Mindy Segal
1747 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647-5508
(773) 489-1747

Biography »

Antoinette Bruno: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
Mindy Segal: New York

AB: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created or use in an unusual way?
MS: I like to cook fruit in its juices or in juices of another fruit. I like to make reduction sauces of the fruit juices and then cook fruit in that. It’s a technique that I borrowed from Charlie Trotter and Sherry Yard, and I have taken it to the next level.

AB: What are your favorite restaurants –off the beaten path – in Chicago?
MS: Lula Café; La Isla Maria for Mexican. They make these langoustines that have this butter spice on it.

AB: What trends do you see emerging in the restaurant industry now?
MS: I believe that savory ingredients in dessert have to be very well executed. You must be able to execute the best vanilla ice cream before you can make corn ice cream.

AB: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
MS: I have to pay my investors back! I plan on doing one more HOTCHOCOLATE and then a dessert concept.


Mindy Segal

Mindy Segal combines her innate instinct for flavor combinations with her commitment to seasonal, local and sustainable products. The result is desserts that are truly American. Each creation is rooted in nostalgia, but with contemporary twist. A graduate of Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts, Segal landed the pastry assistant post at Ambria working under Chef Judy Contino, whom Segal credits as her biggest influence. She refined her craft in the kitchens of Spago, Gordon and Charlie Trotter’s, before eventually helping Chef Michael Kornick launch his River North eatery, mk the restaurant. At mk, Segal developed a loyal following for her desserts like One Banana Two Banana and Cake-n-Shake, while earning numerous accolades from local and national media. Chef Segal’s solo venture, HOTCHOCOLATE, offers a savory and sweet menu that is a marriage of clever and classic.


Hook's Blue Cheese Cheesecake with Port Wine Poached Pears, Port Caramel and Candied Walnuts
Chef Mindy Segal of HOTCHOCOLATE – Chicago, IL
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 6-8 Servings


  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 ounces Hook’s blue cheese, room temperature
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly cracked pepper
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (clover or orange)
    Poached Pears:
  • 1 bottle port wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Rind of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 6 ripe, medium-sized pears (bartlet, forelle, or comice)
    Port Wine Caramel:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, separated
  • 3 ½ ounces corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup pear poaching liquid
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cracked pepper

    Sugared Walnuts:
  • 1Tablespoon egg whites
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup walnuts


For Cheesecake:
Preheat oven to 250°F. In an electric stand mixer cream the cream cheese until smooth. Add the blue cheese and continue to cream. Add eggs one at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add salt, pepper, sour cream and honey. Combine completely.

Spray an 8-inch spring form pan with vegetable spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray again. Pour cheesecake batter into the pan and bake until set, about 20 minutes.

For Poached Pears:
In a heavy-duty sauce pot, combine all ingredients except for pears and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust flavor. Reduce by a quarter. Meanwhile, peel skin off pears and add skin to poaching liquid. Cut pears in half and core out pits. (The best way to do this is with a Parisian scoop.) Strain poaching liquid and add pears. Bring to a simmer and poach until pears are tender. Place pears and liquid in a non-clear container. Cover with plastic and let sit overnight at room temperature. Reserve 1 cup poaching liquid for port wine caramel.

For Port Wine Caramel:
In a heavy-duty sauce pot cook 1 cup sugar with corn syrup until dark amber. In another pot heat cream and poaching liquid just until it boils; keep warm. When the sugar is amber, add the remaining sugar, ¼-cup at a time. Mix well after each addition. Add cream mixture slowly, and let reduce after each addition. Season with salt and pepper.

For Sugared Walnuts:
Mix egg whites together with sugar and salt. Coat walnuts with the mixture and bake at 350° F until golden brown.

To Serve:
Cut cheesecake into 6-8 slices. Serve each slice with poached pear, port wine caramel and candied walnuts.

   Published: November 2005