Traditional recipes

Chef Lee Wolen to Head New Restaurant for Chicago’s Boka Group

Chef Lee Wolen to Head New Restaurant for Chicago’s Boka Group

The Boka Restaurant Group has another card up its sleeve. Lee Wolen, the executive chef at Chicago’s Michelin-starred Boka, will be at the helm of a new concept that will be part of The Viceroy Chicago, an extension of the luxury Viceroy Hotel Group that owns properties in cities around the world. The new restaurant will be the 15th concept for BRG.

First talk of Somerset, as the new restaurant will be dubbed, came a little over a year ago. Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, founding partners of the Boka Restaurant Group, approached Wolen with the idea of starting a new place. With an eye to what Wolen wanted to cook, as well as what concept would be a fit for the restaurant group, they landed on a rustic, American focus.

“When you look at the trend of American dining, it’s rustic,” Wolen says. “People want to get a group together and share.” It’s a departure from his cooking style at Boka, which is more of a fine dining experience. Somerset will be designed in a “more casual, not as plated” way, something Wolen really wanted to bring to a new project.

The menu is still in development, but things will begin moving next week when Wolen and team transition into their test kitchen. Shared plates and an emphasis on vegetables are likely additions, and Wolen is particularly excited about the inclusion of a wood grill in the kitchen.

“The little things make you happy. Lots of codes have to be met to have a wood grill, so if it’s not in there from the beginning, you’re probably not getting it,” he explains. Expect that wood-fired flavor to be central to the menu.

The space is expected to have 160 to 175 seats and take full advantage of the former Cedar Hotel’s patio. They also plan to keep the building’s original façade intact.

While leading Somerset, Wolen will maintain his position as executive chef at Boka and bring some of that restaurant’s seasoned cooks over to the new kitchen. “Opening a new place creates growth for people who need it,” he said. “I have cooks who have worked with me for two to three years, and they’re ready for new responsibilities.”

Somerset is slated to open in tandem with The Viceroy Chicago fall 2017.

For more Chicago dining and travel news, click here.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


New Year, New BOKA Restaurant

"I'm always evolving with my clientele. I listen to them and I grow," says Giuseppe Tentori, longtime chef at BOKA, the restaurant responsible for catapulting Boka Restaurant Group into the upper-most echelons of revered restaurant groups. Over the duration of his five-year tenure at BOKA, Tentori has certainly blossomed into one of the top chefs in the city and the country, constantly wowing diners with dishes so stunning they look like they could be framed and strung up at an art museum. Singular flavors and ingredient combinations came to be Tentori's signature, all a part of his journey from incoming chef to one of the city's most exciting.



(Giuseppe Tentori)


"My culinary style changed," says Tentori, looking back over his time in the BOKA kitchen. "At first, I didn't know what it was or who I was. I just tried to keep the philosophy of simple, clean, and pure." For Chef Tentori, the mantra he always adhered to was crafting incredible food that was at once unique and special, but recognizable as well. "I want guests to recognize the food on the plate," he adds. Coming into one's own cooking style and developing a tangible philosophy is a taxing endeavor for most chefs, and Tentori is no different. However, by listening to his clientele and responding to customer feedback, he was able to ascertain a culinary style like no other, one that accels at purity and simplicity, albeit in grandiose compositions that make recognizable ingredients taste otherworldy.



(Farro three ways. Photo: BOKA)


You only have a few days left to taste Tentori's swan song, his final menu at BOKA before leaving on New Year's Day. True to form, Tentori's winter menu at BOKA restaurant is unlike any winter creations seen in Chicago. Baby squid comes with pineapple and spinach over a bed of jet-black squid ink tapioca. Seared foie gras skews sweet with the aid of chestnut cake, brioche sauce, pomegranate, and coffee gastrique. Farro fanatics (you know who you are) will flip over the farro three ways, a collection of farros prepared in different styles and bedecked with mushrooms, red beets, crosnes, grilled broccolini, squash, and red wine essence. The braised short rib is truly something special, elegant comfort food at its best, served with sage gnocchi, Burgundy truffles, Tuscan kale, and kabocha squash. Even a beet salad makes for a jaw-dropping experience, wherein roasted beets and walnuts are outfitted with Manchego croquettes, black pepper crackers, Navel orange, and honey vinaigrette. As Tentori steps down, Lee Wolen, nee of The Lobby, is set to fill his shoes. Look for BOKA 2.0 sometime in 2014, as Tentori gets to work on another new restaurant of his own, expanding his current repertoire beyond GT Fish & Oyster.


I look forward to seeing what Tentori does next. The man is one of the most talented and genuine chefs in the business, and I knew he was something special upon first meeting him to discuss a pasta-making bicycle machine years ago. Any chef dexterous enough to literally peddle fresh pasta is a chef to watch.


Watch the video: RU804: Kevin Boehm Co-CEO and Co-Founder of BOKA Restaurant Group (December 2021).