Chef brings New Orleans flavor to Chicago

Mardi Gras is just around the corner, so a lot of Chicagoans will be heading over to Wicker Park to get a taste of New Orleans at a restaurant called Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods.

Chef Brian Jupiter’s neighborhood hot spot brings back memories of his childhood, serving up authentic cuisine while letting the good times roll year round.

When Mardi Gras season rolls around, Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods is in its element. The Wicker Park restaurant specializes in southern Creole cuisine.

"So the gumbo is my grandmother's recipe," Jupiter said.

Jupiter is in the kitchen cooking up recipes he grew up eating and influenced by his great-grandmother, who his place is named after.


"So Ina Mae was my great-grandmother. She lives in Unita, Louisiana, very small town, and she was probably the nicest little lady ever," Jupiter said.

Besides the seafood gumbo, there's red beans and rice, fried chicken, biscuits, beignets and more.

It's a taste of the Big Easy from a chef with New Orleans roots who says this style of cooking is truly an art form.

"When you are from there you cook it different, and it's a challenge to teach people how to cook New Orleans food that's not from there as well because it's more so about looking and tasting and smelling," Jupiter said.

Jupiter's food has been recognized by the prestigious Michelin Guide, and if you want to take it home, they sell his special seasoned flour, hot sauces and more.

It's just one of two restaurants he owns. The other is called Frontier, which focuses on whole smoked meats

But Ina Mae is Jupiter’s love.

"This is my heart. You know I eat red beans and rice every day. I eat gumbo almost every day and so you know this gives me a chance to go home," he said.

Jupiter is all about family inspiration and inspiring others. He recognizes his role as a celebrity chef comes with a price. A responsibility to hopefully motivate other aspiring chefs of color and in general young people of color to realize hard work can equal success.

"The push through is really in you. It is built in you. And I can say that about every Black person that walks the streets is that we are built different because of what we've been through as a people. And so whether you know it or not, it's in you to fight to do it to prevail," Jupiter said.

And prevail he has. But Jupiter's work isn't done yet.

"I want to have the opportunity to allow people who are struggling to open restaurants, you know, aid them in their journey of doing it the right way," he said.