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Paul Virant, of Vie restaurant in Western Springs, is a new school chef focusing on old school ways. Lots of chefs talk about cooking in season, using local products, and cooking from the heart. Many of those chefs are just throwing out buzzwords. Chef Virant, on the other hand, is working hard to source midwestern ingredients, preserving and canning fruits and vegetables, curing meats, foraging for mushrooms, and digging fresh ramps. He believes in the purity of food, and celebrating the simple bounty of the earth. When we spoke during this interview, I asked him who he’d invite to a dinner party he was throwing. His response, Jimi Hendrix, legendary French Chef Fernand Point, and famed ecologist Rachel Carson. Yep, an ecologist. Paul Virant is the real deal.
If you have Macromedia Flash installed, you can play the file right on this site, below, by pressing the play button. If not, download the file and play it on your PC or on an MP3 player here: Paul Virant Interview
You can also view a slideshow of Vie from Hungry magazine photographer Tuan Bui.