If you know a thing or two about the Chicago food scene, then you’ll know that Tete Charcuterie is a hot topic right now. We sent Sarah, our head concierge, on an interview with the chef duo, Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski, and ventured out to restaurant row to get the scoop on this charcuterie themed restaurant, as July is National Picnic Month. [View Menu]
Here is their story:
Sarah Beasley: How did you get into the restaurant business?
Tomas Rice: It’s what I was interested in, what I wanted to do.
Kurt Guzowski: I’m sticking to the story that this was my life path. It chose me, I chose it. I remember as a little kid always being infatuated with food, being in the kitchen with grandmothers and aunts on Sunday suppers and things like that.
Sarah Beasley: Are you from Chicago?
Tomas Rice: We are both from here, went to different high schools in the same town but didn’t know each other. We met in 2003 working in Courtrights side by side. When it closed, we went our separate ways for a couple of years and then reconnected on some projects we were unhappy with. This was a secondary interest, at the time for us, but we took a shot at it and something we saw we could jump on and elaborate, the concept of charcuterie and sausages, spin it and present it in an original manner in the city of Chicago.
Sarah Beasley: Why Charcuterie?
Tomas Rice: It was definitely a trend that was up and coming when we started this project. 2011 is when we established to do a couple of events. So, yeah, it was a trend and farm to table food was a hot topic with people. We just looked at the concept of sausages and what that encompassed, mostly to the city of Chicago, but also on a broader spectrum, what that meant worldly. All the bars had it, a charcuterie board here and there. There’s more tradition and more refinement that should go into it, and so we wanted to bring that here and in a different format.
Sarah Beasley: On your website it says “a passion for animals and every part of them”, can you explain that a little more?
Tomas Rice: Using the whole animal, every part you can. Charcuterie pertains itself to that- the heart, the kidney, the liver, there’s so many things, traditional things, cooking techniques that go into it. When you get into charcuterie, you have to preserve it. People use the whole animal.
Sarah Beasley: What is your philosophy on the concert of this restaurant?
Tomas Rice: What is our philosophy…we want this to be an extension of someone’s house, we want them to feel comfortable, like they were meant to be here. We want it to be genuine, give them something, a new concept of something that they may be familiar with or something they may not be familiar with. If you are genuine and passionate about presentation, people tend to connect with it, and that’s important to us.
Sarah Beasley: If you had to describe your restaurant in one word, what would it be?
Kurt Guzowski: Nostalgic. It represents the past but is being presented in a new era. It brings out a childhood memory or a situation. Give them a nice little memory of something.
Sarah Beasley: What has been your greatest success in this adventure and your greatest setback?
Tomas Rice: Opening was our greatest success because we started this adventure in 2011. It’s definitely been a fun, interesting and definitely a learning experience opening a restaurant. Setback, timing is probably best and worst experience out of this whole thing. This is our first one.
Sarah Beasley: Do you have plans to open more?
Tomas Rice: Yes, absolutely. Not necessarily this concept but just accompanying the landscape of restaurants here in Chicago. I think we have a lot of good ideas that can help continuously develop food ideas that people want to put out there but maybe don’t know how. We would like to be on the forefront of developing the culinary and restaurant concepts here in Chicago.
Sarah Beasley: What are you favorite dishes here?
Kurt Guzowski: Pate crude, we love. There’s so much skill that goes into it- all the things that could go wrong, or not. I just think it’s amazing. Then the Spring Garden is a favorite. It’s constantly changing and evolving just because it’s the ‘fresh of the day’. We go to our venders and ask what vegetables they have that we can put into this dish that’s kind of taken on its own life. It’s different vegetables, spices, vinegars, juices- it’s a complex dish.
Sarah Beasley: What do you love about Chicago?
Tomas Rice: It’s friendliness, genuineness and openness. The winter is not so pleasant [haha]. It’s nice to finally see Chicago, as a whole, develop into a city of cities, and to see some of that culture come out. I think that’s important because culture can get lost in people’s lives.
Sarah Beasley: Do you have a favorite secret restaurant in Chicago?
Tomas Rice: Loa Sze Chuan, mom and pop shops, anything ethnic because it gives us different ideas every time.
Sarah Beasley:What’s a tip to a first timer in Chicago, don’t leave town without doing…
Kurt Guzowski: Without coming to Tete Charcuterie first. Post Tete, enjoy the lakefront in the summer. Chicago summers, we’ll be your concierge, but come here first.