2011 Chicago Rising Star Chef Shin Thompson is living out a chef’s fantasy: on the brink of an economic crisis, he opened a fine-dining BYO restaurant with 28 seats and proceeded to serve exactly what he wanted to for 30 to 50 covers a night. Economic crisis weathered, at the age of 31, Thompson’s Bonsoirée earned a Michelin star. Chalk it up to a blend of ingenuity and perfectionism or to a brand of risk-taking bordering on reckless insolence—if you ask Thompson, he’ll say he just goes with the flow.
Thompson was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, spent most of his childhood in Japan, and was inculcated with a love for street food early on, both from these dual island cultures and the internationalism of his father’s career with United Airlines. Thompson graduated with a culinary arts degree from Kendall College in Chicago in 2001 and earned a second degree in Hospitality Management from Chicago’s Roosevelt University. In the years that followed, Thompson culled together a résumé full of fine-dining kitchens and hotels across the United States.
Thompson returned to Chicago and began hosting a series of underground dining parties in 2005, which led to the opening of Bonsoirée in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Thompson’s interpretation of French and Japanese fare in degustation format quickly garnered attention, and in 2008, Food & Wine included the restaurant in its “Go List” of “Best Local Dining Destinations in the World.”
In addition to a newly awarded Michelin star, Bonsoireé received a three-star rating from the Chicago Tribune, and it was named one of the “Best American BYO Restaurants” by Travel + Leisure. Furthermore, Thompson has been invited twice to prepare dinner for the James Beard Foundation. Today, his friendly neighborhood BYO still offers monthly “Underground” dinners in addition to “No Menu Sundays,” a catering service, and online “Underground” wine recommendations.