On Wednesday afternoon, news broke that Curtis Duffy would step down as chef de cuisine at Avenues in the Peninsula Hotel to start working on his own restaurant. Duffy, who helped the restaurant earn two Michelin stars and was a James Beard nominee this year for best chef in the Great Lakes region, will leave the post he has held since 2008 sometime in late September to begin building out the West Loop restaurant he hopes will give him that third Michelin star.
"We want to be the best restaurant in the country and be known as one of the best in the world," he said. "We want to push for three stars." Definitely big goals considering some of the company his new place will keep in the West Loop: Grant Achatz's Next, Stephanie Izard's Girl & The Goat and Paul Kahan's Blackbird, avec and The Publican. So how will Duffy stand apart? By pushing the envelope.
"We're going to take every aspect of the restaurant and figure out a way to refine everything from the way you walk in the door to the way you walk into your car at the end of the experience," he said.
Duffy, who is the subject of a documentary currently being created by Chicago Tribune writer Kevin Pang, will create food in a similar vein that put him on the map at Avenues. Instead of focusing on one cuisine or region, he said his food will have an international feel. Just don't call it fusion. "My style already pulls form a global influence with Asian minimalism," he said. "I love the Thai flavor profile and that's always present in my cuisine. We'll continue that."
And it looks like Duffy isn't the only one making changes; he told Eater that Avenues will close in January to undergo a renovation and will likely emerge as a new restaurant that will be driven more by the concept than a name-recognized chef. "It's easier to run a concept restaurant there if it's not owned by a chef," he said. Also, according to 312 Dining Diva, Duffy has plans to take the entire kitchen staff with him when he leaves, and also said he hopes to import a top pastry chef from Asia, but that he couldn't reveal who at this point.
While it'll still be a few months until Duffy is ready to reveal the name and full concept of the restaurant, he's excited to get rolling, but won't do anything until he's left Avenues. "I get one shot at building a great restaurant and it's unfair to split myself between two places," he said. "I'd hate to disrespect anything we've done at Avenues or the hotel. It's easier for me to leave and give 100 percent to my project."
· Curtis Duffy Leaving Avenues [~EChi~]
· Curtis Duffy to Leave Avenus for New Venture [312DD]
Curtis Duffy [Photo: StarChefs]