There was a big change this holiday weekend at Chicago’s Alinea, the city’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant. Mike Bagale has announced his departure from the restaurant after almost six years as executive chef. He broke the news Sunday morning via his Instagram account.
Bagale congratulated Alinea chef de cuisine Simon Davies in that Instagram post, and Alinea’s Nick Kokonas confirmed that Davies, who’s been at Alinea for nine years and started as a 19-year-old intern, is Bagale’s replacement.
After starting at Alinea in 2009, Bagale was named executive chef in 2013. He’s responsible for the restaurant’s famous — and imitated — edible balloon course. Alinea co-founder chef Grant Achatz praised Bagale’s leadership and creativity as reasons for his promotion in a 2013 interview with Eater National.
“Mike is awesome and leaves on the best possible terms with the Alinea Group,” Kokonas wrote via email on Sunday. “...Quite simply, he’s crushed it on behalf of our team and is a world-class chef in every respect.”
Bagale was Achatz’s right-hand man at Alinea. He thanked his chef in his post, writing that Achatz “taught me ‘the push’ which can best be defined as ‘the act of giving everything you have to the pursuit of a common goal.’ That is the lesson that I will carry with me forever.”
Davies congratulated Bagale in his own Instagram post in which commenters offered their own congrats to Davies on this own job. Davies’ contributions to the molecular gastronomy pioneer include a clear pumpkin pie that drew heavy media coverage during last Thanksgiving.
Will Bagale ever open his own restaurant? It’’s unclear. Bagale’s Instagram post indicated that after 20 years of overall service that the chef planned to travel to rediscover himself. For the short term, he’s traveling to India for a pop-up at Masque, a restaurant in Mumbai. He’s working with Masque executive chef Prateek Sadhu — who also worked at Alinea — for dinners on June 30 and July 1. The food’s supposed to be based on seasonal Indian ingredients with a medicinal and Ayurvedic slant. Organizers don’t have more details, but they ask interested parties to email the restaurant for details. He’ll have more info on his Instagram on future pop-ups
Read Bagale’s full post detailing his departure below:
Today marks the end of a remarkable journey, as I bid farewell to Alinea, and my mentor, @grant_achatz Chef, you have taught me that through hard work and discipline, you can shape not only the character of an experience, but the character of the individual creating that experience as well. And that is the skill I now realize that I was always looking for. You taught me “the push” which can best be defined as “the act of giving everything you have to the pursuit of a common goal.” That is the lesson that I will carry with me forever. You are best. Thank you, My chef, My friend. Also, huge congrats to my best friend and supremely talented chef @simon.a.davies who was with me every step of the way. Love you brother. For anyone wondering what my next step is... TBD. First, After 20 years of service, I’m going travel and re-discover myself. And continue the search for all things beautiful!