Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Curtis Duffy knew at a young age that he had a passion for cooking. After completing culinary school, he relocated to Chicago to pursue a career in fine dining at the esteemed Charlie Trotter's. Duffy spent three years at Charlie Trotter's before leaving to work at Trio, where he met Chef Grant Achatz; A few years later both chefs left to open Alinea. Duffy later took his skill set to Avenues, where he garnered many accolades including Two Michelin Stars.
In mid-2011, he left Avenues to begin working on his own restaurant, Grace, which opened in late 2012. At Grace, Duffy's culinary style -- elegant, graceful cuisine -- is showcased. He puts ingredients at the forefront and draws on his wealth of experience in a way that employs technique to enhance flavor.
Since opening Grace on December 11, 2012, Duffy and the restaurant have been awarded many accolades, including Three Michelin Stars in the Chicago 2015 Guide, AAA's Five Diamond Rating, Forbes Travel Guide's 5 Star Rating, Robb Report's Best Restaurant in the World 2013, Chicago Magazine's Best New Restaurant, and Eater National's Chef of the Year.
Originally from Chicago, Michael Muser moved to California at a young age. While studying at California State University - Chico, Muser worked in restaurants to support himself and took the opportunity to learn more about wine. After graduation, he devoted his life to oenology. He took a hands-on approach to his studies and spent time traveling throughout Europe. There he worked harvest in Burgundy and Champagne, learning first-hand the winemaking process before coming to Chicago to join The Peninsula Chicago, as Wine Director and Sommelier. He built the beverage lists for the hotel's three restaurants, its bar, and for all catering functions and private events. At Avenues, Muser met Chef Curtis Duffy, and in 2011 the two began plans to open Grace.
Since opening Grace on December 11, 2012, Muser and the restaurant have been awarded many accolades, including Three Michelin Stars in the Chicago 2015 Guide, AAA's Five Diamond Rating, Forbes Travel Guide's 5 Star Rating, Robb Report's Best Restaurant in the World 2013, Chicago Magazine's Best New Restaurant, and one of Food and Wine’s 2014 Sommeliers of the Year.
At an early age, Romero’s parents established a love for food by teaching him the basics. They spent countless hours in the kitchen, where Romero began simply as an observer before lending his parents a hand. Although he loved it, at the time Romero didn't think he would become a professional chef . Like many teen boys, he had a need for speed and wanted to fly jets or drive Formula One race cars. Realizing neither of those careers was likely, he began studying at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, close to his hometown of Scott, Louisiana. While attending college, Romero realized he was less interested in conventional studies and more interested in the professional kitchen, so he switched to a culinary career.
While attending the culinary school at The Art Institute of Houston, Romero accepted a position as garde manger commis at BANK, a Jean-Georges restaurant located in the Icon Hotel. Following graduation (2005), the young chef stayed at BANK, honing his skills and working all stations until he rose to the position of Sous Chef. During his three-year tenure at BANK, Romero was exposed to many new ingredients and techniques; He learned to push himself to the highest levels while at BANK, and cites this experience as being critical in his growth as a chef.
A few of his fellow chefs had recently moved to Chicago, and upon their encouragement, Romero decided to relocate to Chicago and work within the city's challenging culinary scene. Romero staged at the highly acclaimed TRU under Laurent Gras, and was offered a saucier position after one day. While at TRU, Romero met Curtis Duffy, who was doing some consulting in their kitchen. The following year, Romero joined Gras in opening L2O and continued to move up the culinary ranks. A year later, Romero joined Duffy at Avenues, where they garnered two Michelin stars.
Romero views cooking as a form of self-expression, and while his style is still being defined, he favors clean, bright flavors and likes to meld a modern approach with classic techniques. He strives to learn in the kitchen every day, and he believes that both good and bad experiences help him become a better chef. When he’s not in the kitchen, Romero loves to travel and hopes to open his own restaurant in the coming years.