Your accent is East Coast. But where exactly?

Queens. My grandfather landed at Ellis Island in the 1920s. He was headed for East New York, which was very Jewish at that time. Even though he was Greek, an “itz” was slapped onto his last name so he would fit in. But I grew up in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

So why a love affair with French food?

In my first sauce class at the Culinary Institute of America, I realized that everything comes from the Escoffier cookbook and old German and French cooks. That’s when the seed was planted.

You’ve been kicking around restaurants in Chicago since 1998, often being chef-partner.

Chef-partner doesn’t mean a goddamn thing. Just a bone that someone throws you to keep you around and to kinda control you. You have to have skin in the game.

At the Blanchard, you have skin in the game. You personally raised the seed money. Has that changed you?

You have followed my career here. Have I matured at all?

You tell me.

I was a late bloomer. Now everyone calls me an overnight success. It only took 25 years to get there. I like that [image]. I’m going to stick with that.