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It's hard to overstate the influence Paul Kahan, Donnie Madia, and Eduard Seitan have wielded since opening the sleek Blackbird on Randolph Street 12 years ago. The most low-key restaurateurs in town are endlessly copied with each new concept, and they've maintained loyalty within their own ranks by assiduously promoting their own cooks. A significant number of others have spun off the web too.
Next door to Blackbird, the saunalike boite has been thriving since 2003, coming back from a tragic fire last August.
Justin Large—Big Star
The Wicker Park taco joint and whiskey bar is cash only and always packed; a "rogue" food truck is on its way (see below).
Brian Huston—The Publican
This three-year-old Fulton Street gastropub is one of the restaurants that set off the trends of snout-to-tail cooking, oysters, and craft beers.
David Ford—The Violet Hour
Executive chef of the speakeasy-style cocktail lounge across the street from Big Star.
Patrick Fahy—Cafe des Architectes
Pastry chef at the French restaurant in the Sofitel Chicago.
Mike Sheerin—Three Floyds Brewpub, the Trenchermen
Sheerin left Blackbird to open the forthcoming Trenchermen, in the meantime serving as consulting chef for Three Floyds brewpub.
Last year Levitski and his Top Chef co-contestant, sous chef Sara Nguyen, were brought in as fixers for this Lincoln Park restaurant.
Two years ago the Blackbird pastry chef and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Madison and opened this Mediterranean restaurant.
John Asbaty—Panozzo's Italian Market
Asbaty, who worked alongside Achatz at both Trio and Alinea, runs this near-south-side market featuring sandwiches and takeaway dishes.
Download the complete chef's tree here.