Tonight I was welcomed into the magical place of Whole Foodsland. It was glorious (I think I see Blue….)! As a chef who spends on average 8 hours in a Whole Foods store every week (that translates into 4 or 5 trips) I can tell you I have seen the inside of many a Whole Foods location, new and old and this is a beaut.
No new store can even come close to the grandeur and beauty of this store. I liken it to my own little Disneyland (that I get to visit every week!!!). It is a huge candy shop for those who are health conscious, those who have allergies, those who want pure and unadulterated food and those who value a green grocer.
Now, for my play by play…
After I parked my car on the second floor of the covered parking garage (located adjacent to the store) I took the escalator down to the first floor where I was greeted by a beautiful mahogany and brass bartop belonging to the coffee house/local beer bar, 1550.
Next I met my lovely friend and amazing dietitian, Dawn Jackson Blatner, and we walked into the expansive section called “Whole Body.” The Whole Body section provides organic and sustainable clothing, yoga equipment, mind/body/spirit literature, cookbooks, beauty products and specialty health foods.
It was in this section that I spotted Dawn’s cookbook prominently displayed and looking great!
After we weaved our way through beautyland (not without a handful of samples from Jurlique, Burt’s Bees and ZumBar soap) we popped through the produce section where we were stopped by Rick Bayless at his Frontera Grill station (thanks Rick for coming even during the NRA show! You’re a trooper...). The steel and wood fish case was next. A wraparound design with a high bar on one end to sit and enjoy some fresh fish was really a sight, I can’t wait to see it filled with all the lovely colors of sea critters!
Then we saw the holy of most holies. The bulk bins. Now, just to warn you, I am going to spend some time on this section. I am going to get all cartooney with my high voice and excitement level and jump up and down and clap my hands like a little girl who just got a pony. Seriously, I heart the bulk bins here. I am including some pics so you can sort of get an idea of how massive this section is. These sleek containers house everything from garbanzo beans to buckwheat groats to locally produced granola to organic malted milk balls (they’re delish. Yes, of course, I have had them)! Now, I am a HUGE advocate for the bulk bins as you are able to get as little or as much as you need for one or fifty recipes. Also, it saves on
packaging and the labor cost of making, filling and shipping all those cute little resealable bags (you know you like those rice bags. Time to let go….). There is a make your own granola bar. (Skip and clap inserted here.) There is a nut butter station. (Squeek of excitement here.) And last but not least there is a – get ready for it….here it comes….oh, boy- a bulk sweetener section! (Heel click, squeaky chirp of excitement and lots of happy giggles should definitely be inserted here.) This section holds local honeys and agave nectar. YAY!
Next we hit up the wine and cheese section where Dawn informed me I was most certainly a “bad influence” on her. What? That’s crazy. The wine selection is lovely and next to it a wine and cheese bar stands, with a high bar, stools. Here you have the option to have wines by the glass and to have wine and cheese flights. How fun is that?
After we turned around and noticed all the different Kefir yogurts (Dawn is addicted…) our eyes moved down the row towards the milk selections and the egg selections. That's when
I noticed these darling little farm fresh eggs, nestled into a sweet little home of faux hay.I mean, could that be cuter?!
Next we stopped at the Vosges sample table because you would have to be clinically deemed INSANE to walk past that, down the aisle a bit I made Dawn try some mate tea (delish if you haven’t had it) and then I believe we did get more wine. Oops!
We scooted past the bakery (trouble!), through the Chicago dedicated eateries (Pilsen Taqueria, Taylor Street Italian, etc.) and past the immense selection at the Food Bars. At this point we were like two kids at Christmas. We couldn’t stop looking around and getting excited about the quinoa flakes or the agar agar or the selection of bulk spices!
Overall, it is really a stunning shop, worth stopping by any time of the day and we didn’t even see the riverwalk! (it’s a huge section with outdoor seating along the Chicago river, supposed to be stunning) The staff was extremely friendly and the vendors were incredible. The events they have lined up for the summer are family friendly in addition to some that are geared towards the dude and some for the ladies. Well done!
Thank you Whole Foods for offering us this sneak peak! I am most certainly looking forward to learning the zigs and the zags of this new store. Bulk Bins, I’ll be seein’ you soon!