After losing its opening chef shortly after it debuted a year ago, Bronzeville Winery has tinkered to figure out how to best serve its South Side diners.
Making adjustments doesn’t mean the restaurant hasn’t been busy. Crowds have packed the restaurant regularly showing further demonstrating how Bronzeville and its surrounding areas can support more restaurants, especially those that offer fine dining or upscale experiences. Filling that niche was one of the motivating factors in opening the ambitious restaurant. The restaurant suffered a setback with the departure of executive chef Whitney McMorris, four months after opening. Dondee Robinson has been running the kitchen and keeping operations running smoothly in the interim.
Co-owners Eric Williams (The Silver Room) and Cecilia Cuff searched for a chef to offer them stability. It turns out the right chef was in their backyard. Last month, Lamar Moore joined Bronzeville as its executive chef.
Moore, a Bronzeville resident, is one of the highest-profile Black chefs in Chicago. He was last seen in West Loop at Eleven Eleven, but he’s an energetic presence who’s consulted with Mariano’s and is not shy about promoting brands using his large social media following. Moore was also heavily involved with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen during the start of the pandemic, as the charity fed folks hit hard by the pandemic. Moore has also worked for Currency Exchange Cafe and Swill Inn. He burst onto the national scene when he won Food Network’s Vegas Chef Prizefight in 2020. The victory sent him to Vegas to work, but he returned to Chicago full-time a short time later.
For Moore, a chance to work near his home and to mentor young Black chefs, including Robinson, was a lure to Bronzeville Winery. He’s quietly revamping the menus. Happy hour and brunch are popular, so Moore wants to thrill diners. Loyal diners will find familiar tastes: a unique burger, fried chicken, and grits are some of his signatures.
More menu changes are on their way. The adjustments are the way to level up the restaurant and ensure future success. Eventually, Moore says he’ll add items like pan-seared salmon with corn succotash and cucumber relish; plus a 22-ounce beef ribeye that’s been dry-aged for 28 days (Moore works closely as a spokesperson for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and its Certified Angus Beef brand). More excitedly, the steak will pair with a collard green chimichurri, recipes the chef’s been testing for months.