Chef/owner Cleetus Friedman started City Provisions as monthly farm dinner supper clubs, before opening his Ravenswood deli and catering company in 2010. This was after writing and performing as an aggressive, white, Jewish, hip-hop artist. Friedman works hands-on with local artisans, from bees to beers, and most recently a sparkling wine with Illinois Sparkling Company and Rare Tea Cellar called Freak of Nature. He built the shop with reclaimed materials, stocks it fiercely locally, bans petroleum-based materials in his kitchen, recycles, composts, and even cuts up squares of his own freshly laundered old T-shirts to use as hand towels. Friedman says when he looks around his shop he doesn’t see products—he sees relationships. Sit inside or out in the shadow of the Brown Line tracks, on an otherwise quiet and tree-lined stretch of Wilson, when weather permits. He employs his own in-house butcher and still cooks frequent farm dinners onsite, somehow finding time as the father of twins. Friedman, who lost his own father to scleroderma in 1991, helped create Cooking Up a Cure, which raises funds for the Scleroderma Foundation Greater Chicago Chapter.
Photo: Louisa Chu