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Q&A with Best Chef Paul Virant of Vie
Paul Virant, 35, a St. Louis native, has worked in some great restaurants-Everest, Blackbird, and Ambria, to name a few-and now that he’s ventured out on his own at Vie, in Western Springs, he’s officially become the past year’s brightest new star.
Q. How did you get interested in “cheffing"?
Q. After working at Blackbird, how did you end up in Western Springs?
Q. How would you categorize your food?
Q. For example?
Q. What “foodie” things do you particularly enjoy doing at Vie?
Q. What is best about owning your own restaurant?
Best of the Best
Best Restaurant: Le Lan
Best Chef: Paul Virant
Best Dish: De Cero’s shareable taco platter
wasabi mashed potatoes
Chuck Hamburg, partner in the tie-dyed pizza joint Flourchild’s, on their business plan: “We want to do for pizza what Ben & Jerry’s did for ice cream.”
(185 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire; 847-478-9600).
Most Surprising Closings
Fuse, Saiko, Papagus, and Biggs.
Most Euro Cheese Shop
Pastoral, an “attitude-free zone” packed with salumi, sausage, pâté, and American farmhouse cheeses.
(2945 N. Broadway; 773-472-4781)
Most Versatile Chef
Shawn McClain conquered seafood at Spring and vegetables at Green Zebra. Now he’s going after meat at the Custom House, due to open this summer.
(500 S. Dearborn St.).
Most International Staff
The crew from Lincoln Square’s Essence of India, who hail from Brazil, Morocco, Bulgaria, Nepal, and Mexico.
(4601 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-506-9343)
Spiciest New Burger
The Southwestern Sizzle burger at Sizzle, a half-pound beast with beef and chorizo chopped up together.
(6157 N. Broadway; 773-465-9500)
While you were sleeping, MK North, a contemporary American charmer, became A Milano, a contemporary Italian charmer.
(305 Happ Rd., Northfield; 847-716-6500).
Most Disappointing New NYC Import
China Grill, a glitzy, overpriced spot in the Hard Rock Hotel that has made more of a dribble than a splash.
(230 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-334-6700)
Two high-profile restaurants that are the current box-office buzz around town did not open in time for consideration in this feature: Blue Water Grill (520 N. Dearborn St.; 312-777-1400), the spinoff of a Manhattan celeb magnet in the old Spago space, and Alinea (1723 N. Halsted St.; 312-867-0110), Grant Achatz’s ambitious foray into micromanaged 30-course meals.