The Dish List

The roster of notable Chicago chefs runs deep—here are 16 more and a don’t-miss signature creation of each

The roster of notable Chicago chefs runs deep-here are 16 more and a don’t-miss signature creation of each
photography by Grant Kessler

>> 1.One Sixtyblue, 2.Lula Cafe, 3.Kevin, 4.MK, 5.Tallgrass, 6.Crofton

Robert Burcenski
Tallgrass
1006 S. State St., Lockport; 815-838-5566
For 25 years, the guy’s been in the far south suburbs, honing intricate dishes like a sautéed Asian duck breast with wild mushroom crêpe and sweet-and-sour sauce.

Maneet Chauhan
Vermilion
10 W. Hubbard St.; 312-527-4060
Latino-Indian mix sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Chauhan not only makes it work-check out the tandoori skirt steak-she makes it seem natural.

Suzy Crofton
Crofton on Wells
535 N. Wells St.; 312-755-1790
For more than a decade now, the veteran Banchet-trained chef has invented delights like pan-seared scallops in red curry–mussel reduction with ramp oil and maitake mushrooms.

Susan Goss
West Town Tavern
1329 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-666-6175
Grilled pork on rosemary-braised leeks with corn hush puppies and peach chutney: Goss has dialed things back from her Zinfandel days, and things are clicking.

Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds
Lula Café
2537 N. Kedzie Blvd.; 773-489-9554
With showstoppers such as grilled Gunthorp Farm heritage pork atop shredded shiso-juniper cabbage in sweet plum jus, chefs Hammel and Tshilds have crafted the coolest neighborhood restaurant in Chicago.

Michael Kornick
MK
868 N. Franklin St., 312-482-9179; Nine, 440 W. Randolph St., 312-575-9900
This savvy homegrown talent has perfected solid, sophisticated American dishes like MK’s pan-roasted Icelandic arctic char with cardamom-scented carrot purée and beluga lentils.

Michael Lachowicz
Michael
64 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka; 847-441-3100
The Le Français veteran is a big, expressive guy and his country French flavors-such as a yin/yang duo of chilled soups (tomato and fennel) divided by a warm crab cake-are even bigger and more expressive.

Riccardo Michi
Riccardo Trattoria
2119 N. Clark St.; 773-549-0038
Riccardo is an overnight success. Could be because Michi’s food tastes truly Tuscan and if you want something not on the menu-say, viareggina fish stew-he’ll make it.

Martial Noguier
One Sixtyblue
1400 W. Randolph St.; 312-850-0303
This Parisian native does everything well, making magic out of free-range chicken-he takes a glazed thigh and roasted breast, stuffs them with mushroom duxelles in lobster emulsion, and adds a skewer of crayfish tempura.

Jackie Shen
Red Light
820 W. Randolph St.; 312-733-8880
The First Lady of Fusion has a great fit at Red Light, where she does dishes such as a Shanghai-style catfish-deep-fried, filleted at the table, and served with Hangzhou red vinegar.

Kevin Shikami
Kevin
9 W. Hubbard St.; 312-595-0055
The buzz may have passed, but Shikami’s unheralded kitchen is still alive and taking chances-even offbeat variations on a tuna tartare become small treasures here.

Sarah Stegner
Prairie Grass Café
601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook; 847-205-4433
Stegner successfully made the leap from the Ritz-Carlton to presenting all-American spicy chicken wings with homemade ranch dressing and shrimp cakes full of jumbos with tomato chutney.

Michael Taus
Zealous
419 W. Superior St.; 312-475-9112
Taus has hit a groove at his River North stunner, consistently conjuring up amazing flavor combinations like a roasted salmon roulade with pear-kohlrabi tart and apple cider nage.

Gabe Viti
Gabriel’s 310 Green Bay Rd., Highwood, 847-433-0031; Miramar Bistro, 301 Waukegan Ave., Highwood, 847-433-1078; Pancho Viti’s, 431 Temple Ave., Highland Park, 847-433-5550
The thinner Viti spreads himself, the thicker his file of plaudits gets-and his risotto with smoked chicken, spinach, and roasted red pepper always delivers at Gabriel’s.

Carol Wallack
Sola
3868 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-327-3868
Surfer girl and former chef to the stars hits a peak with clean Pacific Rim flavors at her golden neighborhood spot. Witness the hoisin- and lemongrass-flavored braised short ribs.

Under the Radar
Six chefs whose names you might not recognize-but you love their food

Christophe David NoMI
Park Hyatt Chicago, 800 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-239-4030
As contemporary as his unbeatable location, David beefs up Maine lobster and chanterelles by adding bone marrow to a classic French sauce américaine.

Christian Eckmann Ambria
2300 N. Lincoln Park West; 773-472-5959
Under the tutelage of the great Gabino Sotelino, Eckmann’s Spanish-tinged spins such as loin of lamb with almond mojo and a braised lamb shank–filled chickpea crêpe are a shot in the arm of Lettuce’s most sedate holding.

Michael Maddox Le Titi de Paris
1015 W. Dundee Rd., Arlington Heights; 847-506-0222
Maddox, a Kendall College grad, has been in Le Titi’s hallowed kitchen since 1993, and if his tender, slow-braised Colorado lamb shank with mustard spätzle is any indication, he’s done his school proud.

Chris Nugent Les Nomades
222 E. Ontario St.; 312-649-9010
Nugent, who reportedly mastered every kitchen station by the age of 14, flexes his chops in a hallowed French setting with sautéed daurade on coriander red wine sauce and ramp mousseline.

Missy Robbins Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia
980 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-280-2750
Tony Mantuano makes no bones about it: Missy Robbins is the exec chef of his Italian gems and she gets as much credit for the Tuscan bean soup, the gnocchi, and spaghetti al faro con vongole as he does.

Ramiro Velasquez Carlos’
429 Temple Ave., Highland Park; 847-432-0770
Carlos and Debbie Nieto have long been the faces of this gem, but Velasquez’s marvels, such as pine nut–crusted turbot with edamame-wasabi purée and sea urchin cream emulsion, make the ship run.

Share

Advertisement