Giuseppe Tentori: The making of a celebrity chef

Scenes from the opening of GT Fish & Oyster.

Photograph: Chris Strong


SCENE 2
WE’RE FISH GUYS

SET
ROB AND KEVIN’S INDUSTRIAL-NEUTRAL OFFICE, NOV 4, 2010

ROB: Things will come about because Kevin and I will think of the type of restaurant that we want to open.

Rob Katz—Bluetoothed, frequently spotted with Fiji Water—and Kevin Boehm—top buttons of his black-and-white checked shirt undone, door-holder of uncommon assiduousness—lead The Reporter to a seat at a farm table in their well-kept, one-room office above Girl & the Goat. The walls are exposed brick, and the air carries a not-faint scent of the pigs that go up in flames each night in the restaurant below.

ROB: We had three restaurants in Lincoln Park.

1. Boka, b. 2003, opening chef Giuseppe Scurato, replaced with Giuseppe Tentori in 2007
2. Landmark, b. 2005, a few doors down from Boka, sceney-yuppie bar and grill
3. Perennial, b. 2008, Tentori originally billed as exec chef, soon cedes title to then-chef de cuisine Ryan Poli, who quit unexpectedly last week.

ROB: We just wanted to branch out and grow our brand outside of Lincoln Park. The first step was here: [The BlackBerry rings] Girl & the Goat. And another neighborhood we really wanted to go into was River North, and another genre of food that we wanted to go after was seafood. We just felt there was a void in the market. And it’s one that’s near and dear to both of our hearts. We both love seafood restaurants, oyster bars—

KEVIN: Sushi bars—

ROB: Sushi. We’re fish guys. [The BlackBerry rings.]

KEVIN: It’s how we eat. [Answers The BlackBerry.]

ROB: And so Giuseppe was the natural for us to make a partner, because we adore him, he’s an extraordinary talent and it was time. To do a restaurant with him. And this is a restaurant that we wanted to do. So we go to Giuseppe, say, "Hey, we want you to be our partner in this new venture, this is what we’re envisioning," and then we sit down and we start to, you know, map it out. How we’re going to do this, what the menu’s going to look like, and Hello!

Enter: The Designer.

ROB: This is Karen Herold. She’s, I don’t know, senior vice president of 555 Design what’s the fancy title you go by?

KAREN: Mostly dragging around shit.

A meeting begins with Herold—diviner of Girl & the Goat’s fine-dining-meets-blowtorch aesthetic—The General Contractor and The Restaurateurs to discuss the pricing (estimated cost for bar stool: $400; for one handmade chandelier: $6,000) for the interior of GT Fish & Oyster.