Over the last year, Chicago's seen plenty of chef shuffles, and with 2014 winding down, let's look back over the most memorable.
When Mike Sheerin and Sarah Jordan left Cicchetti in late September no one assumed that the restaurant would close scant weeks later. Cicchetti and its chefs had received a bounty of accolades since opening in December 2013. In the end, it came down to "profitability" as owner Dan Rosenthal pulled the plug on the secluded Streeterville spot. Meanwhile, Sheerin and Jordan have teamed up for a NYE pop-up at Locallective. Phil Rubino, who took over the kitchen in Sheerin's wake until Cicchetti closed, is rumored to be working on his own project.
After announcing his exit from Lettuce Entertain You in December, mixologist Paul McGee wasted no time in finding his next gig. McGee, who created the immensely popular tiki joint Three Dots and a Dash, will be focusing on upcoming projects for Longman & Eagle parent Land and Sea Dept.
Making waves earlier this year, James Beard award winner Mindy Segal announced in May that she would step down as the pastry chef at her restaurant Mindy's Hot Chocolate. Kymberli DeLost was hired in part so Segal could concentrate on a cookie cookbook and a planned bakery in Logan Square. Segal ended up nixing the bakery idea in July, folding it into Hot Chocolate, before pushing it out altogether in November. In December, Segal revealed she brought on Amanda Barnes as the executive chef on the savory side.
Since leaving The Aviary after Halloween, Charles Joly has been doing a lot of traveling (Maui, Antigua, Florida) and even put in an appearance on The Rachael Ray Show. There's no word on when he'll circle back around to a brick-and-mortar spot but it has to happen, right?
Jason Vincent left Nightwood back in April to take some time out for his family but has done a couple of events (one with Sunday Dinner Club, another with Boka's Lee Wolen) in the interim. No word on what his next move will be yet.
Two-time James Beard rising star chef finalist David Posey left behind his chef de cuisine role at Blackbird in early August to begin work on his own project. Avec's Perry Hendrix began pulling double duty at both restaurants after Posey left.
In a surprising move, Mark Steuer left both Carriage House and The Bedford this past July and resurfaced working the line at La Sirena Clandestina months later. Now, he and La Sirena chef/owner John Manion are working on a few upcoming projects together.
Moving from the James Hotel to the forthcoming Virgin Hotel Chicago, Rick Gresh left David Burke's Primehouse after seven years as executive chef back in May. Expecting to open in January, Gresh will over see four different restaurants (including an Italian espresso/wine bar, a diner and a Japanese izakaya) at the Virgin property.
Brian Huston left The Publican (where he was the opening chef in 2008) earlier this year to concentrate on his Evanston restaurant Boltwood. Huston's executive sous chef, Cosmo Goss, who had also been the head butcher at Publican Quality Meats, was promoted up in his place.
After the closing of both his namesake restaurant on NYE as well as one in Connecticut, Graham Elliot was down to one: Graham Elliot Bistro. But some staff problems dogged Elliot throughout 2014 as three different people have assumed the role of executive chef at the establishment this year. First, Jacob Saben left in March and was replaced by Vinny Alterio, who then left at the end of September. Alterio's replacement, Nick Bajal, exited bitterly in November, with Elliot himself taking over the lead role until the new year when Bajal's sous chef, David Fingerman will head the kitchen. Additionally, Merlin Verrier, who had been with Elliot for years, also left to pursue other projects in 2014.