Rising Star Chef Kendal Duque of The Chicago Firehouse - Biography

Chicago, IL

November 2011

Kendal Duque was on the path to a life in academia (a biochemistry degree from UPenn and a literature MFA from UC Berkeley, with plans to head to Harvard for a PhD), when Berkeley cooking culture sucked him in and inspired a sharp turn into the world of food.

Duque was born in Quito, Ecuador, to a family with a strong food culture—his grandmother was considered one of the city’s best cooks—and it was Duque’s desire to be a better home cook that led him to attend Peter Kump’s Cooking School in New York after finishing at Berkeley. After graduating school he took a position with Julian Serrano at Masa’s and never looked back. Two years later Duque relocated to Chicago, where he worked with Jean Joho at Everest and, the following year, opened Tru with Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand as sous chef.

Duque spent a summer staging at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, then returned to the United States and took a position at Union Pacific with Rocco DiSpirito. From there he returned to Chicago as sous chef at NoMi in the Park Hyatt, under Chef Sandro Gamba. Duque’s next step was a chef de cuisine position at the Union League Club, and a reunion with Emmanual Nony, formerly of NoMi, for the creation and opening of Sepia, where he won a 2008 StarChefs.com Rising Stars Award. And in fall 2010 Duque left Sepia to open his first solo venture, Chicago Firehouse.