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Chef Andrew Brochu Departs Wicker Park's Monarch, Heads West to The Aviary

By Alisa Hauser | May 16, 2013 11:18am
 Chef Andrew Brochu departed The Monarch in Wicker Park Wednesday after a short stint at the sportsbar, which opened in January. Brochu's next stop is The Aviary.  Michael DeStefano, second in command at The Monarch and sous chef, will succeed Brochu and take the helm of the bar's kitchen. A new spring menu conceived by DeStefano will be available beginning Thursday.
Changes at The Monarch
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WICKER PARK — Less than five months after joining a royalty-themed sportsbar and restaurant, a Michelin-rated chef has jumped ship to reunite with a former employer. 

Andrew Brochu's departure from The Monarch at 1745 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park was announced Wednesday by The Aviary, a Fulton District fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar led by famed chef Grant Achatz, whom Brochu worked with previously.

Based on a social media flurry of reactions, the foodie community was stirred by Brochu's abrupt exit from The Monarch and arrival at The Aviary — but not surprised.

@skyfullofbacon (Michael Gebert) tweeted, "Whoa, didn't see Michelin level chef leaving Wicker Park beer bar coming AT ALL."

312 Dining Diva's Audarshia Townsend included the news in her morning e-newsletter Thursday: "No big shocker here. Andrew Brochu has left the sports-orientated Monarch to return to his fine-dining roots with the Alinea restaurant group," Townsend wrote.

Eater.com piped in, "Well, this can't come as too much of a surprise."

The Facebook update announcing Brochu's new chapter brought 187 likes — and rising.

More sympathetic reactions included "sucks for Monarch" and "Wow! Congrats! Indeed it does suck for monarch, but great for chef brochu and aviary!"

Whitney Read, a public relations spokeswoman for The Monarch, told DNAinfo Chicago late Wednesday that, "We've known for awhile that it could happen," referring to Brochu's close ties to Achatz.

Brochu worked with Achatz at Alinea before taking an executive chef post at West Loop's sleek Michelin-rated Graham Elliot restaurant, 217 W. Huron St., which he left to join The Monarch, a lower-profile space on a lesser traversed section of North Avenue three blocks east of the busy Milwaukee-Damen-North intersection.

Read added she "didn't think it would happen that fast."

Monarch's owner Colin Burke had no comment on Brochu's departure late Wednesday, nor did Michael DeStefano, who will succeed Brochu as The Monarch's executive chef.

DeStefano, who worked with Brochu for two years — most recently at Kith & Kin — was already working alongside Brochu as a sous chef and second-in-command since The Monarch opened in January.

On Thursday, The Monarch released a new spring menu conceived by DeStefano, a Kansas City, Mo., native who moved to Chicago in 2011.

DeStefano's new spring menu includes grilled pork steak, served with charred ramp pesto, pickled ramps, cured lemons and fresh herbs; chilled English pea soup, prepared with coconut and pink peppercorns; and crispy confit chicken thigh.