June 22, 2024


Food & Travel Enthusiast

Chef Dominque Tougne, Chicago’s Ambassador of French Culture, Dies at 56

Chicago’s culinary globe and French neighborhood are mourning the loss of Chez Moi chef Dominque Tougne. Tougne, who opened a different restaurant, French Quiche, in 2020, died on Wednesday, July 20, after struggling a heart attack. He was 56.

Extended prior to the burly, bald chef resembling French comedian ebook character Obelix opened Chez Moi a ten years back in Lincoln Park, he began his decorated culinary occupation as a teen escalating up in northern Alsace, France. He acquired less than well known cooks these as Joël Robuchon and Jacques Sénéchal, and when he arrived in Chicago he concentrated on trying to keep these culinary traditions alive.

Further than his Chicago places to eat, he also lent his recipes and experience to La Voute, the French cafe that opened in 2015 in suburban Homewood.

He emigrated to America in 1996 just after Levy Dining places recruited him to work at Bistro 110, a French restaurant off the Impressive Mile and across from Water Tower Put. He also labored with longtime Levy collaborator Tony Mantuano, the famous Spiaggia chef who cooked for the likes of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Tougne put in 15 yrs at Bistro 110 and designed a track record as an ambassador for French delicacies, gaining favor with nearby French civic teams who adored his determination to preserving the tradition. In 2000, the James Beard Basis nominated him for Mounting Star Chef. Tougne was also a pioneer, particularly when it arrived to serving consumers with food items allergies. He made considerably of Levy’s pointers for allergic reactions right after a single his very own small children designed them. This was in the early 2000s when places to eat weren’t as eager to get worried about them.

Before long after Bistro 110 closed, he partnered with yet another French countrywide, previous Blackhawk goaltender Cristobal Huet, to open Chez Moi in 2012.

“His perseverance to French culinary arts, his boundless generosity, and earlier mentioned all his reliable friendliness and joie de vivre will be deeply skipped by all of us,” reads a statement from the Consulate Normal of France in Chicago.

The chef was known for being direct with his colleagues, and that integrated a budding chef named Carlos Gaytán. Prior to Gaytán became the initially Mexican chef driving a Michelin-starred cafe, he worked at the Union League Club of Chicago as its banquet chef. That place deferred considerably to the executive chef at the time it was Michael Garbin.

Gaytán, now the chef at Tzuco, remembers Tougne attending a meal for the French consulate basic and asking who was in cost. Garbin, who was well regarded in chef circles, experienced now absent dwelling for the night time, and Tougne did not respond properly when Gaytán revealed it was him, a newcomer without a pedigree.

“I instructed him I do this just about every working day,” Gaytán states. “And that he could leap in at any time.”

In its place Gaytán proved his mettle. After meal Tougne apologized to Gaytán for his uncertainties, telling him he had under no circumstances seen another person operate like Gaytán had. At any time so related inside of the French group, he termed Ga​​ytán the subsequent 7 days and requested if he was intrigued in the chef du delicacies at Bistrot Margot, the Aged City French cafe that lasted 16 decades until eventually closing in 2015 on Wells Road. Gaytán says the job under under one particular situation: Tougne experienced to instruct Gaytán the intricacies of French cooking.

“I wanted anyone to educate me French delicacies from the roots,” Gaytán claims.

For the future four months Tougne eagerly tutored Gaytán every day from 8 a.m. to noon right before the restaurant opened. Gaytán created good use of these classes. His Michelin-starred restaurant, Mexique, blended French method with Mexican taste to wonderful good results right before closing in 2018 in West City. In return, Gaytán hook up his mentor to chances cooking in Mexico as the two seized the opportunity to interact in a cultural trade.

“It’s complicated conversing about this ideal now,” Ga​​ytán says, struggling for phrases.

Tougne taught a innumerable amount of chefs about French food stuff, which includes Mitchell Abou Jamra, the operator of Evette’s and All Far too Nicely in Lincoln Park, situated a limited distance from Chez Moi. Abou Jamra phone calls Tougne a single of his idols. Though his heart was normally in the kitchen, management pushed him to operate as a server at Bistro 110. But that didn’t cease Abou Jamra from popping his head into the kitchen, striving to soak up strategies. Tougne respect that curiosity and, due to the fact of his type demeanor, he served as an inspiration.

“You wanted to make him happy for the reason that of exactly where he arrives from and his chef’s lineage,” Abou Jamara says. “It’s extraordinary. I just can’t assume of a different chef who has experienced such a huge effects in Chicago.”

Chez Moi and French Quiche should reopen on Wednesday, August 3. Providers will consider area on Monday, August 1, at Drake Funeral Dwelling.

65 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 427-7800