Executive Chef Dan Tucker comes to us with significant culinary cache in the Chicago market. It’s a huge town for restaurants, and we love having someone on board who knows the local restaurant scene, and who, best yet, knows food.
Dan came to cooking in his late teens. He enrolled in college, but found that without an educational direction, it was a wasted pursuit. He got a job instead at a local steak house. “I thought I wanted to be a server, but they wanted me to cook,” Dan tells us. “So I ended up in the kitchen. It was something I really enjoyed. I got to the point that I decided I wanted to pursue it seriously as a career.”
He went to work for Biaggi’s, which serves Italian food, and after that, he was sure he wanted to work as a chef professionally. He enrolled in Kendall College to pursue a culinary education, and also found more jobs in different kitchens. After culinary school, he worked at Alinea, which was recently named one of the world’s top 50 restaurants by Restaurant magazine. He worked at Room 21 as Executive Chef, and the same at Sushisamba, which serves Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian food from three different kitchens. The challenge of knowing three different cuisines and three distinct sets of ingredients intrigued him, and helped him build considerable culinary knowledge.
It was there that Dan learned the type of food he loved to make most: great quality ingredients cooked very well. “Fairly simple food done perfectly makes me a happy guy,” Dan tells us. “We have that mandate here at Eddie Merlot’s to use the best ingredients we can find and prepare them meticulously.”
His favorite food to eat? French onion soup. He says he eats it four to five times a week. His favorite food to cook? “I gravitate towards the grill,” Dan says. “My favorite thing to cook is to work with fish at the saute station. It’s a little bit more technical and a bit more difficult. Fish have a very brief window of being cooked. If fish is undercooked, it’s inedible, and if it’s overcooked, it’s inedible.”
Say hi to Dan if you’re visiting our Burr Ridge location.