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Rick Bayless Loses Bar Sotano’s Chef

Plus, Venteux and Whitney McMorris part ways

Two people smiling and standing.
Rishi Kumar (left) poses with Rick Bayless at Bar Sotano.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Rishi Kumar, the chef that Rick Bayless entrusted as the face of his River North bar, Bar Sotano, is moving to Miami.

50eggs Hospitality Group, which in October brought its Yardbird chain to Chicago, hired Kumar as its culinary director for research and development. Kumar says 50eggs was impressed with his work at Bar Sotano and wanted him to help develop Latin restaurants in markets like Miami, Las Vegas, and Aspen, Colorado. He’ll potentially have the chance to travel abroad, including visiting his native Singapore. Kumar started with Bayless’s group as an intern, working the line at Topolobampo. He remained in America and took over private events before landing as the top chef at Bar Sotano where he and Bayless developed the menu.

Beyond his passion for Mexican cuisine, Kumar began collaborating with other chefs and bringing in different talents to pop up at Bar Sotano. He says he’s grateful for the opportunities and looks forward to starting the next chapter in his career.

A smiling chef leaning on a counter.
Former Venteux chef Whitney McMorris.
Venteux/Neil John Burger Photography

Meanwhile, Whitney McMorris is on the move, again. McMorris is out at Venteux, the French restaurant inside the Pendry Hotel off the Mag Mile. This is according to New City, which ran a profile on the chef that was published on Wednesday, November 16. They were quickly notified by a spokesperson that the two parties had parted. McMorris never implemented her planned menu — she wanted to serve food with global influences taken from countries the French had colonized.

A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, McMorris started at Venteux over the summer, three months after Bronzeville Winery opened in April. It was there that she began making headlines. She was the opening chef at the upscale restaurant hoping to give the neighborhood an elite dining option. McMorris and the restaurant’s owners haven’t shared why they separated. This was McMorris’ first job leading a kitchen. Leadership opportunities are rare within the restaurant industry for Black women.


230 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60601 (312) 777-9003 Visit Website

Bar Sotano

445 North Clark Street, , IL 60610 (312) 391-5857 Visit Website