Great Regional Chefs of America
Don Yamauchi
Don Yamauchi
Le Français
Wheeling, IL

Saturday, November 10, 7:00 P.M.
Members $95, guests $120


For nearly two decades, Don Yamauchi has been working his way up the ladder on the Chicago restaurant scene, transforming himself from a starry-eyed young cook into a formidable culinary force. But when he and his partner, Phil Mott, got a call from Jean Banchet, the legendary chef/owner of the equally legendary Le Français in Wheeling, Illinois, Yamauchi knew he had truly made it to the big time. Banchet was ready to retire from his landmark restaurant, a pioneer of ultra-fine French dining in America; and the chef to whom he wanted to pass his mantle was Yamauchi. When he assumed the chef’s position in the kitchens of the famous restaurant—a restaurant that had earned consistent four-star ratings from both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, a restaurant that had hosted a panoply of gastronomic stars, from Julia Child to Jacques Pépin to Craig Claiborne to Mimi Sheraton—Yamauchi had joined the ranks of the nation’s top culinarians.


The Chicago native’s arrival, of course, was hardly unexpected. Yamauchi landed a job at the four-star Carlos, under the much-lauded chef Roland Liccioni, straight out of culinary school. After a short stint at Le Mikado, he went back to Carlos, where he worked the line for Gabriel Viti. Three years later, at the age of 23, Yamauchi was chef de cuisine. It was here that he earned a spot on Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs roster and a James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef Award nomination.


Next, Yamauchi opened his own place, the critically celebrated Bistro in Highwood. He was chef de cuisine at Patrick & James when he was tapped for the much-coveted chef’s gig at Gordon Sinclair’s famous Gordon. In 1999, Yamauchi teamed up with Mott, who was preparing to open a new restaurant in Chicago’s downtown River North area. But before the renovations were finished, Jean Banchet called.


In his new restaurant home, Yamauchi brings his own delectable twist to the classic dishes Le Français has long been known for. The food is lighter, brighter, a touch more modern: this is French cuisine for 21st-century America. And the critical response has been glowing. Last June, Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune awarded Le Français yet another four-star review—moving Yamauchi to the front ranks of the country’s culinary elite.

 

Seared Beef Spring Rolls with Daikon, Sprouts, Roquefort Cheese, and Horseradish
Cold Terrine of Foie Gras with Brioche and Truffles
Shrimp Toast with Pickled Red Onions, Cilantro, and Sriracha
Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV

Seared Sea Scallop with Cucumber Relish, Beluga Caviar, and Orange Syrup
St. Martin Laroche Chardonnay 1999
Monkfish with Coconut-Curry Sauce, Parsnip Purée, White Truffle Oil, and Green Peas
Trimbach Pinot Gris 1999
Roasted Squab Breast with Caramelized Radish, Braised Salsify, Brussels Sprouts, Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette, and Natural Juices
Chorey Les Beaune 1997
Lamb Rack and Lamb Loin with Peruvian White Beans, Herb Reduction, Fennel, Watercress, and Herb Salad
Clos Rene Pommerol 1997
Pastry Chef Caroline Blanc
Apple-Roquefort Tart with Caramel Sauce and Pine Nuts
Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes 1998

 

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