When Lettuce Entertain You announced the closing of L20 in October, one of the few details that founder Rich Melman shared was that it would have an "educational element." It turns out that that educational element centers around rotating up-and-coming chefs, mostly from out of town, at the new rotating concept that Melman dubs a "school for entrepreneurs."
Intro, which Melman tells the Tribune is named for "introducing Chicago to new talent...to restaurateuring through my eyes...introducing the staff to people they may want to work with," is an ambitious new multi-prong concept that will introduce Chicago food enthusiasts to new chefs, be a mentorship program, and may be a preview of sorts of future restaurants.
Visiting chefs will work two-to-three month stints at Intro, where they will "have full creative license" to implement the food concept as well as ambiance, service style, and more. Each chef will be a full partner during their tenure, Crain's reports, but have the support and backing from Melman, L20 chef/partner Matthew Kirkley, and Lettuce Entertain You as a whole.
Los Angeles chef and "Top Chef" alum C.J. Jacobson will be the first "chef-in-residence" at Intro, taking over the space in February. Stay tuned for more information on what Jacobson will do there.
The L20 space will be redesigned following its closure on New Year's Eve to add two lounges and design flexibility for the incoming chefs. As previously reported, Intro will sell tickets using Nick Kokonas' system Tock via a new website (introchicago.com) that will go live later this month. Price points will vary based on each chef's concept but stay within the $65-95 range before tax, tip and optional pairings.
Following the rotating concepts at Next, some predicted that a next trend for restaurants would be to rotate chefs as well. Rich Melman, who was at the forefront of other restaurant innovations, will be the first to do that in Chicago in February.