Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Curtis Duffy knew early on he had a passion for cooking. In 2000, he left Ohio to work at the legendary Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. After three years at Trotter’s, Duffy accepted a position as Pastry Chef at the esteemed Trio, where he was recognized as “Best Innovative Pastry Chef” from Food & Wine. Duffy met Chef Grant Achatz at Trio, and in 2004, they left Trio to open Alinea, where Duffy worked as Chef de Cuisine. Alinea skyrocketed to fame, being named the “Best Restaurant in America” by Gourmet just a year after opening, and is widely recognized as one of the best restaurants in the world. In 2008, Duffy took his impressive skill set to Avenues (The Peninsula Chicago) and was instantly celebrated for his thoughtful, progressive and imaginative cuisine by consumers and media alike.
At Avenues, Duffy garnered an extraordinary list of awards and accolades, including two stars from the prestigious Michelin Guide, the AAA Five Diamond Award , and perfect four-star ratings from Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Tribune. In May 2010, to mark the 20th anniversary of the James Beard Awards, Duffy was named a “Legacy Chef.” The James Beard Foundation asked previous Outstanding Chef award winners from each of the prior twenty years to select a chef whom they have mentored and who they believe would have a major impact on the culinary world in years to come. Grant Achatz selected Duffy, essentially naming him to the next generation of leading chefs. The following year, Duffy was nominated by the JBF as “Best Chef, Great Lakes Region.”
In mid-2011, Duffy left Avenues to begin making plans for his own restaurant, which opened in December 2012. At Grace, Duffy’s culinary style – elegant, graceful cuisine – is showcased, reflecting his personal taste and drawing upon his wealth of experience. His micro-seasonal cuisine is best described as “thoughtfully progressive” – thoughtful as he puts tremendous time, focus, research and thought into what he creates, and progressive as he will utilize modern techniques to coax the best out of the ingredients. Each dish is an expression of his personality – progressive but grounded – and puts ingredients at the forefront. He continues to source the highest-quality ingredients, allowing flavor to trump technique.
Since opening Grace on December 11, 2012, Duffy and the restaurant have been awarded many accolades, including AAA’s Five Diamond Rating, Forbes Travel Guide’s 5 Star Rating, Robb Report’s Best Restaurant in the World 2013, Chicago Tribune’s 4 Star Rating, Chicago Magazine’s Best New Restaurant, Eater National’s Chef of the Year, 2 Michelin Stars in the 2014 Chicago Red Guide, and Three Michelin Stars in the 2015 Chicago Red Guide.
When not in the kitchen, Duffy volunteers with the Grand Chefs Gala, a fundraiser benefitting the Greater Illinois Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 2010, he emceed the annual fundraiser and helped to raise $275,000 to benefit the Foundation, and in 2012 he served as the Chef Chair of the Gala.
Describe your culinary philosophy in 4 words.
Thoughtful, progressive, ingredient focused
What is your greatest inspiration?
If you could take a plane ride to any restaurant in the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
I would fly into Paris, France and take a train to dine at Bras (again).
What four things would you take to a desert island?
Carbon water filter, fishing pole, fully charged satellite phone, hatchet
- Three Michelin Stars in the 2015 Chicago Red Guide
- AAA’s Five Diamond Rating
- Forbes Travel Guide’s 5 Star Rating
- Robb Report’s Best Restaurant in the World 2013
- Chicago Tribune’s 4 Star Rating
- Chicago Magazine’s Best New Restaurant
- Eater National’s Chef of the Year
652 W. Randolph Street
Chicago IL 60661
Find Curtis’recipes from FOUR USA Winter 2015 here