Independent Birmingham restaurant Opus has welcomed top Chicago chef Dirk Flanigan to its kitchen for a unique gastronomic collaboration, comprising no less than seven courses showcasing the culinary credentials of the Windy City.

The evening saw Flanigan, executive chef at The Gage and Henri, both on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, join forces with two AA-rosetted chef-director David Colcombe and his team at Opus Restaurant in a continuation of the prestigious Culinary Crossroads series launched in Flanigan’s home city six weeks ago.

The team served cuisine from both sides of the Atlantic to a sold-out restaurant, with Flanigan’s Chicagoan roots evident in his signature dishes, which included a smoked lamb tartare with curry emulsion, forbidden rice and lamb gastrique and squab pigeon with pied de bleu, truffle and a corn puree. Colcombe added traditional British touches such as a trio of pork served with apple and celeriac and an assiette of Staffordshire raspberries.

The evening, which was designed to promote the vibrant food offering of both cities, has further cemented the gastro-bond established during the NATO summit held in Chicago in May 2012, which saw chefs from around the world travel to the city to work together and compare cuisines.

On Friday 13th and Saturday 14th July, Flanigan and Colcombe took to the stage at the CBD Food Festival in Birmingham’s Victoria Square for a lively cookery demonstration featuring dishes they had served as part of the Culinary Crossroads meal. 

David Colcombe, chef director at Opus Restaurant and visiting professor of culinary arts at University College Birmingham, said: “Birmingham is finally beginning to attract international acclaim for its cuisine, with the likes of the New York Times and LA Times giving a glowing report of their respective visits to the city earlier this year. As well as welcoming the press when visiting us it is also important to get out around the world and take Birmingham on tour, which was the purpose of my trip to Chicago back in May.

“It was inspiring to work with Dirk during my visit to Chicago, so I had no hesitation in inviting him to join me in Birmingham. Two months later, he was in my kitchen for the CBD Food Festival here in Birmingham to bring his style and flavours to diners here.

“Our two cities are a natural pairing with similar attitudes and energy. I am delighted his bond has been strengthened through the Culinary Crossroads programme."

Dirk Flanigan added: “Birmingham has made me feel most welcome, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with David in his own restaurant. This should definitely become an annual exchange trip!

“Our two cities may be a nearly 4,000 miles apart, but for me the culinary similarities are astounding. There seems to be a rare passion and work ethic present in both David’s and my own brigade that you don’t often find. We’ve become something of a family and have an enormous mutual respect for one another.

“As well as David it has been a pleasure to meet other great Brummie chefs such as the Michelin-starred Glynn Purnell and Aktar Islam from Lasan. I have certainly taken on board a few ideas I will be taking back to my kitchen to incorporate into my menus - just in time for our own food festival, the Chicago Gourmet, at the end of September.”

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