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Chef Dean Zanella Talks About Leaving Rhapsody

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It was announced Wednesday that Rhapsody, the upscale restaurant adjacent to Symphony Center, closed following service Tuesday night. Earlier this year, it was reported that the restaurant would close once it received permits and morph into a new concept, but that its chef of nearly two years, Dean Zanella, would remain on board.

Now that Rhapsody has closed and will open as Tesori, a new Italian concept, this September, Zanella surprisingly is out. Zanella, who learned around June 15 that he wouldn't be attached to the new project, stayed on board until July 3 to get the restaurant through the end of symphony season. "I cared about the people I worked with," Zanella said. "I knew it would put the cooks and servers in a bind. I didn't want to do that."

Zanella said he was shocked when he heard the news he wasn't going to move forward with Blue Plate Catering, the company that owns Rhapsody. He said the decision came out of the blue, but it was what owner Jim Horan wanted. Zanella said he knew the new restaurant would have an Italian slant so when he was on his honeymoon in Italy in April, he visited a number of smaller, urban spots, even the new gastropubs sprouting up over there, in order to do research.

"I didn't see it coming, especially since the last tasting I did [Horan] said I hit all home runs," Zanella said. "Everyone seemed really happy, including my director of operations."

So while Blue Plate is currently looking for a new chef and likely will begin construction later this week to build out Tesori, which could very well see the addition of pizzas, Zanella is looking for a new gig. "I wasn't working on anything or talking to anybody," he said, but added he's already had a few inquiries. The question here is why, if you already have a chef trained in Italian cuisine, who just visited Italy and did research, would you replace him with someone you don't know yet?
· Renovation Report: Rhapsody [~EChi~]

Dean Zanella [Photo: Vrai Photography]

Rhapsody/Tesori

65 E. Adams St., Chicago, IL

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