After weathering several months of delays, classically trained Chicago Chef Mike Sheerin (Lutèce, Atlas, Jean-Georges, WD-50, Blackbird, Trenchermen, Cicchetti, Embeya) and business partner Aaron DiMaria (a self-proclaimed “locavore” with 20 years of restaurant operations management experience) officially opened doors to PACKED: dumplings reimagined (1321 E. 57th St.) for the Hyde Park lunch crowd mid-January.
Chef Sheerin, a Food & Wine “Best New Chef” who is widely known for his reputation to transform the traditional into the delightfully unexpected, takes his high-end kitchen talents to the fast-casual realm, creating a seasonal menu of dumplings rotating entirely on a monthly basis that diverge from the classic Asian style that usually comes to mind. More than 90 percent of the seasonal menu’s local ingredients are organic, while the few nonorganic ingredients are non-GMO.
"I’ve been blessed with a continued career in full service restaurants that have been unbelievably kind to me. With PACKED, I was presented with an opportunity that allows me to use my 'cooking life' experiences to further broaden my horizons as a chef in the ever changing and exciting fast-casual portion of the foodservice industry. We're having a lot of fun learning what we can do with dumplings, and we’ve fallen in love with our nook of the Hyde Park neighborhood."
Crafted with ingredients sourced from Chicago’s corner of the Great Lakes region, the dumpling menu’s selections rotate monthly and include a “PACKED” section, which has served up options such as Pastrami with pumpernickel, beer-braised onion, pickled green tomatoes, and violet mustard, as well as the vegetarian-friendly Butternut—a squash dumpling with sage, lady apples, a curry wrapper and balsamic caramel. The menu also includes a monthly rotating “LADLED” section with soup dumplings such as the Posole with braised pork shoulder, pasilla peppers, and hominy, as well as “SWEET” dumplings, such as a Banana dumpling with chocolate, Brazil nuts, nori-peanut butter, and whipped cream.
A significant part of the space pays tribute to PACKED's sustainable ethos with a visual nod to the farmers that supply the restaurant’s responsibly sourced ingredients. The counter service eatery also uses compostable service-ware, and features a to-go window to accommodate guests looking for a faster, more casual dining option.
“I think the beauty of PACKED is the fact that we’re taking the high caliber of Mike Sheerin’s cooking and making it casual enough that people can come in to enjoy it on a regular basis,” partner Aaron DiMaria says.
PACKED: dumplings reimagined is a fast-casual dumpling shop from classically trained and nationally renowned Chef Mike Sheerin (Lutèce, Atlas, Jean-Georges, WD-50, Blackbird, Trenchermen, Cicchetti, Embeya). Sheerin is joined in this venture by partner Aaron DiMaria, who brings more than 20 years of experience in restaurant operations management and front-of-house hospitality. PACKED provides a completely unexpected culinary interpretation of the traditional dumpling. With a dedicated emphasis on responsibly sourced ingredients and the Midwest farmers who provide that product, the menu selections at PACKED will vary by season. As Sheerin has earned a reputation for transforming the traditional into the delightfully unexpected, PACKED’s menu of dumplings will be vastly different from the classic Asian style dumpling that might initially come to mind.