Chef Paul Virant of Vie - Biography

Western Springs, IL

December 2010

2005 Chicago Rising Star Chef Paul Virant has always been driven by his natural curiosity for food, cooking, and the outdoors. As a young boy growing up in Missouri, he foraged for mushrooms with his siblings, preserved fruits and pickled vegetables with his grandmothers, and visited local wineries with his parents. All of this instilled a deep-rooted respect for seasonality and tradition, ultimately shaping him as a chef.

After graduating from Wesleyan College with a Nutrition degree and working in several local kitchens, Virant enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America. While pursuing his culinary degree, he was drawn to the Cascade Mountain Winery where he put his wine knowledge to the test in the vineyards and honed his culinary skills in the kitchen. Culinary degree in hand, Virant left the Hudson Valley and moved to Manhattan where he worked under Wayne Nish and Hilary Gregg at March. Two years later, Virant returned to the heartland to work at Charlie Trotter's and later Ambria. After a brief stint in Honolulu, opening Padovani's Bistro and Wine Bar, Virant made his final return to Chicago. There, he joined the culinary team at Everest, followed by positions at Outpost and Blackbird.

In 2004, Virant fulfilled his life dream of owning his own restaurant, Vie. The menu is strongly influenced by Western European cultures and rustic fare. The menu supports local family farms while at the same time taking advantage of specialty foods from across the globe.

Since opening Vie, Virant has been showered with critical praise. Among other awards, Virant was named among Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2007, and in 2009 Vie was named one of the Top 25 Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the United States by Best Life Magazine. In 2010, Vie was named on of America’s Top 40 Restaurants by Gayot. Virant’s latest project is co-writing a book on canning, which is slated to be published in summer 2012. And he soon hopes to open his second Chicago restaurant.

Related Features