2011 Chicago Rising Star Chef Dirk Flanigan took the fast(er) track to cooking. Skipping culinary school completely, Flanigan dove straight into the kitchen trenches with dishwashing. His hands weren’t in the suds for long. After honing his skills at the Ritz Carlton and La Tour, Flanigan attracted attention for his creative and passionate cooking at Meritage, where he earned three stars from Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune, as well as recognition from Chicago Magazine.
Rapidly climbing the ranks, Flanigan was clearly on a breakneck pace in career development. Case in point, while at Meritage, Flanigan also directed the kitchen at Echo as chef de cuisine and, during his tenure, the restaurant won accolades from the Chicago Tribune, including “Best New Restaurant 2000.” Executive roles at Blue Fin and Blue Plate primed Flanigan to open his own restaurant, The Gage, in 2007. Since opening, The Gage and its upscale comfort food menu has established itself as a dining highlight of Michigan Avenue in Chicago—and Flanigan as a prodigious participant in the city’s culinary landscape.
Flanigan garnered even more media attention with Henri, drawing inspiration for the restaurant’s dishes from its namesake, famed architect Louis Henri Sullivan. Since its August 2010 opening, Henri has received high praise for its cuisine, décor, and service from the Chicago Tribune (three stars), Chicago Sun-Times (three stars), Time Out Chicago (three stars), Chicago Magazine’s Dish, Chicago Social (three stars)—cementing Flanigan as a rapid and consistent success in the eyes of critics, chefs, and diners alike.