Tuesday, August 9, 7:00 pm
Members $90, guests $115
One taste of Homaro Cantu’s dishes (or even one look at them) and you’ll understand why this Chicago wunderkind entertained thoughts of becoming an inventor or a pyrotechnician before settling on the only slightly less thrilling profession of chef. Like Tyler Durden, protagonist of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club, Cantu operates according to a few unbreakable rules: avoid cookbooks, as they will unfavorably influence your style; creating cannot involve copying; and, if you need a new tool, make it yourself. This code seems to be working for him. As David Bernstein of the New York Times noted, “Food critics have cheered, comparing Mr. Cantu to Salvador Dalí and Willy Wonka for his peculiarly playful style of cooking. More precisely, he is a chef in the Buck Rogers tradition, blazing a trail to a space-age culinary frontier.”
Cantu’s inventiveness takes off from a solid culinary foundation formed during stints in some of the country’s best kitchens, including Patina in Los Angeles, Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. Now running the show at Moto, Cantu’s incessant curiosity and technical prowess add up to a dining experience unlike any other: your meal might include an edible photo of sushi, pork belly with Kentucky fried ice cream, or birthday cake ravioli. Chicago magazine was impressed, awarding Cantu its Best New Chef distinction in 2004. In CS magazine, J.P. Anderson wrote admiringly of the way that Cantu forges “a uniquely creative dining experience that can be as satisfying as it is surreal,” noting, “One thing’s for sure—you’ve never eaten like this before.”
Experimenting with cooking techniques is nothing new to Barry Dobesh, who began cooking at an early age and built several smokers with his father at their home in the Nebraska countryside. After receiving his culinary degree from the Colorado Institute of Art, Dobesh went on to work at Moto, where he cooked his way up the ranks of the kitchen to become sous-chef.
It takes a gutsy pastry chef to keep up with Cantu and Dobesh, but Ben Roche has risen admirably to the task. Having started his career as a dishwasher, Roche became hooked on the kitchen life while attending Johnson & Wales University. After a six-month stint cooking in the south of England, Roche continued his culinary career in Houston before making his way to Chicago and the kitchen at Charlie Trotter’s, where he met Cantu.