After some bouncing around following a very quick stint running the kitchen at Mado, Brandon Baltzley will hopefully now get to settle in at his next gig: executive chef at the forthcoming Tribute at Chicago's Essex Inn.
Baltzley, who came to Chicago from New York's 6th Street Kitchen and has spent time at Alinea and Schwa before Mado, as well as hosting some pop-up dinners, will add his touches to the restaurant's planned contemporary American menu focusing on local and sustainable ingredients.
During his tryout for Tribute general manager and partner Simon Lamb and the rest of The Chow Crowd Restaurant Group, Baltzley riffed on traditional American dishes and selected ingredients from different states, including a Minnesota beet and ginger soda and a "New York brunch," featuring baked eggs and a banana/Cholula French toast made from challah.
"The best thing about this concept is that American food takes from everyone else, but it's still American," Baltzley said. "It's going to be quality and not too far over people's heads. We may do some quirky things as amuses."
Tribute, which aims to open May 1 in the Green Seal-certified Chicago's Essex Inn in the South Loop, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The main dining room will seat 100 people, while the bar/lounge and private dining will add nearly another 100 seats. Tribute will also have a sidewalk patio on Michigan Avenue facing Grant Park. The room itself commands 6,800 square feet with 16 foot ceilings and will be decorated with warm tones and natural woods by designer Steve Dandrea and architect Randy Houts.
As for wanting to settle in, Baltzley said he hopes he's here to stay a while. "I'm starting to embrace Chicago and these owners are awesome," he said. "They're top notch dudes and I feel confident in this endeavor."
· Brandon Baltzley and Team Leaving Mado Over Money Issues [~EChi~]
· Baltzley's Mexican Pop-Up [~EChi~]