Table Talk

Taste of the West Side

This year the Taste of Chicago is doing something a little different so you can get your very own taste of the West Side!

Taste of Chicago To-Go is a new and reimagined program presented in place of this year’s Taste of Chicago festival in Grant Park. The program includes free music, dance and food events across the city featuring nearly 40 participating eateries and promoting Chicago’s amazing restaurant industry. Learn more and see the full event calendar here.

Taste of the West Side - Taste of Chicago To-Go
Taste of Chicago To-Go

As part of the tour, the Garfield Park Neighborhood Market is being transformed into a pop-up Taste of the West Side event on Saturday, July 10th from 10 AM to 2 PM at The Hatchery located at 135 N. Kedzie Avenue.

Taste of the West Side will also include the unveiling of the I Am Community art installation, supported by Mars Wrigley Foundation, LISC Chicago, Allies for Community Business, Industrial Corridor of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC), and GPCC, highlighting champions of healthy food on the West Side.

Taste of the West Side Vendors

  • ‘Laine’s Bake Shop
  • All That Flava
  • Bartleby’s Ice Cream Cakes
  • Basix Rx
  • Cocoa Chili Foods
  • Cooking from the soul
  • Èchey Candles
  • Egg Rolls Etc
  • Ezmilk
  • Fulton Street Flower and Vegetable Garden
  • J Spice
  • Kavnia Coffee Company
  • LusOasis
  • Mansfield’s Kitchen
  • Mr E Chef’s Barbecue
  • Ms. Gina’s Medley
  • Old Arthur’s Barbecue
  • Sea Moss Infused
  • Seth Shreds
  • Sugarwugga’s
  • Tubby’s Taste

Customers will be able to shop for local fresh produce from the Garfield Park Garden Network. Link card users can get double-value SNAP benefits on local produce through Link Up Illinois!

Drop by Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering‘s booth tomorrow for free samples of our Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice & Peas!*

We’ll also have our Spicy Jerk Sauce & Marinade and Cocoa Chili Spice Blend available for sale along with our famous CPS Lunchroom Butter Cookies!

Can’t make it tomorrow? No worries!

Place your takeout or delivery order now.

*Free samples available while supplies last.

GMA3 Features Cocoa Chili

On April 2, 2021, GMA3 featured Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering on their noon CST broadcast. The What You Need To Know segment is titled, ‘Business coach cooks up a secret sauce for success: Chicago entrepreneur Niquenya Collins now works for Cocoa Chili Foods.’

ABC 7's GMA3 features Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering on the show!

Check out the ABC 7 segment and Owner & Executive Chef Niquenya’s inspiration for starting the brand including her family roots. Niquenya also discusses pivoting her business coaching practice and how serving delicious food while helping others has always been the goal.

You can learn more about Niquenya on Our Story page.

Real Chat Daddy Show Feature

On Tuesday, March 30th, Owner and Executive Chef Niquenya Collins was featured on The Real Chat Daddy Show in celebration of Women’s History Month and Chicago Restaurant Week.

The Real Chat Daddy Show featuring Chef Niquenya of Cocoa Chili Foods
https://therealchatdaddy.com

The show, ran by Art “Chat Daddy” Sims, covers all the top news and entertainment stories of the day and all the latest COVID-19 statistics.

According to the show’s website, Chat Daddy is a familiar and welcomed voice in many diverse communities in Chicago and around the world. Known for humor, quick wit, charming conversation and amiable personality, “Chat Daddy” has traveled both nationally and international, providing inspirational, educational and vital information on the development and maintenance of positive, sustainable relationships.

Tuesday’s show was co-hosted by Christopher C. Avent Sr. Also featured was, Tiffany Williams, aka Chef Mama, owner and operator of Exquisite Catering & Events, a fine dining establishment focused on international cuisine in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

During the show, Chat Daddy talked about the delicious jerk chicken dinner we sent over for him to try. He not only loved the meal but also was particularly taken by Chef Niquenya’s unique seasoning of our fried plantains. Chef Niquenya described them as pan-fried in olive oil with a sweet “warmth.”

Chris chimed in with his appreciation of our intentional use of herbs and spices to develop layers of flavor rather than simply focusing on making dishes spicy. We also discussed how food can be used as the catalyst to bring people together and connect them back to their roots. Chat Daddy made sure to remind his audience of the importance of wearing masks, socially distancing, and staying home while COVID-19 numbers are still on the rise.

The Real Chat Daddy Show airs nightly, Monday though Thursday, at 7 PM CST. Watch the full broadcast below and feel free to leave your thoughts about the lively discussion in the comments.

Chicago Restaurant Week 2021

Chicago Restaurant Week is back this year running from Friday, March 19th through Sunday, April 4th and Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering will be participating to serve up our Afro-Caribbean-Soul fanfare with a sweet and spicy flair!

Throughout the duration of this annual promotional event, diners can enjoy special prix fixe menus from restaurants throughout Chicago and nearby suburbs.

These multi-course meals are $25 for brunch or lunch, and $39 and/or $55 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, gratuity, and delivery fees).

Our prix fixe contribution is set as a $39 meal deal that includes your choice of starter (Creole Gumbo or Caribbean Salad), your choice of entrée (Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Curry Chicken, Senegalese Poulet Yassa, or Caribbean Salmon with Mango Salsa), Fried Plantain, Coco Bread, and a trio of Lunchroom Butter Cookies.

Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering is participating in Chicago Restaurant Week 2021. See our prix fixe menu!

Creole Gumbo, Caribbean Salad, Lunchroom Butter Cookies, and Coco Bread are new additions to our menu and will begin being readily available in our regular pickup and delivery options at the conclusion of Chicago Restaurant Week.

Our Creole Gumbo is a warm and savory tradition that harkens back to Chef Niquenya’s Louisiana family roots. Shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage are married with traditional herbs and spices and the “holy trinity” of celery, green bell peppers, and onions in our thick, red roux.

The Caribbean Salad contain salad greens, pineapples, and mandarin oranges accompanied by our house dressing. Coco Bread is a starchy, sweet, Caribbean sandwich bread that serves as the perfect carrier for spicy meats and sauces.

Finally, rounding out the menu are Lunchroom Butter Cookies, a long-time Chicago favorite. These buttery sweet and flaky cookies send any former Chicago Public School student into an instant state of nostalgia.

We are truly excited to be participating in Chicago Restaurant Week 2021 and are looking forward to pleasing your palate! Visit eatitupchicago.com for more information about participating restaurants today!

Local Support Makes a Difference

It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has been hit pretty hard during these times. Without local support, stay-at-home orders, capacity limitations, pivots to delivery and takeout only, and so many other constraints can be devastating to small businesses.

As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to spread, restaurants have been forced to change operations, cancel gatherings and even close. Those who are surviving are counting their blessings daily despite thriving in this age of uncertainty for large and small businesses alike.

Starting up during a global pandemic has definitely been challenging for our small restaurant to get going. We want you to know how much we appreciate all of our customers. Your support means everything to us and we sincerely thank you for connecting and choosing to try out our Afro-Caribbean-Soul fare with a sweet and spicy flair! 

You can always continue to give us your local support by purchasing your next meal. There’s a special coupon code below that you can use to get a discount. Here are 5 more ways you can help us keep our operations afloat and pay our staff of local community members…

  1.  Contribute to our iFundWomen crowdfunding campaign.
  2.  Shop our products on the Illinois Products Online Marketplace
  3.  Order meal prep and delivery from the Shef program.
  4.  Vote for Cocoa Chili Foods to receive a Nav grant.
  5.  Submit your vote for owner Niquenya Collins as your Favorite Chef.
Thank you for your local support of our small business!

Want to get dinner from us tonight? Use discount code “5OFF” to take $5 off your next order of $20 or more before taxes, tips, and delivery charges. Order ahead for later pickup or delivery between 4 PM and 8 PM CST. Not eligible to be combined with any other offer. Offer expires 2/28/2021.

Thank you again for your continued support of our small business. We can’t succeed without you!

Meal Prep & Delivery Now Available

You’ve asked and now we’re answering with a new option for meal prep and delivery!

Now you can have our delicious Afro-Caribbean-Soul fare with a sweet and spicy flair delivered directly to your doorstep at home. Our founder and Executive Chef, Niquenya, has joined the Shef program that kicked off today in Chicago.

Meal prep, short for meal preparation, is the concept of preparing whole meals or dishes ahead of schedule. It’s particularly popular amongst busy people because it can save a lot of time. Having pre-prepared meals on hand can also reduce portion size and help you reach your nutrition goals.

Shef is a community-based platform where trained and certified cooks can safely share their homemade meals and traditional recipes with their neighbors. All shefs are vetted and trained to follow strict food safety standards in compliance with local regulations. Shefs are located in neighborhoods across the country. You need only enter your zip code to explore who’s cooking near you!

All of the meals you order are made fresh by your Shef. Hot dishes are prepared fresh and then cooled in time for delivery. All meals will arrive cold in an insulated bag with ice packs. Your food will be delivered to your doorstep between 3pm and 8pm on your scheduled delivery date. Don’t worry if you’re not home; your food will be left at your door in a cold insulated bag! Feel free to heat them up for dinner or put them in the refrigerator to enjoy later—completely up to you! Just heat, eat…and repeat!

As a special offer to all our local patrons in Chicago, please enjoy your first meal on us. Just sign up and use discount code “chifriends” to take up to $25 off your first order.

Shef meal prep and delivery service is now live in Chicago!

Corporate partnerships are also available. Now that more teams are working from home, Shef is a wonderful way to show your employees care and support during this difficult time by sharing the gift of homemade food. For larger parties that need prepared food served hot, you can still check out our Catering options.

Time Out Chicago Thinks We’re #1

We are so excited to announce that we have been rated number one in the best new restaurants to check out by Time Out Chicago!

The article features 30 different new restaurants that have hit the scene recently and Cocoa Chili appears at the top of the list with the accompanying blurb…

“The best new restaurants in Chicago are packed with personality and creativity, offering new ways to dine in uncertain times. Take Cocoa Chili for example: Career coach Niquenya Collins is living out her dream of owning a restaurant with a new Afro-Caribbean-soul food concept.”

Morgan Olsen – Time Out Chicago

We are only beginning our 4th day of operation but already we are gathering a great following and have been receiving wonderful reviews from our customers.

Thank you to all who continue to support our vision. We look forward to continuing to serve you our Afro-Caribbean-Soul fanfare with a sweet and spicy flair.

Cocoa Chili Restaurant & Catering rated #1 in best restaurants to check out by Time Out Chicago

Love Fridge Feeding the Community

At close of business on Friday, February 5th, we partnered with West Town Feeds to provide meals for a few of The Love Fridge locations in our local community.

We stocked the Humboldt Park and Palmer Square fridges with our signature Cocoa Chili and our authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Senegalese Poulet Yassa dinners. Every meal was packaged in microwavable containers making them both easy to transport and heat up.

Humboldt Park Love Fridge at Dirt Farms
Humboldt Park Love Fridge at Dirt Farms

The Love Fridge is a Chicago-based initiative created to nourish our communities through mutual aid by offering solutions to food scarcity and food waste. The program firmly believes that feeding oneself is not a privilege, but a right.

With food insecurity at an all-time high, keeping our communities fed is now more important than ever. Volunteers come from all over Chicago, working within their own neighborhoods to collaborate with like-minded partners to place community refrigerators across the city.

These refrigerators, painted by local artists to reflect the communities in which they live, provide neighbors the opportunity to donate food as well as take what they need, ensuring accessible food 24/7.

West Town Feeds is another community initiative that aims to provide 50-100 plus hot meals a day to our neighbors experiencing homelessness. One of the biggest advocates and champions of this program is Robert Magiet of Takorea Cocina who has not only been featured on local news media for his tireless commitment to helping our community, but has also inspired us to give back in this specific way as well.

We absolutely love these programs and want to remain active participants in tackling food scarcity and the food desert issue. These initiatives are also in direct alignment with our social mission to expose our community to unique, sustainably-sourced, educational foodie experiences that increase awareness and access to opportunities to improve the lives of those whom we serve.

You can help us to continue feeding the community by purchasing a Meal for a Neighbor with your own takeout food order. Your generous $5 contribution allows us to contribute a discounted full meal including entrée and sides to local Love Fridge locations within our community.

Thank you for your support!

ABC 7 Chicago News Segment

On Monday, February 1st, we launched our brand new, 100% black- and woman-owned restaurant with a special segment by Tanja Babich on ABC 7 Chicago midday news in the 11 AM hour.

ABC 7 Chicago has started a new segment called “Small Business Boost” that highlights minority and woman-owned businesses in Chicago. The segment featured our owner and Executive Chef, Niquenya Collins.

In case you missed it, here’s the video clip of ABC 7 Chicago’s media coverage…

We are so grateful for our team at PR 4 Good who has been instrumental in making critical contacts and getting us in front of media throughout Chicago to get our story seen and heard. Our small, black, and woman-owned business salutes you!

Don’t forget to place your order now and take 10% off your total as a first time customer. We look forward to serving you our Afro-Caribbean-Soul fare with a sweet and spicy flair!

ABC 7 Chicago News Coverage

Grand Opening February 1st!

After many long days and nights, we are excited to finally announce our grand opening!

We will be officially opening our doors for pickup orders via our website on Monday, February 1, 2021. Our hours will be from 2 PM to 8 PM CST with pickup available beginning at 4 PM CST.

You can place your order, prepay online, then schedule your pickup time. Pickup takes place at the rear of our shared kitchen space in The Hatchery at the corner of Albany and Maypole. Look for all the curbside pickup signage. The exact address of the pickup location is 3101 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60612 in the Humboldt Park community of Chicago.

You can start placing orders beginning today an use the “Order Ahead” feature on our menu to schedule up to 3 days in advance. Just some of the delicious items available include our authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken and signature Cocoa Chili.

We will also have a Caribbean Salmon with Mango Salsa dish that you’ll want to try as soon as possible. And don’t forget about the Yassa Poulet which is a traditional meal from Senegal.

For catering orders, please submit an inquiry on the contact page.

Cocoa Chili Restaurant team prepping for grand opening day

We will also be kicking off our new business with a special segment on ABC 7 Chicago Midday News this Monday, February 1st around 11:45 AM CST. Make sure to tune in.

Remember, we are still raising funds through our crowdfunding campaign on iFundWomen. Any contribution you make helps our 100% black- and woman-owned business achieve our mission to expose our community to unique, sustainably-sourced, educational foodie experiences that increase awareness and access to opportunities to improve the lives of those whom we serve.

We are so excited to finally announce our grand opening. We look forward to serving you our delicious Afro-Caribbean-Soul fanfare with a sweet and spicy flair!