Daniel Rose has come a long way since graduating from New Trier High School in 1995 in Chicago’s North Shore. The suburban Chicago native would leave for France shortly after graduation en route to falling for Parisian culinary culture and opening a series of critically acclaimed restaurants. His first U.S. restaurant debuted in 2016 in New York, and Le Coucou earned a Michelin star in 2019.
Rose wants to make it clear that he’s not leaving New York and that he’ll continue to support Le Coucou and his two restaurants in France. But he will spend more time traveling back and forth to Chicago, as the time was right for Rose to open a restaurant in the Midwest. Le Select is a collaboration with Boka Restaurant Group, the same company that works with celebrity chef Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat of Top Chef fame. Rose says each of his restaurants are tailored to their cities and they offer him different ways “to express all this Frenchness.”
“French cooking is not the best cooking in the world, but it’s the one I know the best,” Rose says. “And there are many different traditions to express that.”
For Le Select, he’s inspired by Chicago’s history of commerce and architecture. He imagines a bustling brasserie among the city’s skyscrapers. It’s “somewhat straightforward” cooking, carefully prepared, and approachable: “That’s as much part of the French tradition as three Michelin stars and 40 covers and 60 cooks,” Rose says.
That thinking led Rose and Boka to the name: Many restaurants in France call themselves “Le Select,” and that every-person quality was appealing. At the same time, the name also lends a bit of exclusivity. That was the restaurant’s working name as the project progressed and it just stuck with Rose and Boka confers Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm.
Rose is in the early stages of building out a team. While he won’t be working the kitchen line, he says he will remain in Chicago for “as long as it takes” to ensure Le Select is clicking on all cylinders after it opens in summer 2022. He’s confident that he’ll be able to quickly teach his Chicago staff and that Boka will find the right people, even as restaurants struggle with staffing: “Boka survived the pandemic in a way that was very admirable,” Rose says. “And that sets them up for a very strong future, I think. And I’m glad to be a part of that.”
There’s also confidence for Rose in finding cooks who will want to make French food with a willingness to learn. Rose emphasizes with young cooks saying he was in their positions 20 years ago when he was traveling to France and learning about the culture.
“You have to be able to offer people more than just a paycheck,” Rose says. “But that was always the case, too. But now, it’s even more important.”
Though the Chicago area is home and he returns to visit family, Rose left as a teenager. He’s excited to rediscover the city as an adult, but also doesn’t want to paint himself as an outsider returning home as some sort of culinary savior.
“You can’t show up in Chicago claiming to imbue something new and different,” Rose says. “Because Chicago has seen it all, too. And they know what they like.”
Le Select, 504 N. Wells Street, planned for summer opening.