Philip Preston is as comfortable chatting about DNA amplification as he is deconstructed desserts.
Preston, 57, is president of Polyscience in Niles, which makes temperature-control equipment for the industrial and scientific markets. But chefs know him as the creator of such high-tech kitchen tools as the Sous Vide thermal circulator, Anti-Griddle and Smoking Gun.
He’s more food geek than snob. Ask him to describe meals that move him and he gets all giddy.
“Darn cool,” he’ll say. “Just awesome.”
At home in Northfield, the father of three grows vegetables, raises chickens, tends to 29 fruit trees and cooks often and well, which plays into his dining-out decisions.
“That’s why I almost never go to a steakhouse,” Preston says. “Because I can cook a steak as well as anybody.”
Yusho cool:Yusho [2853 N. Kedzie] is one of my go-tos. They just don’t get any better than [chef Matthias Merges]. He is so talented and yet a sweet, humble guy… My daughter, her favorite thing on earth is the chicken skin. She just thinks it’s the coolest thing ever, that you can actually order chicken skin.”
High bar: I went to Longman & Eagle [2657 N. Kedzie] for the first time. Man, it was just awesome… I started out with bone marrow and foie gras and scallops that were just perfect. They nailed it. And then a really nice pork chop with a Concord grape barbecue sauce. We had two desserts. One had Meyer lemon and my wife said it was maybe the best dessert she’d ever eaten.
Top tapas:Cafe Marbella [5527 N. Milwaukee Ave.] is kind of in no man’s land. Usually, I’ll eat tapas and think, ‘Yeah, I liked 50 percent of what I had.’ But this place, it was like one thing was better than the next.
Honest food: At Guildhall [694 Vernon Ave., Glencoe], they’re not trying to push the envelope on being innovative. They’re just really cooking. Simple stuff — it might be steak frites or a good pork chop or a nice piece of fish. They have great matchbooks and a pretty good Manhattan, I might add.
L’amour: I’ve had a longstanding love affair with Oceanique [505 Main St., Evanston]. [Chef Mark Grosz] does really rock-solid, traditional French cooking… He does beautiful sauces. His foie gras appetizer and his skate entree and his Napoleon dessert — that’s the trilogy right there.