The relatively unknown-in-Chicago New York chef Brandon Baltzley has taken over the kitchen at Mado. Hired on Wednesday, Baltzley, who moved from New York in August to work at Alinea, had two days to overhaul the menu and bring in an entirely new staff to open the restaurant tonight at 5 p.m.
The new concept will be a departure from what Rob and Allie Levitt, who unexpectedly quit last week to open a butcher shop, were doing at Mado. Instead of farm-to-table and butchering, Baltzley and his crew instead will draw on inspiration from global flavors—Italy, France, North Africa—and have "a lot of deconstruction going on." Some new dishes include duck pot pie with pumpernickel, caraway and chocolate; scallops with cocoa butter, turnip and breakfast radish; farrotto with butternut squash and Parmesan; wood-grilled salmon with cauliflower panna cotta, smoked roe and fingerling potato; and lamb neck with lamb bacon, sunchoke, truffle, hazelnut and kale.
"I hate saying 'global,'" Baltzley said. "I've been doing this for so long. I pick up things here and there. We're not building dishes off regions. We put together flavors and then take a step back and see where it comes from."
Baltzley left a gig at New York's 6th Street Kitchen to work at Alinea, which "didn't work out." After about a month, he left to work with Michael Carlson at Schwa. Now, he'll have the task of moving into a spot that has received high marks since opening. "I don't feel pressure to fil the Levitt's shoes because their style is totally different," he said. "There's a lot of pressure undertaking a restaurant in general in a city this large. It's stressful, but I'm pretty confident we can pull it off."
UPDATE: We just got an email that Baltzley was actually at Alinea for about a week, not a month.