with Chef-Owners John & Karen Shields

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 –


Successful Homecoming at Smyth

Todd Arkebauer, Vice Chargé de Presse, Chicago; Photos by Doug McGoldrick for Johnseye Photography

      On January 17, 2017, fifty Chicago Chaîne members visited Smyth, the much-anticipated restaurant helmed by Charlie Trotter alums John and Karen Shields. The husband and wife team left Chicago in 2008 to open a restaurant in rural Southwestern Virginia where they explored inventive flavor combinations and imaginative culinary compositions with seasonal, locally grown and foraged ingredients. Fortunately for the Windy City, the Shieldses returned in 2016 with their mature vision of unpretentious fine dining focused on thoughtfully sourced, fresh ingredients, including produce from an Illinois farm that has partnered exclusively with Smyth and its subterranean sister eatery, The Loyalist. The dynamic duo’s gastronomic formula has been received enthusiastically:  within a few short months of opening in the red-hot West Loop last August, Smyth was awarded a Michelin star and four stars from the Chicago Tribune.

Members ascended into the inviting space, reminiscent of a homey loft with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, oriental rugs and couches in the waiting area. As guests were seated at graciously spaced tables, attention was quickly drawn to the impressive open kitchen that served as stage for intense performers laser focused on their culinary craft. The ensuing show comprised twelve deeply flavorful courses dominated by texturally unconventional compositions with Japanese influences. General Manager and Wine Director Christopher Harris selected exceptional wines from the Smyth cellar to enhance the complex and sometimes unexpected gastronomy.

Midway through the meal, Bailli Mon Roldan presented a Chaîne plaque to John Shields, and as the event concluded, he thanked the Smyth team before presenting Awards of Merit to Chef de Cuisine Nicholas Romero and Christopher Harris, both alumni of Michelin three-star Grace restaurant. Confrères welcomed the return of Shieldses to Chicago and were delighted to experience the unforgettable cuisine of this enormously talented team.