Paul Virant is the chef and owner of Vie in Western Springs, Ill. and Perennial Virant in Chicago. His philosophy of local, seasonal eating stems from his childhood spent on his family’s
farm in Missouri. He credits his grandmothers, both avid canners, for instilling in him a reverence for local ingredients and serving as the inspiring force behind his becoming a chef.
After graduating with a degree in nutrition from West Virginia Wesleyan College, he enrolled at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, N.Y. Following culinary school, he joined March in New York where he further refined his skills under the tutelage of chefs Wayne Nish and Hilary Gregg. A move to Chicago two years later marked a turning point in his career as he worked at some of the nation’s most famed restaurants, including Charlie Trotter’s, Ambria, Everest and Blackbird.
In 2004, a desire to return to his roots led to his opening of Vie in a nearby suburb of Chicago. Utilizing his methods of canning and preserving, Virant serves up his contemporary American cuisine with a focus on the ingredients – their origin, production and quality. Since opening, the restaurant has garnered regional and national attention, including a three-star review by Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune and a spot on Gayot’s list of Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. In the spring of 2012, Virant’s award-winning fare culminated into the release of his cookbook The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux. It is the first canning manual and cookbook authored by a Michelin-starred chef and restaurant owner and creatively combines the technical aspects of canning with a chef’s expertise on flavor.
He has been featured in the Sun-Times, Time Out Chicago and was named the city’s Best New Chef by Chicago Magazine in 2005. In 2007, he was named among Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs and was a 2011 James Beard Foundation nominee for Best Chef: Great Lakes. He has also appeared on NBC’s Today Show and competed on Food Network’s Iron Chef America.
Prestigious awards to Chef Paul Virant include:
- Best New Chef, Food and Wine Magazine
- Best New Chef, Chicago Magazine
- Jean Banchet Rising Star Chef
- Rising Star Chef, Restaurant Hospitality Magazine
- Rising Star Chef, StarChefs.com