Last week was an odd one: Not one post announcing big news from Lettuce Entertain You. The drought is over.
Intro (2300 N. Lincoln Park West, Lincoln Park), the year-old concept launched as a showcase for young kitchen whizzes, has quickly and quietly undergone a conceptual shakeup: While the restaurant will still give up-and-coming chefs three-month stints, as of February 8 there will also be a permanent executive chef. Gone is the single prix fixe menu. In its place will be not one, but two menus—one from the executive chef with contributions from the visiting chef, and one from just the visiting chef—and diners can pick either one when they sit down at their table.
So who is this person leading the Intro revolution? That would be Stephen Gillanders, the restaurant’s most recent chef. “Stephen loved the idea [of there being an executive chef], and I love Stephen,” says Melman. “He wanted to go back to California, but I liked his personality, his flexibility, and his talent. So I made him an offer,” Melman concludes.
Gillanders, who had planned to open a restaurant, put his California dreams on hold and worked with the Intro team to revamp the permanent menu, making it more conducive to collaborating with visiting chefs. The well-traveled chef’s creations span both high-end and playful, and often sport Asian influences.
When visiting chef Jessica Largey (another California-based young gun) begins her run on February 8, she’ll introduce dishes such as allium veloute with pear, endive, and a farm egg. “I will work with her on the menu, but she doesn’t have to listen to me,” says Melman.
Side note to Largey: Listen to Papa Melman and get on his good side! Not only did Gillanders receive this giant promotion, but the Lettuce camp just announced plans for a new River North restaurant with CJ Jacobson (Intro’s first chef) at the helm.