Blue 13 exec chef Chris Curren has been a busy guy. Over the weekend, news leaked that he was taking over the menu at River North spot Elate, but we discovered he's actually taking over the entire kitchen. As of last week, Curren became the exec chef at Elate. Interesting enough, he's still the top toque at Blue 13, but promoted one his guys, Paul Taufner, to chef de cuisine so he can focus his time and attention on Elate.
Not much will change in the near future. Curren started working pretty much immediately after Elate owner Anthony Fiore let go chef Randall Jacobs last Thursday. Curren will join sous chef Mike Noll (Jam, Schwa), who Fiore said more or less crafted the current menu. The pair will continue producing the same rustic, seasonally driven food Elate has become known for.
Fiore said the kitchen environment had become strained, and is looking forward to this new change. "Chris will be there full time," Fiore said. "Mike is super talented. We want to get people to smile in the kitchen and create a better work environment. People are really exicted and I think the food will just get better."
While Fiore said Noll will "be one of the greats in Chicago," he doesn't yet have the business experience to run the kitchen the way Curren can and that Curren will help reduce labor and food costs.
Fiore and Current met and bonded over the summer during Lollapalooza and became fast friends. They initially discussed opening a French-inspired restaurant, but decided instead to kick off their professional relationship at Elate.
"I wanted to make sure we could work together and see how he was before investing money into another restaurant," Fiore said. "If this works out what I'd like to do is promote someone else in the kitchen and get Mike or [Curren] another restaurant soon." That, however, won't happen until after Fiore and Jam business partner Jerry Suqi open their Logan Square spot.