Chatting with the Chef: Charlie McKenna


When he opened Lillie’s Q in 2010, Chef Charlie McKenna brought award-winning competition BBQ and timeless Southern cooking to the city of big shoulders. McKenna and Lillie’s Q have garnered critical praise and awards from both local Chicago and national media – including being named “Best New BBQ Restaurant in the Country” by Food & Wine magazine in 2011. In keeping with his enduring vision to bring cultural and Southern food to the Midwest, McKenna formedSouthern Revival Hospitality restaurant group and opened upscale Southern concept, Dixie and accompanying liquorette 1952 ½ in July 2016.Florida State University alum, McKenna graduated from New York’s Culinary Institute of America in 2000, and cooked under legendary chef Norman Van Aken in Florida, before becoming a sous chef at two of Chicago’s four-star fine-dining landmarks: Tru and Avenues in the Peninsula Hotel. After gaining recognition for the award-winning sauces he was serving in the restaurant, McKenna began bottling them and now Lillie’s Q Sauces & Rubs is a nationally and internationally recognized brand with distribution in over 2,500 stores across the country and in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to the classics (Smoky, Hot Smoky, Carolina, E.N.C., Ivory, Carolina Gold, Hot Mess and Hot Pepper Vinegar), every few months McKenna creates a limited edition bourbon-barrel aged sauce that takes BBQ to a whole new level. Meet Chef McKenna at his cooking demonstration utilizing fresh ingredients from the market on Saturday, October 8, at 10:30am. 
What is your favorite Green City Market product?
Seedling Okra grown for us.
What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago (other than shop at Green City Market, of course)?
Enjoy the great food and beverage scene.
What is in your fridge right now?
Don’t have very much, mostly at work, but honey crisp apples, Almond milk, Bari Tomato Sauce, Family salsa.
What is one tip you have for home cooks shopping at Green City Market? 
Talk to the farmers or there representatives.  They have the most knowledge on the products and can help you pick up what you need and tell you about things they have coming in the future.  Great place to learn about what your eating and menu planning.
What is the one food your couldn't live without?

Return to blog »

Know your food, know your farmer
Business office

2613 W. Lawrence Avenue

Chicago, IL 60625

(773) 880-1266

Contact us »

Follow us on Instagram


Proud member of the Farmers Market Coalition