Giuseppe Tentori: The making of a celebrity chef
Scenes from the opening of GT Fish & Oyster.
as The Chef
ROB KATZ and KEVIN BOEHM
as The Restaurateurs
as The Reporter
with special guest appearances by:
Two months before opening their fourth Chicago restaurant, Girl & the Goat, Rob and Kevin signed a lease on a fifth, in the former Tizi Melloul space in River North. They took the keys to the space, locked the door and focused on Stephanie Izard’s Goat, which, when it opened in July 2010—after more than a year of preview dinners, contests and Twitter updates—ran like a long-lost child into the embrace of the city’s diners and critics. BlackBerries hot with reservation requests for the Goat, Rob and Kevin turned their attention to the Tizi space, which they would gut and transform, over ten months, into a seafood establishment. Like Boka (the pair’s original collaboration), Perennial (their third) and the Goat, the next restaurant would be “chef-driven,” a phrase whose ubiquity capitalizes on diners’ increasing interest in who is cooking their food, despite the fact that the chef isn't always calling the shots. The chef and partner would be Giuseppe Tentori, whom the pair had installed in the Boka kitchen four years earlier, and that corner of Wells Street and Grand Avenue would be named for him: GT Fish & Oyster. The space, set to open in March, would be smaller than the Goat. The budget would be, too. But could the opening—and most important, the chef—be almost as big?
INTRODUCING: THE CHEF
BOKA RESTAURANT, EMPTY, TABLES DRAPED IN BLACK, DEC 10, 2010
TOC: Are you an eye-roller?
GT: Go in detail with that question.
Giuseppe Tentori—Food & Wine Best New Chef 2008, 38 years old, Italian-accented English both awkward and endearing—sits in the dining room of Boka, an eight-year-old Lincoln Park restaurant credited for having the first “cell-phone booth” and the recent recipient of a Michelin star, for an interview with The Reporter.
TOC: A couple times, I’ve seen you roll your eyes.
GT: A lot of my expression will come out from my face: from my expression, my eyes, or just physical. When I used to work at Trotter’s, I used to always grab my right hand and just go like that [Moves right hand to forehead] to my face, just scratch my face off when I was very frustrated, because I just want to kill somebody.
Introducing: The Chef. He can be kind of hard to read.