Here’s our list of the 5 best chefs in Chicago this year. Now a few things about Chicago and its culinary industry. Keep in mind, the city isn’t just known for its deep-dish pizza and hotdogs. Instead, it’s now growing into a major foodie hub, with loads of restaurants surfacing left and right across the city. As of this writing, there are now over 8000 places to eat in Chicago, and all of them have very diverse culinary options to offer.
Chicago is definitely a league of its own, especially in regards to its signature dishes. So it doesn’t really matter whether you’re new to the city’s culinary scene, or an actual resident — You’re recommended to try out all of the different food in the Windy City, especially ones prepared by the chefs in our list below.
We wanted to know who’s who in Chicago’s culinary scene today. So we asked for the feedback of our fellow Chicago-based foodies and food bloggers, and essentially almost everybody we knew living in the city for a long time. And since some of us are currently based in Chicago, we went to highly recommended restaurants to choose which ones are the best this year. And here’s what we found out:
Top Chefs in Chicago
Williams is the executive chef and owner of Virtue Restaurant & Bar. He truly has a passion for cooking, and you can see it in his recipes. Recently, the New York Times named him as one of the “16 Black Chefs Changing Food in America”. Williams has also hosted dinners for the prestigious James Beard Foundation awards.
Harzewski has an amazing technique when it comes to cooking and baking, all thanks to his training at Payard’s, under Francois Payard himself. He has also worked in Le Cirque, a famous restaurant in his native New York. Harzewski soon moved to Chicago and became a pastry chef at NAHA, where he still works to this day.
In the culinary world, Russell holds the honor for being the first black woman to hold a Michelin star, which is a feat in itself. She currently works as a chef for Kumiko and Kikko, a restaurant and bar located in Chicago. Kikko serves omakase-style Japanese food, and Russell ensures that all of her guests leave feeling full and satisfied.
Gaytan is the very first Mexican chef to hold a Michelin star. He currently owns 3 restaurants, namely: Tzuco, Tales of Carlos Gaytan, and Panago. All these restaurants are located under the same roof, serving Mexican cuisine. But there are still notable differences between them — Tales is more of a tasting room, Panango is a panaderia and café, while Tzuco is a seafood restaurant.
Nahabedian is also a part of NAHA’s staff, just like Craig Harzewski. She started developing a love for cooking after being influenced by renowned celebrity chef Julia Child, as well as her own mother. She first started out as an apprentice at the Ritz Hotel in Chicago and has also worked in Le Perroquet.
As you can already tell, there are plenty of restaurants in Chicago where you can dine in. And we urge residents and visitors alike to try them out, especially the restaurants mentioned in our list of the top chefs in Chicago this 2021. Plus, keep in mind that for a restaurant to function well, it needs to be led by an amazing chef. So we took a closer look at the chefs in our list, and also at unbiased reviews about their signature and most famous restaurants. And as we began to trim down our shortlisted options, we just had to test them out. That’s how we were able to zone in on the 5 best chefs in Chicago today.