Today’s Food Newsbits: Schrager Purchases Chicago’s Pump Room, Celeb Chefs Spreading Healthy Food Message


It was announced last week that hotelier Ian Schrager, popular for his top hotels in Miami and New York, recently closed on his latest acquisition, Chicago’s famed Pump Room. According to Crain’s New York, the Windy City destination, long popular with celebs, is part of a purchase that also includes the Ambassador East hotel. Schrager says his plans for the locations have not been finalized, but are expected to take upwards of nine months to determine and a year to implement. Regardless of the final details, the hotelier assures city citizens that they can expect respect and restoration of the renowned location.

“The restaurant and Ambassador East have a certain DNA and ethos,” Mr. Schrager said. “We’re going to be very sensitive and respectful of all that. … If I don’t do the right thing, I’ll be run out of town on a rail—I know the way people of Chicago are.”

“It will still be the Pump Room and the Ambassador East, only better,” Mr. Schrager said. “We’re going to use our good design and our creative ideas and unique approach to pull off something very special.”

Jamie Oliver’s new Food Revolution prime-time series has made waves since its recent premiere. Based on the great messages encapsulated in a cookbook of the same name, Oliver started the season by taking his meal-changing ways to a West Virginia town to try to change minds, and views, of healthy eating.

According to Yahoo News, however, the well-known Brit isn’t the only one utilizing his status to better America’s eating habits. In addition to organic pioneer Alice Waters and sustainable seafood advocate Rick Moonen, more pop culture television food personalities, like Alton Brown and Paula Deen, are now working to further healthy habits. Even Rachael Ray has gotten into the act, focusing her efforts on school lunches across the nation.

“Everything has to change — access to food, attitudes, education,” says Ray, who designs healthy recipes for the New York City school lunch program and started the Yum-o! charity, which raises money to teach kids healthy eating.

While Chef Oliver is well-known for his work within both the UK and US school lunch systems, I hope the new turn by food personalities isn’t just a marketing move. I’m often curious about chefs who have a more of a public persona and their responsibilities to promote healthy eating. Bourdain chimed in on the matter during our recent interview.

~Jennifer Heigl