Take everything that connotes Midwestern charm: effusive goodwill, love of community, and a killer work ethic, and you will find its embodiment in Chef Chris Pandel. His food is just as appealing””rooted in classic French technique and predominantly local Midwestern ingredients, Pandel’s cooking is rustic, yet refined.
Pandel graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, and then spent what he calls “graduate school” in New York City, at CafÃ© Boulud under Chef Andrew Carmellini. He soon returned to his roots in Chicago, as well as to a job at TRU, which led to a position as corporate chef at three of Chef Rick Tramonto’s restaurants. Of his mentors, Pandel says Carmellini molded him into a cook, and that under Tramonto, he earned a “sense of self” in the kitchen and the know-how to run a business.
In 2008, Pandel opened neighborhood eatery, The Bristol with partners John Ross and Philip Walters. Located in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, Pandel’s menu features handmade pastas and charcuterie; farm-fresh, locally sourced produce; and a nose-to-tail approach to cooking. The Bristol has become the cornerstone of the B. Hospitality Co, fostering new talent in the kitchen and front of house.
Balena, an ode to Italian influenced simplicity, opened in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in March of 2012. Balena’s menu consists of handmade pastas; pizzas from the wood-fire oven; and locally sourced, farm-fresh meats and produce. Balena was included in Bon Appetit’s list of 25 best new restaurants in 2012, and was nominated for a James Beard “Best New Restaurant” Award. Formento’s and Nonna’s opened on Chicago’s West Loop “Restaurant Row” in January 2015.
Formento’s is an Italian-American heritage restaurant with warm hospitality and polished service, reminiscent of a 1950’s “red sauce joint.” The menu features classic Italian-American fare grounded in tradition. Sharing a kitchen with Formento’s, Nonna’s offers sandwiches, salads and sides exclusive to the 200 square foot restaurant location. Nonna’s also boasts a full retail wall of culinary products, including Formento’s homemade sauces, dressings, and exclusive wines.
Pandel and B. Hospitality Co. will open Armour & Swift in Spring 2015, which will feature a meat-centric menu celebrating the history of Chicago’s meatpacking district.