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Chef Bios: Kendal Duque

Kendal Duque

Kendal Duque

Kendal Duque grew up in a family of cooks. His maternal great-grandmother, known as one of the great cooks in Quito, Ecuador, was an inspiration to him as a child and a passion for cooking passed down the family lines to Kendal.

His family immigrated to the United States when he was young, and while studying at UC Berkeley, Kendal would often walk by the iconic Chez Panisse just to check out the menu. He quickly came to the realization that this was more than a passing curiosity and upon completing his thesis in Literature, he enrolled in culinary school. After graduating from Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (1996), he began working under the legendary Julian Serrano, first at Masa (San Francisco) and then at the Bellagio (Las Vegas). After two years with Serrano, Kendal moved to Chicago and continued his working education, working in the kitchens of Jean Joho’s four-star Everest and then as sous chef on the opening team of the highly-anticipated Tru.

Inspired by all he had learned, Kendal went to Paris to stage at several Michelin-starred restaurants, soaking up all he could of the intense atmosphere. From Europe, he spent time working in NYC at the acclaimed Union Pacific, and he then returned to Chicago to work as the sous chef at NoMi. It was at NoMi Kendal met Emmanuel Nony, and a few years later, the two began collaborating on Sepia, one of the featured restaurants in the iPhone application 42 Restaurants.

Kendal decided to move on from Sepia in March 2009, to start his own restaurant. He was succeeded by Andrew Zimmerman, formerly chef de cuisine at NoMI and one-time chef at Mod and Del Toro restaurants in Wicker Park.

In 2009, Kendal had been a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes award. With a degree in Latin American literature from the University of California, Berkeley, creativity is a defining characteristic of Kendal’s – it is the creative process he loves most about cooking and his style can be described as of the moment, good-spirited and filled with clean, pure, direct flavors. Simple, yet elegant.

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