Put Local Eats in the Spotlight
From the Midwest to the Northeast, these three chefs truly embody the cuisine of their hometowns. Some are classically trained and others simply got it from their mommas, but they’ve all been heralded as top chefs in their communities. From unique meats in northern Illinois to farm-to-table cuisine in Burlington, Vt., these chefs impact their communities through fresh, delicious, from-scratch food that has locals begging for more. If lines out the door aren’t enough of an indication, the critics are equally impressed.
Mathew Lucas – BOLD American Fare, Algonquin, IL
When searching for the best barbecue, unique meats (alligator, for example), wild boar ribs and smoked brisket in northern Illinois, look no further than Lucas’ offbeat spin on American comfort food at BOLD American Fare. Lucas learned to cook from his mom and is inspired by her recipes to this day. Instead of ground chuck for his meatloaf, he raises the stakes with Wagyu beef. Instead of a traditional beef stroganoff, he smokes it. His barbecue, ribs and whole hog have won "readers' choice awards" from the Northwest Herald, and he’s a beloved figure in the neighborhood.
Kristen Hueneke – Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, WI
Hueneke has been working in restaurants since she was 14. In 2013, she thought she was applying for a line cook position at Lakefront Brewery, but to her surprise, she was hired as the executive chef. Since then, she’s become known for her innovative, locally sourced, fun, from-scratch dishes perfectly paired with Lakefront’s popular beers brewed onsite. She’s a true Wisconsinite, poaching sausage in beer before grilling, and cooking mac and cheese with five different Wisconsin cheeses, mustard and hot sauce. Her famous fried cheese curds and Friday fish fry have won top choice awards from the Milwaukee Magazine Dining Awards, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others. Not bad for someone who learned how to cook from her grandma.
Phillip Clayton – The Farmhouse Group, Burlington, VT
After bouts at celebrated Vermont restaurants Trattoria Delia and Hen of the Wood, Clayton opened Farmhouse Tap & Grill, El Cortijo Taqueria, Guild Tavern and Pascolo Ristorante as partner and executive chef of The Farmhouse Group. His commitment to simple food fresh from the earth has made him extremely popular in his new hometown of Burlington, Vt.