EXECUTIVE CHEF JOHN B. SHIELDS AND EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF KAREN URIE SHIELDS RETURN TO CHICAGO TO LAUNCH SMYTH + THE LOYALIST IN LATE SPRING 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2016


EXECUTIVE CHEF JOHN B. SHIELDS AND EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF KAREN URIE SHIELDS 
RETURN TO CHICAGO TO LAUNCH SMYTH + THE LOYALIST IN LATE SPRING 2016

Husband and Wife Chef Team Return to City that Launched Their Careers with Two New Original Concepts

(CHICAGO, IL – January 6, 2016) – Chefs John B. Shields and Karen Urie Shields will unveil two original restaurant and lounge concepts Smyth + The Loyalist (177 North Ada Street) in Chicago’s West Loop restaurant community in late spring 2016. At Smyth, the Shields will share a deeply personal vision that reimagines the expectations of a tasting menu experience. Simultaneously, the chefs will present The Loyalist, a sibling lounge located downstairs, that has its own identity and story to tell. The openings represent for the husband and wife team a journey ten years in the making—one that traverses the country, touching on the importance of family, career, and curiosity.

THE CHICAGO HOMECOMING 

With over 30 years combined experience, John B. Shields and Karen Urie Shields are considered to have two of the strongest reputations for culinary innovation in the country. John spent two years working as Sous Chef for Charlie Trotter’s in addition to two years as Sous Chef for Chef Grant Achatz at Alinea; he is unique in serving in this same capacity for two of the city’s most accomplished, yet distinct, fine dining establishments. Karen worked at Charlie Trotter’s—where she and John met—and was Head Pastry Chef for the last two of her five years with the restaurant. Previously, she served as Pastry Sous Chef under James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef Gale Gand at Tru for two years.

In 2008, John and Karen turned down an offer to lead the opening of a Charlie Trotter restaurant in Las Vegas, and instead took a bold chance to open a little-known restaurant in the countryside of Southwestern Virginia. Around this time, they fell further in love and married. The Shields quickly gained national attention, and in June of 2009, The New York Times published a glowing review of their restaurant, Town House, identifying “the flavors are precise and exciting.” A year later, John was named a 2010 “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine magazine and Karen was named a “Rising Star” by Star Chefs. 

After five successful years as Executive Chef and Executive Pastry Chef at Town House and Riverstead Inn, John and Karen made the extraordinary decision to return Chicago with their two daughters, bringing back the richness of their collaboration in all its inspirations.

SMYTH

At Smyth, John and Karen will present an original tasting menu experience in a relaxed, warm atmosphere at an approachable price point. The 40 seat establishment will offer an eight course tasting menu for around $135. A 16-course tasting menu also will be available for $220 for those guests desiring an expanded experience. Guests will feel as though they have entered the Shields’ own home, where humility, genuineness, graciousness and a friendly air of casualness are the hallmarks of the service philosophy. 

John and Karen will rely on an exclusive custom collaboration with a 20-acre Illinois farm for much of the restaurant’s produce, herbs and flowers and on exceptional artisans across the country for fine ingredients and products.

In their approach, John and Karen express nature creatively through food. They seek simplicity, first in obtaining pristine product, and then in ensuring its purity. The chefs also focus on origin, history, and growth pattern, but look to nature for cues as they play with flavor, texture, composition and temperature.

Yet the chefs are more interested in seeking out inspiration than in meting out formula. Dishes have high notes and low notes, sometimes subtle and often suggestive; frequently they evoke nostalgia and emotion. Presentations can also display a striking minimalism—a loose consciousness on the plate—that is at once playful and evocative of nature.

Their fascination with the farm and sea began on their road to Chicago. John grew up near the ocean in Florida, which left an indelible mark on the chef, as evidenced in how he extracts umami from wild coastal plants and seaweeds to boost savory features. The couple’s five year journey to the rural mountains and farmlands of Virginia also impacted their sensitivity to indigenous product in a uniquely profound way.

According to the chefs, the restaurant’s name, Smyth, represents their beginnings. The Shields left posts at two of the nation’s most significant five star restaurants and set off for Smyth, a small county located at the intersections of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. There the Shields grew as collaborators in the kitchen, and eventually started their own family. After five years, they returned to Chicago, fascinated by what they experienced in rural America with a stronger appreciation of the ‘informal formality’ of their approach to the guests they served at their Virginia inn, bringing back all they learned from Smyth county. 

THE LOYALIST

The Loyalist is the Shield’s lounge and bar, and serves as the perfect complement to its upstairs neighbor. Classic cocktails and casual, thoughtful fare will feature many of the same ingredients, attention to detail and playful techniques as its upper floor sibling restaurant, Smyth, but will offer a wholly unique experience and different menu at lower price point in a more casual setting.

The name ‘The Loyalist’ has a double meaning.  The establishment is named for the chefs’ loyalty to elevating classic cooking techniques. Yet the name also reflects the chefs’ sincere sense of loyalty to the guests that return to their new favorite neighborhood lounge and bar every week for a wholly original experience every time.

The Shields are excited to unveil additional information on the concept for The Loyalist in the coming months.

In the meantime, stay connected with the chefs online at:

 

Website
http://smythchicago.com/


Instagram
https://www.Instagram.com/ChefJohnShields

https://www.Instagram.com/Smyth_Loyalist

 

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/smythchicago/?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/The-Loyalist-1667973020116357/

 

Twitter
https://twitter.com/chefjohnshields

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Chip Bouchard Vassil | Managing Director and Partner

Wagstaff Worldwide

311 W. Superior St. Ste. 309 | Chicago, IL 60654

p. 312.943.6900 | f. 312.943.6910

e: chip@wagstaffworldwide.com | www.wagstaffworldwide.com

Los Angeles • Chicago • San Francisco • New York • Aspen

 

Contact 

Chip Bouchard Vassil | Managing Director and Partner

Wagstaff Worldwide

311 W. Superior St. Ste. 309 | Chicago, IL 60654

p. 312.943.6900 | f. 312.943.6910

e: chip@wagstaffworldwide.com | www.wagstaffworldwide.com