Ten months after joining Charlie McKenna’s (Lillie’s Q, Dixie) new restaurant group, executive chef Tony Quartaro is leaving. Quartaro, the former chef at Formento’s on Randolph Restaurant Row, is leaving the restaurant world for a unique position. He’s accepted a newly-created position as culinary director at EatPakd, a Chicago startup that formed last year.
EatPakd delivers bagged lunches to homes so busy parents don’t have to pack lunches for their children to take to school. They bill the meals as chef prepared and healthy. The company launched in August in Chicago and now they deliver across Illinois, as well as metro Detroit, Minneapolis, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio. The company estimated they’ve delivered 10,000 lunches, according to an EatPakd rep. They employ 12. Quartaro will oversee recipes and train culinary staff. The company hopes to expand throughout the Midwest and add a second distribution center.
The company rep said it was a long search to fill the job. It’s a big splash for EatPakd, as Quartaro generates some cred for the young company.
Quartaro joined McKenna as McKenna prepared to open Dixie, his Bucktown restaurant that would give Chicago new insight into southern cooking. McKenna hoped Quartaro would help him expand his Southern Revival Hospitality Group. McKenna couldn’t be immediately reached, as he was tied up in meetings.
This story will be updated if McKenna or Quartaro have anything further to add.
UPDATE: Quartaro answered some questions via email about his move. He wrote that he’s grateful for his opportunity with McKenna and at other restaurants. However, the industry has changed. There’s more jobs outside of the restaurant world and he’s excited in “making a difference in how children experience their food.”
Quartaro, who has a son, added he was drawn to EakPakd’s mission: “The goal is to produce healthy, delicious food, with an emphasis on vegetables and finding ways to cut on sugar and carbohydrates, using alternative natural flours and natural sweeteners (using pureed dates or raisins instead of sugar, for example).”