Meet the Chef: Q&A with Terzo Piano’s Tony Mantuano
Posted by Guest on February 23, 2012in Featured - 0 Comments
Terzo Piano, located in the Modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, is known far and wide for its creatively seasonal menus made using local, organic, and sustainably produced ingredients. Bon Appétit is proud to partner with award-winning chef Tony Mantuano to serve visiting art lovers and the greater Chicago community.
In this interview, Tony talks about feeding the Obamas, being on Top Chef Masters, and what it’s like to work at the intersection of food and art:
How does a restaurant in an art museum differ from your restaurants in other venues?
I see Terzo Piano as a blank canvas. We added the color with hospitality and food, and the beautiful views finish the picture. Just like in the galleries, we feel surrounded by art because of the exceptional views of the city.
Does the museum inspire you?
It gives me perspective and makes me think that more things are possible because of how these artists pushed the boundaries. I also love the art-inspired classes and events, such as the recent Dining with Dali cooking demonstration. It’s the perfect blend of a great museum and a great restaurant.
What are your most memorable moments as a chef?
Cooking for the Obamas over the years has been a highlight. They started out as regular customers who always came in on date night. It’s nice to know they still make time for that. Appearing on Top Chef Masters was quite an experience. I made five new friends for life. Some of those chefs have dined here, and the first thing they ask about is the art. I also had the chance to meet and cook for Paul McCartney. He had so many questions about my career. Can you imagine? Paul McCartney was asking about me! It was incredible.
What surprises people most about Terzo Piano?
The relationships we have with our farmers and artisans. The farmer who raises our lamb personally drops it off once a week. We see our vegetable farmers up to three times a week. Using Midwestern ingredients is very important to us. I’ll also let you know that our secret weapon is our desserts. Let’s see if I get in trouble for saying this, but they might be better than Spiaggia.
What’s your most memorable moment at the Art Institute?
While hosting the Eat Out Awards, I had a chance to give a tour and point out my favorite work of art, Francis Bacon’s Figure with Meat. I love showing that off.
Finally, we have to ask what food you can’t live without.
Great olive oil. Now if only we could get olives to grow in Illinois!
Reprinted with permission from the Art Institute’s magazine