On the latest episode of festivalPass Stories, our host, Pat Tully sits down with Chef, author, and entrepreneur, Paul Virant.

The restaurant business is tough, and you need the right attitude to just survive, let alone thrive, but Chef Virant has done just that, thrive. Pat goes through Chef’s culinary journey from after school kitchen jobs to owning his own restaurant. Chef Virant takes us behind the kitchen door to hear his personal story of passion and inspiration in the food industry and the good, bad, and ugly he has seen along the way.

He ‘dishes out’ some incredible stories from his days at The Culinary Institute of America and to his early days back working for Chef Wayne Nish in New York City. A native of Chicagoland, he gets his big break and his dream comes true when he is invited to audition for the legendary Chef and Restauranteur, Charlie Trotter. His audition story makes him a restaurant legend. But the big moment comes when he realizes a need for Chicago City style restaurants in the fast growing and affluent suburbs of Chicago, like Hinsdale. Soon he opened Vie and it quickly becomes a hit. He’s the talk of the town and is awarded a coveted Michelin Star. From there he opens Vistro Prime and then it’s back to the city to open Chicago’s first okonomiyaki restaurant, serving both Hiroshima and Osaka styles of the savory Japanese pancake. Gaijin was born. The word means “outsider” in Japanese.

Chef Virant embraces this perspective and honors traditional preparations and techniques, as well as his well-known passion for pickling and preserving (true story). Oh, and he is an author as well! And how could we forget his stints on Iron Chef America and Chopped! As a business owner he knows how important it is to give back to the community. So, when he is not running his restaurant empire, you can find him volunteering for schools and charities in the Hinsdale and Chicago area.

Find Chef Virant at https://www.paulvirant.com/ or https://www.instagram.com/paul_virant/

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