WICKER PARK — Chef Michael Taus' new eatery, taking over the former Prasino along Division Street, will be the most personal endeavor of his career and aptly named Taus Authentic, to reflect the longtime restaurant veteran's passion for food and family.
“Food has always been a family affair for me ... My family was a huge influence in guiding and nurturing my love of cooking," Taus said in a news release about the Taus Authentic, which is scheduled to open in mid-to-late January and will bring about 35 new jobs to the area.
Located at 1846 W. Division St., the 6,000 square-foot storefront will be a chance for Taus, who worked alongside Chef Pierre Pollin at Le Titi de Paris and Chef Charlie Trotter before opening his own longstanding restaurant Zealous, to return to his roots and "execute a concept that reflects his cooking style and imagination alone," the release said.
Taus Authentic is named after a phrase that a former Zealous regular used to describe Taus' cuisine, Taus told the Tribune last week.
“Zealous was open for nearly 20 years. I loved the white tablecloth environment, but now I want to do something new and bring gourmet food into a more progressive space,” Taus said.
The critically acclaimed Zealous, a fine-dining restaurant that started in Elmhurst in 1993 and moved to Chicago before closing at the end of 2012, opened when Taus was just 25.
Since Zealous' closure, Taus focused on consulting projects to help other restaurants open, such as Coppervine and Da Lobsta, and also traveled to Europe.
In September, Taus signed a lease on the former Prasino restaurant, which shuttered abruptly in August, just after its third anniversary. Its former executive chef Jared Case had predicted the location would "be very easy for a new operator to come in; it's ready to go, ready to rock."
Though no details on Taus Authentic's menu or drinks have been revealed, a spokeswoman said Taus plans to "present food that remains anchored in the classic French techniques and layered flavors that have characterized the foundation of his career, but there will be no parameters, no restrictions, and no rules—instead, he will simply cook from the heart."
Taus said the new concept will offer the same exceptional level of quality found in a gourmet restaurant but Taus Authentic will ditch the upscale vibe in favor of the more casual and relaxed atmosphere of an everyday restaurant.
“These days, I’m less concerned with fitting my food into the framework of a 7-course menu and more motivated to focus on cooking food that I really love," Taus said.
On Monday, Taus said that initially the restaurant, which will be moderately priced, will be open for dinner but weekend brunch service is expected to be added shortly after the opening.
Partnering with area schools, including offering a cooking program to students at nearby LaSalle II Magnet School, is in works too, Taus said.
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