Duck Inn team honored in Tribune Dining Awards

Rockit Ranch is excited to announce that our Partner/ Head Chef at the Duck Inn Kevin Hickey was announced as the Chicago Tribune’s Chef of the Year. Duck Inn Bartender Brandon Phillips was also honored as the Tribune’s bartender of the year.

The Duck Inn’s Chef Kevin Hickey and Bartender Brandon Phillips won big in The Chicago Tribune’s Annual Dining awards with Hickey named as Chef of the Year and Phillips named as Bartender of the Year. The Chicago Tribune Dining Awards honor culinary industry professionals for outstanding work in the previous year at new restaurants, and the Duck Inn’s talent has proven itself as nothing short of incredible.

CHEF OF THE YEAR

Kevin Hickey, The Duck Inn

“His rotisserie duck for two is stop-what-you’re-doing, drag-yourself-to-Bridgeport great.”

“With The Duck Inn that Hickey has discovered his sweet spot: It’s at once mass populism (packed on weekends; fried cheese curds with bloody Mary ketchup), antithetical to ostentatious Hubbard Street restaurants, and there’s outsider cred in operating a Michelin-ambition restaurant in Bridgeport, where Hickey grew up,” Kevin Pang, Chicago Tribune Food Contributor, said.

“Personal accolades aside (Esquire’s best new restaurant list, Michelin Bib Gourmand), Hickey holds the honor of creating the finest duck dish in Chicago — his rotisserie duck for two is stop-what-you’re-doing, drag-yourself-to-Bridgeport great.”

BARTENDER OF THE YEAR

Brandon Phillips, The Duck Inn

“Brandy & Cigars, a $30 cocktail served in an oversize snifter filled with cigar smoke, was the first drink that put Brandon Phillips, a young bartender from Wisconsin heading up the bar at Bottlefork in River North, on our radar,” Chicago Tribune contributor, Marissa Conrad, said.

“When you tilt a glass that big to your lips, your nose can’t help but dip into the bowl, forcing you to savor the smoky aroma. Genius.”

“There’s not a throwaway cocktail to be found on his list: Every drink is creative, inspired and, most important, tastes as good as it sounds, from The Duck Out, with duck-fat-washed cognac to the Kingdom of Koryo, with Korean fruit punch, rice punch and soda,” Conrad said.

Phillips’ enthusiasm about his work makes having a seat at his bar a special experience. “Sit down at his bar and ask about a spirit you don’t recognize and he’ll explain the history of it, bring the bottle over so you can smell it, and, more likely than not, pour you a taste,” Conrad said.

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