Esquire released its annual Best New Restaurants issue today. While no Chicago restaurants made the cut (for the second year in a row, which seems like a big diss considering what has opened here in the last year), a Chicago chef did get some major props.
The magazine named NoMI Kitchen chef Ryan LaRoche one of five chefs to watch. LaRoche was surprised but happy when he got the call this morning. "I just got off the phone with my mom telling her," LaRoche said. "It's a pretty big thing and I'm humbled by it. I'm very happy. It's funny getting these things. You try and do the best job you can with the food and the staff and you get recognized for things like this. It's a surprising feeling and a great feeling."
LaRoche recognizes that he couldn't have be named a chef to watch without his staff and says it was a group effort. "I go back to my staff and congratulate everyone; this is not an individual effort," he said. "That's how I view these things. The awards are great but it's great for everyone. We keep building off successful bits and pieces and see how we can keep moving it forward."
LaRoche took over the kitchen after chef Christophe David left in 2010 to move to Switzerland and saw the restaurant through a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2011. He, along with chef de cuisine Sean Pharr, have consistently gotten positive reviews and most recently got a three-star review from the Tribune.
"[The Esquire announcement] certainly points out that we're headed in the right direction," LaRoche said. "When we reconcepted the restaurant there were a lot of questions if we were doing the right thing and if the concept would be relevant. It's great recognition of the efforts of all of us."
· Esquire Announces 2012 Best New Restaurants List [~E~]
· NoMI is As Good As Ever [~EChi~]
· NoMI Closing for Makeover [~EChi~]
Ryan LaRoche [Photo: Andy Barnes/Hyatt]