It takes a special kind of drive to go from home economics to Alinea to your own four-star restaurant in one of the hottest food towns in the country. But that’s the story of Curtis Duffy. An Ohio native with a Colorado childhood, Duffy found his calling at the unlikely age of 14, when a home economics teacher inspired him to become a chef. Duffy went on to earn his Associates Degree in Applied Science from Ohio State before beginning his career in cooking at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
In 2000, Duffy made one of many impressive leaps, this time from the golfing greens to a temple of Chicago dining, Charlie Trotter’s, where he worked as a chef for three years. Next came Trio, where the rapidly ascending Duffy not only worked as a pastry chef, but was named “Best Innovative Pastry Chef” by Food & Wine. It was at Trio, working in the pastry department, that Duffy met fellow chef (and fellow innovator) Grant Achatz. It proved a formative meeting, not only in terms of intellectual resonance, but professional direction; in 2004, Duffy was the opening chef de cuisine at Alinea.
In 2008, Duffy made another definitive move, this time to Avenues, where the chef quickly garnered accolades for his pure, flavorful, conceptually playful cuisine. Beyond the constellation of stars and diamonds that quickly descended upon chef and restaurant (including a perfect Five-Diamond rating from AAA), Duffy was most recently recognized as a 2011 StarChefs.com Chicago Rising Star Chef. But even if he can easily consider himself “risen” at this point in his career, Duffy continues to make leaps and bounds at the creative forefront the industry.