All Chicago restaurants awarded a star in 2013 managed to retain it for a second year running or – in the case of Trump Hotel’s Sixteen – to gain an additional one.
Meanwhile Grace, a brand new restaurant in the West Loop, has skyrocketed straight to two stars after just one year in business.
Its Executive Chef is the talented Curtis Duffy, who previously worked as Chef de Cuisine at three star Alinea and at the former Avenues at Peninsula Chicago before embarking on his new project.
Michael Ellis, Michelin Guide’s International Director, told Elite: “If you look at Curtis Duffy, he worked with Grant Achatz at Alinea, he worked with Charlie Trotter for years, he worked for a long time with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry.
“He’s created a beautiful restaurant, he’s got great technical skills, he’s got fabulous ingredients and he’s really doing some amazing things there.”
There are five new one star additions to the guide, including El Ideas in downtown Chicago, a uniquely relaxed fine dining restaurant where interaction with chefs and fellow diners is encouraged.
Ellis said of the restaurant: “It’s almost like performance theatre where you eat. There’s very little separation between the kitchen and the tables. I think it’s a great concept. Chicago likes to have fun, people like to go out and enjoy themselves so they’re very receptive to these new ideas.”
Elsewhere, Lincoln Square’s unconventional Elizabeth also receives its first star. The restaurant has an ecologically sound farm-to-table concept with tickets sold rather than a traditional reservations policy.
Head Chef Iliana Regan is another Alinea graduate, serving up a 20 course meal which combines her boundlessly imaginative approach with traditional Midwestern foods.
The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel, former ice-skating warming house North Pond and Lakeview’s Senza, which has a gluten-free menu, also receive their first Michelin star in the 2014 guide.
In total, 25 Chicago restaurants now have at least one Michelin star, compared with 19 in 2013. Alinea – Chicago’s only three star restaurant – maintains its top rating, first achieved in 2010.
Speaking about the future of the city’s dining scene, Ellis said: “I think that Chicago has a great alchemy of an audience of people who want to go out there, who want to have fun…
“They’ve also got the spending power here. So the chefs are here, the techniques are here, the accessibility of great products is here. Everything is in the mix for Chicago to evolve.”
The Michelin Guide Chicago 2014 is available to buy from Wednesday, November 13.