The restaurateur who Chicago loves to hate agreed to a rare interview about his career, his empire and why he shies away from the spotlight. Beginning as a chef with a bit of an attention span issue, Sodikoff spent his early career bouncing from restaurant to restaurant before receiving a call from Rich Melman, president of Lettuce Entertain You, that changed his life. Melman invited Sodikoff to work in Lettuce’s test kitchen, an opportunity that would ignite the rest of his career, “Rich provided the final piece of the puzzle,” he told Time Out. “Without Rich, nothing would work in my company…How I process what I want to get out of a restaurant is a direct reflection of him and his beliefs.”
Sodikoff goes on to discuss plans of expanding his already large restaurant empire (Gilt Bar, Doughnut Vault, Maude’s Liquor Bar, Au Cheval and Bavette’s Bar and Beouf) to a deli in River North that is scheduled to open soon, a barbeque joint in the West Loop with a Japanese noodle bar underneath, a cheeseburger window in Bavette’s and a pizzeria. Those are just his plans for the next year or so. It is no wonder the man is admired for his consistency, envied for his success and remains one of the biggest mysteries in the Chicago food circuit.
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