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EXCLUSIVE: Devour The Nightmare Before Christmas at iNG

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 31, 2012 5:40PM

If you're a Tim Burton fan or a fan of interesting food (and doesn't that pretty much encompass everyone in the world?) you're going to love this. On the heels of their popular and successful Scorcese menu, iNG Restaurant has revealed their next themed menu: Nightmare Before Christmas. We talked with Chef Homaro Cantu about the concept, some of the dishes, and what visitors can expect from this new themed-menu.

The concept was actually crowdsourced from Facebook. A man in Ohio proposed Nightmare as a possible menu and his concept was the one chosen by the folks at iNG. Now this guy gets flown to Chicago, put up in a hotel and bought dinner for two at iNG. It's all part of Cantu's new social media giveaway push, which has included buying meals for random fans and giving a few diners at iNG the chance to eat at moto for free.

What does a Nightmare Before Christmas menu actually look like? Well, it's still somewhat in flux (everything at iNG is always being experimented with) but Cantu revealed a few of the dishes to us. In one dish, a skeletal silver hand clutches a baby pumpkin or gourd. Inside the gourd is a savory pumpkin custard laced with bourbon. The fun part? There is an edible wick inside the custard that will be lit like a candle - and you get to eat it. The whole thing is topped with a parsnip puree. "It looks like Halloween but tastes like Christmas," explained Cantu.

Another dish represents "a snowman running away from his shadow. The shadow is outlined, and the snowman is made of gin and tonic. We froth the gin and tonic and build a snowman out of it." Cantu explained that this course was a palate cleanser that incorporates his signature ingredient, the Miracle Berry. "The shadow outline is made of miracle berry powder, and the snowman will transition from savory to sweet as you eat it. Then, all of the desserts that come after will be sugar free, but they will taste sweet while you're tripping on the miracle berry." A third dish will involve a scene from Nightmare that is printed onto a steamed bun. The bun is paired with octopus that has been massaged for 45 minutes before being poached in oil. Afterwards, with the help of some liquid nitrogen to add temperature variations, the dish is plated such that it appears that the octopus is climbing out of the bowl.

For those that have been eagerly awaiting Cantu's new TV show, here's some news. According to Cantu, the first episode will be a "high pressure, action-packed show that follows us through the process of creating the menu." It'll be called The Nightmare Before Christmas and will be released in conjunction with the menu. Still no word on exactly how people will get ahold of the show, but the seasonal movie tie-in certainly can't hurt.

"This is the best tasting menu deal in the country right now," insisted Cantu. The menu costs $80 for six courses or $100 for 10 courses, both including wine pairings. Look for the menu to debut in mid-November when Scorcese ends.

iNG restaurant is located at 951 West Fulton Market.