After all of the chaos of the leak, the parties, the anticipation, and even some disappointment, Michelin’s cocktail reception last night felt relaxed and relatively calm. Chefs seemed genuinely excited to make it out to the event at the Chicago Cultural Center, and Mayor Daley was there to help shake hands and congratulate both the star recipients and the Bib Gourmand winners. Grant Achatz closed down Alinea for the night so he could make it out. Graham Elliot joked around with Michelin Director Jean-Luc Naret, after the two engaged in a few prank phone calls. Even Michael Carlson from Schwa showed up to collect his one star. But the evening’s biggest excitement was seeing Laurent Gras return to Chicago.
Gras unexpectedly left L2O a few weeks ago. His boss, Rich Melman, related that he had left because of some differences of opinion, and that there was not much chance that he would return. Gras made it official yesterday, saying that he was leaving Chicago for good, and that he planned to open a new restaurant in New York. The gathering became almost like a goodbye event for the chef. It’s hard to think of another case when a chef received this much acclaim and then simply walked away.
But that was just one part of the event. Who else made it out? Check our slideshow to see.