Erling Wu-Bower is driven by two things: beautiful ingredients and flavor. Paul Kahan’s kitchens have been the perfect place for Wu-Bower to refine his craft. Wu-Bower has worked under Kahan since graduating from college, initially as a cook at avec, then as a sous chef at The Publican and Publican Quality Meats, then back to avec before moving on to head Nico.
Cooking runs in Wu-Bower’s blood; his mother is an accomplished food writer and his father a food loving Cajun. He had little choice but to pursue a career in what he was taught and loved most—food. “I don’t know what else I’d do; cooking has been ingrained in my soul. There aren’t many people who get to go to work and practice their passion every day.” Family came first, but at an early age Wu-Bower found mentorship in acclaimed chef, and close family friend, Rick Bayless—it was Bayless who inspired his love of seafood, teaching him to expertly prepare fish.
Born in South Bend Indiana, Wu-Bower moved to Chicago at an early age and has called it home ever since. After attending the University of Notre Dame as a philosophy student, he joined Chef Paul Kahan’s culinary team at avec as a cook. A few years later Wu-Bower opened The Publican as Sous Chef, and there under the careful watch of Brian Huston, learned what it meant to be a chef. Wu-Bower stayed with The Publican until it outgrew its space, crossing Green Street to help open Publican Quality Meats, where he functioned as Executive Sous Chef of both kitchens. Wu-Bower then returned to avec as Chef de Cuisine, where he embraced the restaurant’s core cuisine while making the menu his own. As Chef de Cuisine at Nico Osteria, Wu-Bower carries over One Off Hospitality’s approachable style to rustic elegance for the Italian-seafood concept.