NEW ORLEANS - Life in Chicago for award-winning chef Rick Tramonto was great except for all the snow, so after 25 years he's leaving behind his restaurants and heading for New Orleans.
Tramonto is starting a new restaurant and a business with his longtime friend, Louisiana chef John Folse.
"There were a lot of reasons," Tramonto said of his decision. "I turned 50 this year and started to review some things in my life."
Folse, of Donaldsonville, and Tramonto are starting Home on the Range, a restaurant development company. The company's first project will be Restaurant R'evolution, which will serve contemporary Creole cuisine, which Folse describes as a mixture of his southern approach and Tramonto's new world style.
"Our philosophies are very similar," said Folse, a noted chef in his own right. "So we got together and had some gumbo and some boudin and just started talking."
Folse, who runs a publishing company, a manufacturing company and several other culinary related businesses, has been out of the restaurant business for 25 years, and has never had a place in the French Quarter, where R'evolution will be. Folse is known as a leading authority on Cajun food, a New Orleans specialty. He cooks at Lafitte's Landing Restaurant in Donaldsonville, La.
"I was out of the restaurant business, but the restaurant business was not out of me," he said. "Now just seemed like the right time."
Tramonto, a James Beard award winner, said he will keep working at his Tramonto's Steak & Seafood in Chicago, and commute for awhile. He had been chef and co-owner of the four-star restaurant Tru, which he left in June.
He said he "could have picked anywhere in the world to go," but a chance to join his old friend and mentor, and the lack of snow New Orleans had to offer was too much.
"As a young chef you think New York, Paris, San Francisco, Chicago," Tramonto said. "And there's always New Orleans and it's always another planet here."
Restaurant R'evolution is set to open in summer 2011.