If 2013's food scene in Chicago will be remembered for one thing it will probably be that Curtis Duffy dominated it with the opening of Grace. Duffy, whose resume in Chicago is all high-water mark, including Charlie Trotter's, Trio, Alinea, and Avenues (which was awarded two Michelin stars under his leadership) has worked very hard to get where he is. To say that his hard work has paid off is putting it mildly.
Earlier this month, Duffy, his staff, and Grace have been bestowed a great number of awards and nominations. First came the announcement that Grace received two Michelin stars for its first year in business.
Then Tuesday brought more good news, as Grace received six Jean Banchet nominations (Chef of the Year – Curtis Duffy, Chef de Cuisine - Nicholas Romero, Rising Pastry Chef of the Year - Bobby Schaffer, Best Sommelier - Valerie Cao, Best Restaurant Service, Restaurant of the Year).
Before the awards, the critics beat the drums and fanned the flames that led Duffy and his restaurant to this point.
Time Out Chicago's David Tamarkin gave Grace 4 stars (out of a possible 5), saying, "If there's anything more distasteful to this restaurant critic than spending that kind of cash on dinner, it's spending it on a dinner that isn't worth it. So hear this, moneybags: Spend that dough at Grace." Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune was also full of praise, giving Grace 4 stars (out of a possible 4), stating, "So good that any foodie who fails to dine here will find his Chicago-dining-scene pontificating hopelessly compromised."
Chicago Magazine named Grace the best new restaurant of 2013 gushing, "…it's exhilarating to see a talented chef like Duffy at the height of his powers with ample resources and support behind him, if only because it happens so rarely. Savor it: No other new restaurant in Chicago comes close." Early in 2013 there was also this incredible, interactive feature by the Chicago Tribune's Kevin Pang that detailed Duffy's entire life, including some extremely personal recollections and struggles that molded and drove him to be the man and chef he is today.