Graham Elliot Bowles
at The Peninsula Chicago
108 East Superior Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 573 6754

Biography »

Antoinette Bruno: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Graham Elliot Bowles: I grew up in a military family, so we traveled all over. My parents were into food and cooked things from the countries we lived in. At 17 I got a job as a busboy. The chef was a Johnson and Wales graduate and encouraged me to go there. I was also in a band at the time and I thought being a chef would be a better career. Later I picked up Charlie Trotter’s cookbook and learned cooking could really be a creative outlet as well.

AB: Do you think your Johnson and Wales education helped lead you into some of the best kitchens in the country? Do you only hire chefs with culinary school backgrounds?
GEB: Not so much. I went to cooking school, but I’m not sure it’s important. It might be different at CIA or elsewhere. I would have gotten more out of staging in Europe. I have the same philosophy about hiring. I have a garde manger that is a poet – it affects the way she touches food. I think you need to fine your voice and express yourself.

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Graham Elliot Bowles
AVENUES | Chicago

A self-proclaimed Navy brat, 28-year-old Chef Graham Elliot Bowles was born in Seattle, but grew up all over the world. He attended Johnson & Wales and was off and running, finding his way into inspiring kitchens around the country, including the Jackson House Inn & Restaurant in Vermont, The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, and then Charlie Trotter’s and Tru in Chicago. Now at Avenues in The Peninsula Chicago, Bowles is honing his own culinary style, a blend of equal parts creativity, technique and aesthetics. Viewing the kitchen as more of a sanctuary or laboratory rather than simply a place of work, Bowles seeks out new ingredients and techniques with zeal. He is constantly looking for a way to surpass every guest’s expectations, cooking with love and creating with an open mind.


Foie-lipops (Foie Gras Lollipops)
Chef Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues at The Peninsula Chicago – Chicago, IL
Adapted by

Yield: 50 Servings


  • ½ lobe Grade-A fresh foie gras (approximately ¾ pound)
  • ½ cup port
  • Salt and pepper
  • 15 sheets gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lollipop sticks


Cut foie gras into 1-inch pieces with a hot knife. Remove as many veins as possible. Put foie in a saucepan over medium heat. Add port, salt and pepper. Cook until foie is cooked through and alcohol is cooked off.

Bloom gelatin in a bowl of cold water. Heat 1 cup of heavy cream in a separate pot and whisk in bloomed gelatin.

Remove ½ cup of foie gras fat from the saucepan. Pour the remainder of foie gras and fat into a blender, adding the cup of cream and gelatin as well. Blend on high, adding more cream if needed for the mixture to blend smoothly. Check seasoning.

Pass blended mixture through a chinois. Fill lollipop molds with mixture and freeze. Insert lollipop sticks and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.


Wine Pairing:
Marc Brédif, Vouvray, Loire France 2002


Interview Cont'd
AB: Can you tell me about working at Mansion on Turtle Creek, Charlie Trotter’s, and Tru?
GEB: The Mansion was my first real experience at that level of fine dining. I was 20 years old. I realized it was a 24-hour operation. So I learned that their attention to detail was quite different from a place that just serves dinner. Michael Kramer (now Executive Chef of McCrady’s in South Carolina) – I worked with him at the Mansion. He was a sous chef there, and he told me what it would take to survive at a place like Trotter’s – how to keep your head down, fold your towel just so, and have your trash can close by.

Working at Trotter’s was a defining moment in my career. Everything you do has to be done at the highest professional level. Each task is just as important as the others. The way you season a plan, sharpen a knife, sweep the floor. Everything has to be in tune. I’d never been in a kitchen like that.

AB: Have you carried that philosophy into your kitchen?
GEB: I did when I went to Tru, the underlying philosophy of achieving excellence, yes, but I take more of a caring parent approach than the commander-in-chief approach.

AB: What is your own philosophy on food and dining?
GEB: All cuisine is a gray area. I like to push the envelope, not break it up. And if it isn’t broke, break it. But that’s not my only motivating force. I like to use some restraint. And the finished product must be delicious.

AB: What are your favorite restaurants –off the beaten path – in Chicago?
GEB: Hot Doug’s. Bijan’s Bistro – for their awesome iceberg wedge with blue cheese. Café Salamera – it’s Peruvian – for their little sandwiches and plantains

AB: What trends do you see emerging in the restaurant industry now?
GEB: Consumers are looking at cuisine as chef-driven.


   Published: November 2005