LINCOLN PARK — Chef Bruce Sherman of North Pond restaurant had been waiting for the phone call for four years.
Tuesday morning at 9:45 Sherman, the chef and partner at North Pond, finally got the nod that his restaurant had made it. He got his first Michelin star.
"I was shocked," Sherman said. "I think my words were 'no f------ way' or 'you are f------ kidding me.' "
North Pond, and Sherman specifically, has gained recognition and acclaim over the years. In 2010, the first year Michelin published a Chicago guide, he expected to win.
In 2011 and in 2012, he was snubbed again.
"[The Michelin representative] said this morning, 'You know, you had probably given up on us,' and I said, 'Yeah, I had,'" Sherman said.
Sherman, a native Chicagoan, has been the top chef at North Pond since 1999 and over the years has had numerous awards come his way.
But none of them for his restaurant on the pond.
Tuesday morning, like the previous three Michelin days, Sherman tried to keep to his routine and ignore the weight of the day.
"It feels great to know it hasn't all been for naught," he said. "The longer you wait for something, the sweeter it is when it happens."
When he asked what separated North Pond this year from the previous 14 years of hard work, the Michelin representative said it was clear Sherman was evolving, working hard and not standing still.
"I think it's great for the morale of the staff," he said. "I cook, but it's the staff that does the work."
Sherman was named one of America's "Best New Chefs" by Food & Wine magazine in 2003 and was nominated by the James Beard Foundation in the "Best Chef: Great Lakes Region" in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Sherman won the "Best Chef: Great Lakes Region" award in 2012 and was named the "Most Sustainable Chef" at the Chicago Taste of the Nation event in 2008.
"It’s been awhile. I'm stunned, gratified and amazed," he said. "I don’t know what to say."