The kosher crusader
Erik Williams, 29
Chef de cuisine, Morgan Harbor Grill
A penchant for pork is practically a chef requirement, so how did Williams (a non-Jew) end up at a 40-year-old kosher fish shop in the heart of Chicago’s Orthodox Jewish community? Turns out, before cooking at Volo and BIN 36, he worked as a fishmonger for both Burhop’s and Dirk’s. Still, the task of bringing contemporary cuisine to the kosher community can be tough. According to the laws of kosher pareve, Williams not only can’t serve dairy or beef, but owner Aharon Morgan, the acting mashgiach, must inspect everything, from each arugula leaf (for ride-hitching insects) to every sheet of nori (for stray crustacean bits). But once given the green light, Williams gives the sushi-grade fish a refined, Asian treatment, resulting in tuna tartare with sesame oil and chile paste and tempura-battered walleye with ponzu-spiked malt vinegar—dishes that are necessarily kosher, but don’t necessarily taste like it. 2948 W Devon Ave, 773-764-8115.