Giuseppe Tentori: The making of a celebrity chef

Scenes from the opening of GT Fish & Oyster.

Photograph: Chris Strong



KEVIN: You know, I think we opened our other restaurants a lot quieter.

Hottest Chef polls, Feast rankings, Sun-Times restaurant critic Pat Bruno’s humorously out-of-touch reviews, Michelin Bib Gourmands, Yelp rants: The food blogs (Eater Chicago and The Feast Chicago, both b. 2010, joining Grub Street Chicago, 312 Dining Diva, Chicago magazine’s Dish, The Trib’s The Stew, TOC’s Consume, etc.) have quotas to fill, so they write about every minuscule development of every restaurant—even (and especially) well before they open.

KEVIN: And there’s something to be said for going both ways, kind of underpromising and overdelivering. But I think as this town proliferates with so many restaurants opening and so many people using the Internet promoting themselves, I think you suffer by comparison if you don’t. People want to get excited about a restaurant before it opens. I think it’s part of the game now.

ROB: By being silent, you are going to fall behind.

On later visits to the GT F&O site, there will be the dust of electric saws, hasty meetings with architects and project managers around boxes of tiles, a guy coming in off the street trying to sell a security system. But for now, it’s empty, anxiously reposed.

KEVIN: The promotion is not the important part. The most important part is greatness trying to figure out how to be a great restaurant. Which is the…hardest part.

The Restaurateurs and The Chef usher The Reporter through the downstairs prep room and up a flight of stairs, pausing in what will be the lounge. They pass a toilet, left over from the previous tenant, perched in the corner: GT has Kevin take a picture of himself motioning to it, then posts it to Twitter, “Open bathroom at GT?” They stand in a circle in a smaller room, where The Restaurateurs visualize a chalkboard wall, two 10-tops, the flow of energy from the bar.

KEVIN: But you always want people to know that you’re there.

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