Phil Stefani's 437 Rush
Chef Christian Fantoni, executive chef of Filini in Chicago, developed a passion for Northern Italian cuisine at an early age with his culinary fairytale upbringing. As the son of the cook for an Italian prince in Bergamo, Italy, Chef Fantoni learned the importance of creating a complete dining experience in addition to preparing mouthwatering food. “I came to the United States from Italy without speaking a word of English. I learned not only the language but how to translate my traditional recipes for the American palate. I wanted to honor the traditions and prestige of the American restaurant scene but stay true to my country’s cuisine,” says Chef Fantoni.
After graduating from the Technical and Professional Culinary School in his hometown of Bergamo, Italy, Chef Fantoni moved to New York City in 1994. He worked in esteemed kitchens such as Le Bernadin in 1999 and Le Cirque for almost four years until 2003. He then served as executive chef at Fiamma Osteria where his revamped menu is accredited with maintaining the restaurant Michelin star rating in 2007.
From his experiences, Chef Fantoni learned the art of precision at Le Bernadin and the passion for guest hospitality from Le Cirque owner, Sirio Maccioni. Chef Fantoni experienced the importance of making all guests feel welcome at Le Cirque from knowing customers by name to finding a spiny lobster for a special request for actor Robert DiNiro. Chef Fantoni has also cooked at the James Beard House and aided in hosting holiday parties with celebrity chef Mario Batali. After moving to Chicago in 2008, Chef Fantoni served as executive chef for Bice Restaurant as well as gained corporate chef experience with Portillo Restaurant Group.