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Chicago Gourmet - bio: William Johnson
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William Johnson

Filini Bar & Restaurant

Growing up in Brooklyn, Chef William Johnson developed a passion for cooking at an early age. He enrolled in the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) during high school and later continued his culinary arts studies at Johnson and Wales University in Providence. A few years later, he returned to his hometown to work alongside the talents of Michael White and Fabio Trabocchi at renowned New York City restaurants such as Fiamma Osteria, Vento Trattoria, and Alto Restaurant. It was there, learning to cook with esteemed Italian-trained chefs, that he began his Italian transformation, learning everything about the kitchen: visiting the markets to choose the best produce, making pasta by hand, creating fragrant sauces, scaling and filleting Mediterranean fish, and butchering meat.

In 2009, he accepted the position of Chef de Cuisine at James Beard Award winner Barbara Lynch's Italian-inspired restaurant Sportello in Boston. Chef Johnson spent the next two years mastering his craft in simple, market-driven Italian dishes. With his technique firmly rooted in respect for Italy’s culinary traditions, Chef Johnson moved to Chicago in 2011 to open Filini Bar and Restaurant as Sous Chef. He was promoted to Chef de Restaurant the following year.

Chef Johnson’s passion and love for Italian food translates to each dish at Filini, where he utilizes the highest quality, freshest ingredients not only from Italian imports, but local farms as well. He attributes his commitment to seasonal ingredients to his time in Boston where he learned that “fresh and simple” is the hallmark of Italian cuisine. With a variety of refined and inventive Italian dishes, guests can expect handmade pastas, seasonal risotto, fresh house-cured salmon, and braised octopus, as well as adventurous multi-coursed tasting menus that change each weekend.

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