When people talk about what food Chicago is famous for, the first thing mentioned is “deep dish pizza”. Well, another Chicago food tradition (and a personal favorite) actually started back in 1966 with the opening of Eli’s the Place for Steak. Chicago style cheesecake was introduced to diners at the restaurant in the late 1970’s as the signature dessert.
Eli’s Cheesecake: A little history
Long time restaurateur, Eli Schulman, had successfully created two previous dining venues before opening Eli’s the Place for Steak just off the Magnificent Mile. He had a celebrity following from legends Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. among other notable people. While the restaurant was known for delicious meals and excellent service, it was Eli’s kindness and compassion that stretched far and wide. His motto was “charity will never bust you” which he demonstration during the great depression by hanging a sign in his restaurant window stating “if you are hungry and have no money, we will feed you for free.”
Cheesecake slice sculpture in the corporate office lobby.
Eli’s Cheesecake is a family business in every sense. Continuing the legacy of generosity, Eli’s son, Marc Schulman, President of the Eli’s Cheesecake Company, treats the surrounding community with a warm welcome. On the sunny summer day that I was visiting the corporate office, a buzzing farmer’s market was offering the freshest of produce from Nichols Farm & Orchard. Local businesses and education-focused activities were displaying their products. A musician was entertaining the guests. Grills and picnic tables were ready for diners to join in the fun.
Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
Every one is invited and encouraged to support the local community. Take a look at the calendar of activities and partners who join in the festivities. Fresh produce, flowers, gifts, honey and eggs are just a few of the selection available each week.
Eli’s Cheesecake: The Taste of Chicago
In 1980, they debuted at the first Taste of Chicago food festival eventually becoming the most popular dessert at the fest selling more than 2 million slices over the years. Since then, Eli’s Cheesecake is now its own company, having built a home known as Eli’s Cheesecake World in an area just northwest of the city. There you will find the corporate offices, state-of-the-art bakery and a bakery cafe. Visitors are welcome to come dine at the bakery café for lunch and of course, dessert!
This creamy, decadent and so loved dessert is made of just the simplest ingredients including cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a butter shortbread cookie crust. Over the years, Eli’s Cheesecake has expanded their selection to include other varieties of cheesecake as well as tarts, cakes and tiramisu. If you want to try your hand at making one of their cheesecakes at home, then The Eli’s Cheesecake Cookbook is for you. Complete with 40 cheesecake recipes plus signature steakhouse dishes, this book celebrates the 35th anniversary of Eli’s Cheesecakes.
Along with participating in the Taste of Chicago food festival, you will find Eli’s Cheesecake sightings all around the Chicagoland area. At the 2019 National Restaurant Show, they created a 1,000 pound cheesecake complete with sprinkles to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the trade show. When Chicago Gourmet turned 10 in 2018, Eli’s Cheesecake was there to share in the sweet moment with an enormous cheesecake and slices for those in attendance. To see more examples of their big cakes, check out these photos.
Eli’s Cheesecake ships their delicious cakes and desserts far and wide. Grab your coffee as you browse this tasty selection. By the way, did you know today is National Cheesecake Day?! Time to celebrate!
Follow Eli’s Cheesecake on Instagram to see all the happenings, specials and of course, cheesecakes!