. My grandmother would take us here all the time. - Ahh. - You could smell the Johnnie's Beef from a mile away. This represents everything about my childhood. One of the best sandwiches in the world as far as I'm concerned. And on the side here, we have our Italian ice. This makes the five degree weather right now, you don't even feel it. Our relationship is something that you would only hope to have with your own child. At my grandfather's diner there was classic American egg, fried egg sandwich. I would love to be able to do something with the taste memory that I've had. So this is the evolution of Bannos family story. Well the J is our lovely jowls that we have here. What we do is cure the jowls and then we confit them in pork fat. Such a great texture and flavor that is not like anything else. Here at the Pig we have the magic plancha which turns bread into the greatest texture vehicle for a dish like this you could ever possibly imagine. We have our duck eggs, love duck eggs. Duck eggs have nice giant yolk. - [Voiceover] Whoa! - They use mayo, we do a nice classic aioli mixed with arugula pesto. We use some nice crise. You have to have tomato, you have to. It's non-negotiable. Look at that, just that beautiful fat from the jowl. Melts right in your mouth. There you have the perfect J-L-T. What's up, Mom and Dad? - Wow. - [Jimmy] As a chef it's the coolest thing you could ever possibly imagine, having your food memories immortalized and having thousands of people eat this. One of the greatest joys that there is. - The egg is so rich. - People go crazy for it, it's been voted one of the top dishes in Chicago. - Very good. - The Italian beef sandwich is one of the most important sandwiches in Chicago history and it's one of the most important sandwiches in my family. We season it the same way you would in a classic Italian beef, but doing it our way obviously with our nice wagyu beef short ribs. Having a lot of fun right now. This is my dream. Recreating a dish that I grew up eating and having a great time doing it. Can't ask for anything else. On the side we have lemon verbena Italian ice. It wouldn't be complete if you didn't have the beef and the Italian ice together. People feel like they're a kid again. You want people to feel like, you know, have fun. I am a very driven, obsessive, sometimes people say I'm crazy. You know. - I'm so proud of our boy, huh? - I am too. So proud of him. - Running around with Luciana and running around the hallways with her it's like just yesterday I was that kid. That's what I'm gonna do, you know? I'm gonna bring her with me. Just to hang out and see what Daddy does. I'm gonna do the same thing that my dad did with me. Hopefully it works out.

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