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Chicago Gourmet - bio: Keith Willis
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Keith Willis

SugarToad Restaurant at the Hotel Arista

Keith Willis is the new chef at SugarToad, a celebrated restaurant in the Hotel Arista in Naperville. SugarToad’s trademark is fresh and sustainable foods, working in concert with local growers to provide the freshest dining experience for its customers. 

Keith has always had a passion for food. And upon graduation from Kendall College in 1987, a career was born – a career that has spanned the globe and found him in some of the greatest kitchens in the world. 
Fresh out of school, our globe-trotting chef spent a year in France and England, working under the tutelage of master European artisans. Back in the states, he spent the next five years honing his craft in a series of four-star restaurants with more legendary culinary figures, including:   celebrity Chef Joachin Splichal, eventually serving as his morning Sous Chef; Chef Charlie Trotter at the famous Chicago eatery; and Chef Thomas Keller at French Laundry, whom Keith still considers to be his biggest culinary influence.
His most recent post was as Executive Chef at the Rox City Grill in the Hotel Baker in St. Charles. Other notable achievements include being awarded best restaurant in Naperville by Chicago Magazine, for his work at La Piazza Restaurant, and inclusion in a “Where are they Now?” feature in Wine Spectator Magazine on Thomas Keller protégés.
Keith sums up his philosophy this way. “It’s to bring joy and excitement to our guests through constant creativity. It’s about exploring both modern and traditional methods and techniques, and fusing both through new explorations and experiences. And especially to respect nature and the bounty it provides us; respecting the seasons and the host of suppliers, farmers and landlords, who endlessly work on our behalf. “

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