Chicago is mourning the loss of Jean-Claude Poilevey, a pioneer who brought French home-style cooking to the city more than four decades ago. La Sardine will host a memorial service later this week for Poilevey after an early Saturday morning automobile crash on the Eisenhower Expressway killed the beloved chef. The 71-year-old Poilevey was driving home to Oak Park after working at his other restaurant, Le Bouchon in Bucktown, the Tribune reported.
Both restaurants closed on Saturday as customers and staff mourned. Grievers dropped by Le Bouchon over the weekend with notes, candles and flowers. Poilevey opened his first Chicago restaurant, La Fontaine, in 1973 on Clark Street north of Fullerton Parkway in Lincoln Park. He later opened Le Bouchon in 1993 and followed with La Sardine in 1998 in the West Loop. He arrived in the Midwest in the late 1960s and worked at The Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wis., working with a staff — that the Trib noted— included Chicago great Jean Banchet.
Poilevey died after paramedics transported him from the crash scene to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Authorities said the crash happened around 12:40 a.m. on Saturday near Central Avenue on Interstate 290. Poilevey's 2007 Audi was part of a 15-car wreck that left three others with non-life-threatening injuries. State troopers blamed icy roads for the incident.
Chicago chefs including Takashi Yagihashi (Slurping Turtle) and Carrie Nahabedian (Naha) expressed condolences. Poilevey left his mark on Chicago's French community, as he was active in a variety of cultural organizations. President Obama even dined at La Bouchon, which grew in popularity after a 2001 episode of "Check, Please!" featured Obama talking about dinners with his wife at the French bistro. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office also shared condolences on Sunday night.
Our city mourns the passing of Chicago chef Jean-Claude Poilevey. pic.twitter.com/QNWRWZQkRB— ChicagosMayor (@ChicagosMayor) April 11, 2016
Poilevey focused on Le Bouchon as his wife, Susanne Poilevey, concentrated on La Sardine. Thursday's memorial service is open to the public, starting at noon until 8 p.m. at La Sardine, according to the Trib.