A Conversation With Chef Anthony Martin of Chicago's Tru

A Conversation With Chef Anthony Martin of Chicago's Tru

Pursuitist |
Oct 18, 2016

Chicago is home to the world-renowned restaurant Tru, a fine-dining experience nestled in an art-filled destination. The ambience is inviting and modern, as you dine surrounded by the works by Gerhard Richter, Peter Halley and Andy Warhol. The artistic creativity also flows elegantly from the kitchen. With precision and a passion for presentation, Tru inspires guests with sublimely delicious contemporary French cuisine.

Tru’s Executive Chef/Partner Anthony Martin recently spoke with Pursuitist and give us some insights into his history and creative process.

Christopher Parr: Please tell us a little about how your background in the visual arts informs and influences your work in the culinary arts.

Anthony Martin: I have always loved to draw and was planning on going to art school, but when I went to check the school out in Pittsburgh there happened to be a culinary school right next door and I was automatically enthralled. I still draw-by-hand all of my dishes as I am creating them. Having the artistic background allows me to view things from a different perspective, and to create from an aesthetic point of view as well.

CP: Is the Tru menu influenced by its Midwestern location? Specifically, in terms of available ingredients, cultural references or your own Ohio upbringing.

AM: The menu is only influenced by the Midwest in regards that it is more seasonal here than it is out west, like in Las Vegas. But the great thing about Chicago is that the restaurant scene is very open and you do not feel like you have to be tied to one style.

CP: You have an impressive display of contemporary art in the restaurant space. How does the Tru art collection affect the experience of the diner? Do you feel that there is a special relationship between contemporary art and your food, in contrast to artwork from other periods?

AM: The art collection at Tru is very contemporary and very visual and sets the tone for the evening. Guests realize they aren’t going to see basic presentations. My food is unique in style but with a classic foundation.

CP: The service at Tru is seamless, professional and warm. What does service mean at Tru?

AM: Great service is simply anticipating the guest’s needs before they are needed. It is making every guest comfortable. Anyone can pour water. We seek to make an impression.

CP: Magically floating bites, reefs of balanced caviar, fairy-like terrariums, tell us a little about your process of developing the presentation of your plates.

AM: Presentation is a passion and I look for ways to showcase ingredients in a natural way. Sometimes I will spot an ingredient or a serving piece and it automatically dictates what the dish is to be or how the ingredient will be used. I love the element of surprise. I created Levitation to wow our guests at the very beginning of their experience. It reflects the jumping off point of where their evening with us will take them and is the perfect metaphor for where I want to go as a chef– surprising, luxurious, you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it and it hasn’t-been-done-before.

CP: What’s your earliest memory of creating something unique in the kitchen?

AM: My earliest memory is making really original and crazy pancakes with my mom, incorporating sausage, bacon and a multitude of other ingredients. I also used to make salads for her using various cereals as a foundation.

CP: What inspires you when creating and planning your meals?

AM: Nature. The changing of seasons direct both the use of ingredients and also the presentations at Tru. Currently, my English Pea Soup is inspired by fields of blooming lavender.

CP: What is exciting you in the kitchen right now?

AM: White asparagus ice cream.

CP: What, and where, do you eat on your night off in Chicago?

AM: Bub City, and I always order the BBQ Combo. It includes hot links, pulled pork, brisket, coleslaw and pickles.


Tru Reviewed: There is magic in the kitchen of Tru. The impression left after a visit to this Chicago restaurant is an experience of masterfully balanced contrasts. The serene, contemporary dining room eliminates distractions, while cooly preparing you to expect something special.

Executive Chef/Partner Anthony Martin certainly delivers. While there are fun moments of pure culinary showmanship, such as a levitating potato crisp topped with caviar and crème fraîche. The most lasting impression of the experience is the naturalistic exactitude of the presentation. Such care has been taken to build plates that delight the eye and prepare the appetite. Combining modern, precise techniques with organic forms and elements we are reminded that our food, no matter how skillfully and radically transformed by the kitchen is still a product of nature and that origin is respected and invoked in its presentation.

Beautifully composed, tiny glass orbs containing delicate, impeccable bites, suggesting a woodland terrarium.  A glass slab balanced on a halved log holds a fragrant trio of Cervena venison, black trumpet faro and gooseberry puree. This, pared with a wine rich in leather, surrounds the senses with a warm, hunting lodge atmosphere: curious to experience in the clean modern space.

The flavors of the meal are fascinating in their complexity and subtlety. The mind and tastebuds are continually and playfully tested with contrasting textures: a crackling shell, a luxurious melt, a brittle airiness, a disappearing foam with lingering richness.

Compared to the bustling Alinea, the innovative Tru is a cozy, quiet fine-dining destination ideal for special occasions and private moments. Like our meal, the waitstaff at Tru is remarkable: personable, attentive and phenomenal.

Tru is Pursuitist Platinum.

Tru Restaurant
676 N. St. Clair Street
Chicago, IL 60611
312-202-0001
http://www.trurestaurant.com

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-907-7347

You May Also Like...

How To
Drink Your Breakfast
Apr 21, 2017

Too many of us skip breakfast. Maybe it’s because we are rushing out the door, don’t have an…

read more >
How To
#SavortheSummer (Flavors)
Sep 1, 2016

It’s sad but true - the summer is coming to an end. While we here at Lettuce are bummed that our…

read more >

Recent Posts

In The Restaurants
New Additions to the Windy City Smokeout 2018 Lineup are Here!
Feb 20, 2018

Announcing three new acts to the Windy City Smokeout music lineup! Midland returns, performing on…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Now Serving: Naoki’s Fried Chicken
Feb 19, 2018

When the winter starts to get the best of you, fried chicken is always the answer. Bonus points if…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Presidents Day 2018
Feb 16, 2018

Enjoy your long weekend on Presidents Day (Monday, February 19) by staying up late, sleeping in and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Trending Now: Emochi at Sushi-san
Feb 15, 2018

Sushi-san is now open in Chicago's River North and if you've checked Instagram lately you may be…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Eat Lunch
Feb 15, 2018

For that one hour escape from your office, you want to make sure to make most of your lunch hour.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Lettuce in Love: Weddings with Lettuce Parties
Feb 13, 2018

It's almost Valentine's Day and love is in the air. Believe it or not it's a tale as old as time (or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 New Dishes to Try with Your $25 Holiday Bonus
Feb 12, 2018

If you received a $25 Holiday Bonus during the Lettuce Entertain You Gift Card Promotion, pick a…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your New Happy Hour Destination: M Street Kitchen
Feb 10, 2018

Calling all of our friends in Cali! Do you like happy hour deals just blocks from the beach? Well,…

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Few of Our Favorite Pizzas for National Pizza Day
Feb 9, 2018

There's a food holiday out there for everything but today (February 9) is National Pizza Day and we…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to go on Valentine’s Day 2018
Feb 4, 2018

Have you made your Valentine's Day plans yet? It's right around the corner and there's lots of…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Mardi Gras 2018: Let the good times roll!
Feb 4, 2018

It's that time of the year again to don your favorite feathered mask and live it up like you're in…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Valentine’s Day Dishes Designed for Two
Feb 1, 2018

February 14 marks a day when it's appropriate, if not preferred, to share your food "Lady and the…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now

Lettuce on Instagram

Checkout our feed @lettuceentertainyou!