WEST LOOP — When Curtis Duffy found out his restaurant, Grace, had received a two star Michelin rating, he was "disappointed."
Not at the rating — he was more than proud of that — but that it was leaked before he got the prestigious phone call.
"It’s kind of saddening. It’s like taking Christmas away from a child," Duffy said. "You want to receive that phone call from [Michelin] and that’s something that they’ve always been famous for, calling that chef and letting him know personally."
He said knowing before the phone call was especially disheartening because this is the first time Grace will be in the guide and his first time as an owner. The restaurant at 652 W. Randolph St. has been open for less than a year.
The 38-year-old owner was at home when he received the official call around 9:30 a.m., though he hoped he could share in the experience with the whole staff.
"It’s a team award. It’s the entire restaurant, so it's fair that everyone receives that phone call," Duffy said. "It’s gratifying, it's humbling and it’s exciting all at once."
Duffy, dressed in pressed jeans, a black v-neck and grey blazer, sat in his elegant waiting room and explained the year-long process that takes to win the prestigious award Tuesday afternoon. Duffy said the accomplishment does not come down to just one fine dining experience.
"They come in throughout the year many times, and for us it's about being consistent on a daily basis and taking that consistency and making ourselves better every single day. What happened today is great, tomorrow has to be better, and that’s always been the approach to the restaurant," Duffy said. "We’re always tweaking. We’re always refining on how we can make what we’re doing better."
Duffy said the award could not come at a better time with the recent passing of his mentor, Charlie Trotter. Duffy worked for Trotter for the recently deceased self-taught chef for three years.
"I can contribute a lot of my knowledge to him and the restaurant and the people I'm surrounded with at the restaurant at the time. It means a lot," Duffy said. "We lost somebody who was great in the food and wine world. Hugely respected and way before his time. It's saddening."