“A MagnIfIcent Taste” CulInary Event


The haute outdoor foodie event of the summer, A Magnificent Taste, celebrated the culinary delights of the district with delicious bites from Chicago’s best restaurants and celebrity chefs, surrounded by one of Chicago’s most iconic settings – The Magnificent Mile. A portion of the proceeds benefited Common Threads.

To view photos from the event, click here!

2013 Restaurant and Chef Participants

- TABLE fifty-two, Chef Art Smith
Frontera Grill/Topolobampo, Chef Rick Bayless
- David Burke’s Primehouse, Chef Rick Gresh
- deca RESTAURANT + BAR, Chef Mark Payne
- The Eli’s Cheesecake Company, Chef Laurel Boger 
- Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, Chef Joseph Rosetti
- Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, Chef Gary Baca
- Little Market, Chef Ryan Poli
- The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago, Chef Lee Wolen
- Magnolia Bakery
- Paris Club, Chef Alex Ageneau 
- Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush, Chef Christian Fantoni
 Quartino, Chef John Coletta
- Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chef Heather Terhune
Siena Tavern, Chef David Blonsky
The Signature Room at the 95th, Chef Rosalia Barron
- Starbucks
- Travelle, Chef Tim Graham

Beverage Partners
- River North Sales & Service
- Wirtz Beverage Group 


Art-Smith_100Chef Art Smith, James Beard Award Winner and Top Chef participant; Executive Chef of TABLE fifty-two

Bio: Chef Art Smith loves the idea of bringing people together through food. It’s partly what made him the success he is today. He is the executive chef and co-owner of Table fifty-two, Art and Soul, Southern Art and Bourbon Bar, and LYFE Kitchen restaurants. Art Smith has received the culinary profession’s highest awards and has cooked for some of the world’s most famous celebrities. In 1997, Smith became the personal, day-to-day chef to Oprah Winfrey, a position that lasted ten years. Smith now coordinates and cooks for special events all around the world.  

Most recently, Smith has made several television appearances including ABC’s Lady Gaga Thanksgiving Special, Top Chef and returned to Top Chef Masters (for the second time), where he quickly became an audience favorite. Smith was also featured in an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where he lent a hand to a deserving family that has devoted their lives to providing meals for the less fortunate members of their community.

Smith is the author of three award-winning cookbooks: Back to the Table; Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families; and Back to the Family. He contributed recipes and cooking advice to The Spectrum, the newest book by ground-breaking cardiologist and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Dean Ornish. In May of 2013 his latest cookbook was released, Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort, with a focus on healthy cooking and healthy living, (published by Harper One 2013).

Smith is the founder of Common Threads, a non-profit organization teaching low-income children to cook wholesome and affordable meals since 2003. He believes that through hands-on cooking and introducing children to fresh foods we can help prevent childhood obesity, reverse the trend of poor eating habits, and learn about diversity and tolerance through the celebration of our cultural differences and our commonalities.

Chef Rick Bayless, James Beard Award Winner and winner of Top Chef Masters; Executive Chef of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo
Bio: Most people know Rick Bayless from winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Master beating out the French and Italian with his authentic Mexican cuisine. He also serves as the Executive Chef of two award-winning Chicago restaurants, the casual Frontera Grill and the 4-star Topolobampo. His highly rated on-going Public Television Series, Mexico—One Plate at a Time can be found on television sets coast to coast, as well as his award-winning, seven cookbooks. 

In 2007, Frontera Grill won for Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Organization. His award-winning Frontera line of salsas, grilling sauces and organic chips can be found coast to coast. On the local front, Rick and his staff began the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to attract support for small Midwestern farms. Each year, grants are given to our local farmers for capital improvements to their family farms.

Rick Bayless has won James Beard awards for: Midwest Chef of the Year, National Chef of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year. Rick’s latest book, Fiesta at Rick’s (WW. Norton) spent the summer on the New York Times Best seller list. 

David Burke’s Primehouse, Executive Chef Rick Gresh

Bio: Growing up in the Cleveland area, Gresh earned his Associate Degree in Culinary Arts at the nationally renowned Culinary Institute of America. While in school, he landed an impressive externship at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and after graduation scored a spot on the line at Trio in Evanston. He the gained experience at a variety of restaurants including Celebrity Café, Tsunami, Green Dolphin Street, Caliterra Restaurant and in 2005 became the Executive Chef at the prestigious, private Saddle & Cycle Club. Gresh was named a “Rising Star of American Cuisine” by the James Beard Foundation in 2001. In 2004 and 2006 he was a USA competition finalist in the world’s premier culinary competition, the Bocuse D’Or. In 2011, Rick was awarded the “Chef Humanitarian of the Year Award” by Plate magazine.

deca-Ritz-Carlton--Chef-mark-payne_100deca RESTAURANT + BAR, Chef Mark Payne

Bio: How does one make a splash on the Chicago dining scene? According to Mark Payne, Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel), big and brash isn’t necessarily the recipe. Though he dabbles in molecular gastronomy, Payne doesn’t like to “play with food” too much, preferring to let simple techniques and the finest ingredients carry the day. He has connections with area farmers for everything from asparagus to baby lettuce to ramps, and he sources exceptional goat cheese from nearby Indiana. Payne recently traveled 300 miles (483 kilometers) to Burton’s Maplewood Farm in Medora, Indiana, to tap maple trees for the marinade on his flame-roasted quail.

Eli's-Cheesecake--Chef-LaurelBoger_Headshot1_100The Eli’s Cheesecake CompanyChef Laurel Boger

Bio: Chef Boger is the Executive Pastry Chef and creative Research Chef for The Eli’s Cheesecake Company. Aside from dazzling Eli’s domestic and international customers with her delicious desserts, she is a veteran cake designer at Eli’s for production of giant cheesecakes served at corporate, entertainment and celebratory events. Laurel earned her Baking and Pastry Arts degree at Johnson and Wales University along with her BA from Michigan State University, apprenticed in Germany and established her own signature Bakery Café in East Lansing Michigan before joining the Eli’s team. 

Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, Chef Joseph RosettiJoseph-Rosetti_100

Bio: Joseph Rosetti grew up in Chicago helping his Italian grandmother create the fresh pasta and sauces of his grandfather’s homeland in Marche, Italy. In 2012, Rosetti accepted the position of Executive Chef for Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group (HCRG) where he is oversees the company’s six restaurants and catering company. With HCRG, he is able to combine his two great culinary passions—Italian cuisine and exceptional steaks. His inspired style of cooking is being woven into the Italian Steakhouse traditions of Harry Caray’s—preserving classics while introducing spectacular new Italian ingredients and flavors as well as bringing his personal flair to steakhouse staples. Rosetti not only is a great culinary master, he is also an exceptional leader who motivates everyone who works in his kitchens to achieve excellence.

Gary-Baca_Joe's_100Joe’s Stone Crab, Chef Gary Baca

Bio: Baca brings over 25 years of experience in the restaurant business to Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. Gary’s role as Chef / Partner is to guarantee that the integrity of the original Joe’s Stone Crab of South Miami Beach is maintained here in Chicago and in Las Vegas. After collaborating with the Weiss family, founders of the original Joe’s Stone Crab, Gary has seen first hand why this restaurant has become a four-generation legend. Baca realized his passion for cooking at a young age by spending time with his grandmothers, one who cooked the same meals with complete precision, the other feeding 26 grandchildren with what seemed like nothing in the refrigerator. Gary prides himself on using the finest quality and seasonal ingredients in order to simply prepare dishes allowing their natural characteristics to show through.

Little Market, Executive Chef Ryan Poli

Bio: Ryan Poli thinks it’s a great time to be a chef in Chicago! Poli is part of a group whose mission is to bring culinary arts into Chicago’s schools. Self-taught, Poli spent 10 years traveling abroad and working his way through a number of influential kitchens, including Jean Banchet’s Le Francais, Sergi Arola’s La Broche in Madrid, Spain, and Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry. In 2004, he open Chicago’s Butter, which in 2005 was voted one of the country’s best new restaurants by Esquire, and one of the city’s leading restaurants by Travel + Leisure. In 2007, Poli returned to Spain, with stages at top Spanish restaurants. He brought his experience back home to a post as the executive chef Perennial. Throughout his career, Poli has cultivated a deep respect for sustainability in food and a love for Spanish and Latin cuisines. Poli opened Tavernita in summer of 2011.

The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago, Chef Lee Wolen

Bio: Chef Lee Wolen was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended a vocational culinary school during high school and quickly decided this would be his career. He worked as Sous Chef in Chicago at Moto and at Butter in 2005 and spent time at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and the famed El Bulli. Chef Lee comes to The Peninsula Chicago from Eleven Madison Park in New York, a three-Michelin-star restaurant, where he held the position of Sous Chef for three years. It has been his dream to return to the city.

Magnolia Bakery

Paris Club, Chef Alex Ageneau

Bio: Growing up in the Vendée region of France – which sits just off the Atlantic Ocean on the country’s west coast – Ageneau first discovered his passion for cooking as a young boy, while assisting his grandmother in the kitchen. He pursued that calling, and in 1998, at the young age of 15, his culinary career “officially” began when he started working as an apprentice charcutier in a butcher shop near his hometown. Ageneau finished culinary school at a small college in France and in 2001, moved to Chicago, accepting a position as a stagier under acclaimed chef Richard Liccioni at four-star restaurant Les Nomades. Chef Ageneau continued developing his skills, building an impressive resume by traveling the world and working under celebrated chefs including Pierre Gagnaire of Sketch in London in 2003 and Joachim Splichal of Patina in Los Angeles later that year.  In 2012, Chef Ageneau returned to Chicago and joined Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises French restaurant Paris Club as executive chef.

Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush, Chef Christian Fantoni
Bio: Chef Christian Fantoni developed a passion for Northern Italian cuisine at an early age. As the son of the cook for an Italian prince in Bergamo, Italy, Chef Fantoni learned the importance of creating a complete dining experience in addition to preparing mouthwatering food. After graduating culinary school in Italy and moving to New York City in 1994, Chef Fantoni worked in esteemed kitchens such as Le Bernadin, Le Cirque and Fiamma Osteria. After moving to Chicago in 2008, Chef Fantoni served as executive chef for Bice Restaurant. Chef Fantoni applies his passion for the fresh, seasonal flavors of his country’s cuisine to Filini in Chicago.

Quartino, Chef John Coletta 
JohnColettaJPG.jpg_100Bio: An award-winning chef who was named by a PBS TV series as one of “America’s Rising Star Chefs,” Coletta first began working in the industry as a teenager, when he would spend his summers working at a family owned restaurant in Italy.
Coletta has trained under legendary chefs like Alain Ducasse and Jöel Robuchon. Throughout the years, he has held several esteemed positions including chef di cucina at Nikolai’s Roof, a fine-dining restaurant located in Hilton Atlanta that earned a Mobil four-star rating during his tenure; and executive chef of Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, where he supervised a culinary staff of over 450 cooks and sous chefs. While serving as an executive chef of the five-star Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore, he was named one of the four “big guns” of Asian hotel cuisine by Sydney Morning Herald. Since opening in 2005, Quartino has been featured in several publications including USA Today Travel, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Under his leadership, the restaurant also earned the coveted Ospitalità Italiana seal, which is awarded by the Italian government and recognizes restaurants abroad that properly promote the traditions of the Italian food culture. Quartino Ristorante also received three stars by the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chef Heather Terhune
Bio: For Executive Chef Heather Terhune, Sable Kitchen & Bar presents a thrilling opportunity to continually push her ingredient-driven food philosophy in new directions. Focused on New American social plates, Terhune elevates classic dishes with contemporary flavors, building upon a decade of experience perfecting American comfort food at Chicago’s beloved Loop mainstay Atwood Café. A recent contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef Texas, Terhune made it to the top ten in the competition. Catapulted to the national stage, Terhune’s talent, passion and determination shone through week after week. A fan of the “eat local” movement, Terhune has found a way to incorporate Midwestern ingredients into Sable’s menu by having many of its supplies delivered by Rink DaVee of Green & Green, who helps Terhune to connect with roughly 20 area farmers. “Working with Rink allows us to have the benefits of farmer’s market shopping,” Terhune says. Terhune is a major supporter of sustainable and organic agriculture, including Chicago’s own Green City Market.

Siena Tavern, Chef David Blonsky

Signature-Room-Chef-Rosalia-Barron-Headshot_100The Signature Room at the 95th, Rosalia Barron

Bio: Executive Chef Rosalia Barron brings a wealth of experience to her role managing menu development and kitchen operations for The Signature Room’s fine dining restaurant and The Signature Lounge®. Serving over 800,000 guests annually from the iconic location situated over 1,000 feet above the city skyline, she leads a talented culinary staff including five sous chefs, 35 cooks, a pastry kitchen team of eight, and culinary apprentices. Her professional experience includes working with some of the top names in cuisine, including Rick Bayless, Carrie Nahabedian, and Dale Levitski. Chef Barron’s cuisine is straightforward, filled with appealingly light and fulfilling dishes and satisfying flavors. The Mexico City native earned her AA in Culinary Arts at Kendall College, and completed a three-month saucier training program at Le Cordon Bleu in France. 


Travelle, Chef Tim Graham
Bio: Having earned four stars from the Chicago Tribune and a Michelin star while running Chicago’s TRU restaurant, Tim Graham is an acknowledged rising star in America’s culinary landscape. His long tenure with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) and refined culinary skill has given him the chance to work with some of the world’s best chefs. At Travelle, Chef Graham’s contemporary Mediterranean cuisine takes diners on a journey that explores the region’s renowned flavors— from the shores of Southern France to the spice markets in Turkey. Chef Graham looks forward to sharing his contemporary interpretations of Mediterranean cuisine with the opening of Travelle. Following experiences in Milwaukee and on the West Coast, Chef Graham desired the professionalism and reputation of TRU and returned to the Chicago restaurant in 2003. In early 2010, LEYE founder Rich Melman asked Graham to join forces with internationally-acclaimed French Chef Joho as executive chef of the bistro-style French restaurant Brasserie Jo. Later that year, when RJ and Jerrod Melman took over the Brasserie Jo space to make room for a new French concept, Graham was an instrumental member of the culinary team that was intent on reintroducing French cuisine to a whole new generation of diners.


Watch highlights from 2011

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