WEST LOOP — Celebrity chef Graham Elliot has long been on the hunt for a third Michelin star, and his next shot will pair him with a longtime mentor in a new West Loop eatery.
Elliot and fellow Chicago chef and restaurateur Matthias Merges will open Gideon Sweet in the fall in the former Graham Elliot Bistro, 841 W. Randolph St., which closed one year ago on the neighborhood's "Restaurant Row."
Elliot, best known nationally as a former judge on "Masterchef" and "Masterchef Junior" said he is "psyched" to be working with Merges again.
Elliot has called Merges his biggest influence "professionally and privately" and even gave his son the middle name Matthias as a nod his former Charlie Trotter chef de cuisine.
Graham Elliot Bistro closed in August 2016, but its namesake will team up with Matthias Merges to open Gideon Sweet in its place this fall. [Google Maps]
Merges told Eater Chicago that he wants Gideon Sweet — named after a type of apple — to mix the West Loop's industrial vibe with lighthearted curiosities. Opening so close to iconic Chicago restaurants like Girl & the Goat, Au Cheval and Publican means Gideon Sweet will have to find a way to complement — not compete with — its neighbors, he said.
"People these days are more savvy about food, they're more savvy about cocktail-ing," Merges told Eater. "They're looking for more unique experiences."
Since shuttering his Bistro, Grahamwich and namesake restaurant over the past five years, Elliot has maintained his Chicago presence, serving up food at farmers markets, Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago.
Elliot, a resident of Morgan Park on the far Southwest Side, even has his own holiday coming up in Chicago, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel marking Sept. 19 as Graham Elliot Day back in 2012 to honor Elliot's induction into the Chefs Hall of Fame.
Both Elliot and Merges have been popping up at Wrigley Field over the past year as the ballpark reinvents its food offerings to include items from some top Chicago chefs.
Folkart Restaurant Management opened the Lucky Dorr bar this summer inside the Park at Wrigley complex and is expected to open another restaurant in the Hotel Zachary next year. Billy Sunday-inspired cocktails are also offered in the Wrigley Field bleachers.
Both chefs also had pop-up menus at Wrigley Field over the summer, joining Stephanie Izard, Jeff Mauro and Rick Bayless in the chef-inspired series.