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In the debut of’s foodie segment, “Chop Suey, Custard Pie and Korn” we decided to start off with one of the hottest names in the global culinary world today. Chef Curtis Duffy made a splash as chef de cuisine at Chicago’s famed Alinea.   But in the early 2010’s, he decided to branch off on his own, launching a restaurant project that would ultimately lead to 3 coveted Michelin stars, worldwide acclaim…and, unwittingly, infamy.

As Duffy and his partner moved toward the grand opening of “Grace”, a couple of local print reporters decided to follow the two as they navigated Chicago’s cutthroat culinary scene.  But instead of turning out a story about the latest master restaurateur, they ended up stumbling upon a story of havoc and heartbreak, but ultimately emotional, mental, physical and professional triumph.

I debated telling you what happened many years ago when Duffy was just a boy.  In the end, I decided the story is best shared by the those same two reporters, in the raved-about Netflix documentary, “For Grace”.   I would highly suggest watching the film before you read any more/watch the attached interview.

Should you decide to read on… A little background on our meeting.   Duffy and his partner, the hilarious Michael Muser (who is also featured in “For Grace”) are, at least to the newbie on the scene, two of the most accurate living definitions of the word “antithesis”.  Muser is the human form of the Energizer Bunny — a ball of energy, crazy, hilarious.  Duffy is strikingly handsome, his tattoo ‘sleeve’ –  a visual juxtaposition of his refined persona.  He speaks slowly, and I got the sense he’s careful with how much he gives of himself.  That’s not to say he was aloof or private.  We talked about his kids, his personal life, but I definitely felt he’s the kind of guy you need to be out with in a less formal situation (i.e. without two cameras rolling, lights blazing, mics capturing every utterance, etc. etc.) to really get to know him.   I initially wanted to do the interview with Duffy because he’s a metal guy.  You hear about that in the doc, and we expand upon it in our chat. In fact, my crew and I were headed off after our interview with Duffy to Chicago’s Bottom Lounge to see (and interview) my favorite band — Enter Shikari.  We’d hoped Duffy would be able to tear himself away from the kitchen for a bit to join us, but timing wasn’t in favor. (I’ll make sure he gets tix next time they’re around!)

As we’ve all seen in the last 10-15 years — chefs are the new ‘rock stars’.  They work extreme hours in physically challenging environments.  They’re constantly under a microscope, their ‘public personalities’ being picked apart as much as their nightly creations.   And just like rock stars, they’re ‘on the road’; in the kitchen from morning til…morning.  They don’t see their wives, their kids…

But, if anyone can handle this — it’s Chef Curtis Duffy.  Watch “For Grace”.  Check out our chat, and if you’re every able to — make a reservation at Grace in Chicago (and tell them Juliet sent you).