Chef Aaron Lirette doesn’t know if he’ll turn Michigan Avenue to Michelin Avenue when he starts cooking for diners inside the St. Jane Chicago Hotel, the property formerly known as the Hard Rock Hotel. Lirette created the menus for GreenRiver, the shuttered cocktail bar and restaurant from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Michelin had awarded the restaurant a star the last two years.
Lirette accepted the job as executive chef for the St. Jane’s new restaurant, which replaces Chuck’s: A Kerry Simon Kitchen. A hotel spokesperson said they’re aiming for a summer opening at 230 N. Michigan Avenue inside the Carbide & Carbon Building. Lirette and the spokesperson remain tightlipped about most details. Lirette did consent that they’ll be a bit more relaxed compared to GreenRiver, but still technique driven. Lirette, a Chicago native who’s also worked at Duchamp, Celeste, and Acadia, hopes to continue to leverage his relationships with local farmers and other vendors: “We’ll be more casual, fun, and approachable,” Lirette said.
The hotel’s parent company, Aparium, also owns the Foundation Hotel in Detroit. That’s where chef Thomas Lents relocated to after leaving Michelin-starred Sixteen at the Trump Tower. Lirette praised Aparium’s company culture and said he’ll have creative freedom at St. Jane, which is named for Jane Addams.
Since GreenRiver’s shutter, Lirette has traveled to Belize — where he ate a lot of delicious ceviche — and has hung out with his 2 1/2-year-old son. The Ukrainian Village resident has been preparing for the next step in his career.
“I think hotels are very interesting — I look at this as a challenge and learning experience,” he said. “I haven’t done this before, at least this large of a scale.”