Many restaurants hold tastings, in which candidates for the head chef job cook to show what they can do. That’s typically been a part of the business kept out of sight of future customers, but why? It’s excited to see how a restaurant’s destiny is decided, a real life game show with a career as the prize. And so Old Town’s The Refinery, an upscale restaurant and bar opening in late spring at 1209 N. Wells, is the latest to let the public in on this secret of the back of the house— and we’re exclusively premiering the videos they made about the process, today and tomorrow.
Once the management team had it down to two candidates, they arranged for both to cook at the Illinois Institute of Art (so don’t take the decor as evidence of how the place will look) for the managers and for a group of invited neighbors from Old Town. The restaurant’s theme is refined takes on familiar and beloved dishes, so the candidates were given certain dishes they had to make— a bar snack, an appetizer, a burger, and a version of brick chicken— plus the opportunity to do some other dishes to show off their full capabilities. First up: Brian Flach, who has experience in farm to table restaurants in New York, not to mention experience competing for a gig like this— he was one of the six chefs featured last fall in our own videos for the chef position at Table, Donkey and Stick. So think of this as his return for Season 2; tomorrow we’ll have the other chef he’s competing against.