By Kristin Boza
Beverly/Morgan Park resident Mark Hemmer is the new Chef de Cuisine at Horse Thief Hollow, 10426 S. Western Ave. An accomplished restauranteur and chef, Hemmer is happy to have the opportunity to make a culinary impact close to home.
A 2005 graduate of Loras College, Hemmer majored in public relations but didn’t feel too passionate about going into PR for his career.
“I was the guy who liked to man the grill and played around in the kitchen when I had people over,” he said. “People told me I was good at it and six weeks after graduation, I enrolled in Kendall College’s culinary program.”
After earning his culinary degree, Hemmer worked at Magnolia Café in Uptown. Under its owner and Chef Kasra Medhat, he worked his way up from intern to running the kitchen. Hemmer opened his own restaurant, Bridge House Tavern in River North, which he owned for nearly eight years before the building’s owner sought a bigger tenant to pay a higher rent.
Hemmer went on to open Angry Pig in Wicker Park, but after a while grew tired of the commute and missed being able to spend more time with his family. He had a buyer and was set to close on Mar. 18, 2020, but the deal fell through when COVID-19 shut down the city’s restaurants.
“My plan was to sell Angry Pig and open up a smaller place here in Beverly. Beverly is a great community and can always use more good restaurants,” Hemmer said. However, COVID-19 squashed those plans, and he ended up working in Colorado for a time before the opportunity opened at Horse Thief Hollow.
“I’ve been familiar with Horse Thief Hollow for years; when I talked to Neil (Byers, owner of Horse Thief Hollow) and said I was interested in the chef position, it all just worked out great. I’m happy to be back in the neighborhood close to my kids. I’m hoping we can bring some fun food to the community,” Hemmer said.
Hemmer and the Horse Thief team’s strategic vision is to lift the cuisine to a “polished casual” vibe.
“Our food is very approachable and fun, but also elegant and elevated — and all at a fair price point,” Hemmer said. “We want to keep the cuisine affordable and accessible for everybody.”
One of Hemmer’s favorite new dishes is the Tenderloin Burger. Beef tenderloin from locally raised Argus steer is ground into a patty and topped with truffle mayo, arugula, bacon jam, triple cream brie, crispy shallots, Dijon mustard, and fig and balsamic preserves on a toasted brioche bun.
“We just put this burger out a couple weeks ago and it hits that perfect sweet spot of elevated polished casual dining,” Hemmer said. “It’s still a burger, but it’s not just a burger. You get so many flavors that come together in every bite; it’s my favorite at the moment and people really love it.”
At home, Hemmer loves to grill for his friends and family. “I get different cuts of meat — steak, pork, lamb, and seafood — and grill a smorgasbord of stuff and set it out all on one big platter for people to pick at,” he said. “That’s always so fun, and it’s more about getting together with friends and having a good time with great food.”
Horse Thief Hollow’s winter menu launches in November with four or five new dishes. Keep an eye out for it at Facebook.com/HorseThiefHollow and Instagram @HorseThiefHollow.
Check out Chef Mark Hemmer’s Horseradish Crusted Tenderloin, a favorite dish perfect for holiday entertaining.
2 tbsp. minced garlic
3 tbsp. minced shallots
1/2 lb. butter
8 oz horseradish
Salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme to taste
Sauté the garlic and shallots in a pain; add the butter and melt together. Add in fresh rosemary, thyme, and the horseradish. Mix until it has the consistency of applesauce.
Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper, and brush the horseradish mixture over it. Roast for 30 minutes. Then, take it out and let it rest before slicing.
Serve with horseradish whipped cream (perfect for added spiciness) on dinner rolls.
Horseradish Whipped Cream
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup heavy cream
Horseradish to taste
Blend together until creamy and serve.