Avec, Chicago, IL (Mediterranean)

Avec opened in October 2003 as a partnership between Chef Paul Kahan, restaurateur Donnie Madia  and wine steward, Eduard Seitan. They have since opened a second location and offer national delivery  of their dishes. Chef Paul Kahan is well known throughout Chicago for his outstanding culinary feats in  11 restaurants. He grew up around food with his father owning a delicatessen and smokehouse.  Kahan’s first culinary job was at Metropolis under the tutelage of Erwin Dreschler. From there he  trained with Chef Rick Bayless at Topolobampo before opening his first restaurant, Blackbird, and  earning Food & Wine’s 10 Best Chef Award. Chef Dylan Patel also grew up in Chicago and began his  career as a kitchen intern at Avec in 2015 and worked his way up the restaurant ladder until becoming  chef de cuisine in 2019. His artistry comes from transforming local ingredients from around the  Midwest to “aromas, colors and flavors of the Mediterranean. 

You will want to start with the chorizo stuffed dates, which are spicy but so delicious. The focaccia with  honey is addicting. You will want to try the grilled gem lettuce and frisee which is loaded with  Mediterranean flavors such as garlic touum and za’atar. The pork shoulder is slow roasted with piri piri  broth, bulgur wheat, clams and smoked yogurt. The flavor combinations are unforgettable. Baked  Chicken Shawarma Roti comes with vegetable mezze, hummus, olives, fermented chili sauce, garlic  toum and hearth baked pita on the side so you can pick which flavors you want to combine. To finish  your meal, you try the citrus and earl grey snickerdoodle cookies or if you have room … the coconut  cheesecake. You can’t lose by choosing any of the menu offerings at Avec. They are all delicious. 

Avec stayed open during the COVID-19 pandemic by pivoting to take-out and delivery. Previously  considered a “special” occasion restaurant, Avec transformed a “neighborhood” spot with a constantly  changing menu to appeal to guests. Recipes which previously were multi-layered to allow for  presentation were simplified so the “at-home” cook can reheat it and maintain its delicious flavors.  Avec has since reopened to guests in a limited capacity based on local COVID-19 restrictions. 

Zagat: 4.8  

Gayot: Top 40 

Website: www.avecrestaurant.com 

Phone: (312) 377-2002

Tony Lagana

Chef Tony is a 42-year veteran of the food industry and is often known by his peers as “The New Product Guru.” Throughout his illustrious culinary career, he’s earned several notable titles and positions including Acquisition International’s “Most Influential Product Development Expert, U.S.” in 2019.

In 1997, Tony also founded Culinary Systems Inc., a group of culinary consultants that assist with culinary training, restaurant start-ups, concept development, and more. Since then, Tony and his team have generated over two billion dollars in sales for their clients in restaurants, retail, and manufacturing.

The strategic, technical, and culinary skills of Tony and his team can be seen on the menus of national chains, in the portfolio of national food manufacturers, and on the grocery shelves of products produced by major retail companies.