Millennium Park | Chicago
His grandmother’s passion for hosting large Sunday dinners with his family and cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients plucked from her backyard instilled in him an appreciation not only for creating thoughtful food, but also for sharing that food with others.
Bickelhaupt grew up in Wisconsin, but moved to Chicago less than one day after being hired at Charlie Trotter’s restaurant—an experience he knew not to take for granted, and which he credits as kick-starting his career. Bickelhaupt went on to work in some of the most respected kitchens in Chicago, including Michelin-starred restaurants Alinea and Schwa. Still, Bickelhaupt knew that he was destined to achieve and accomplish more. Accordingly, in 2012, Bickelhaupt took a daring plunge that few young chefs are willing to take: he and his wife, Alexa Welsh, started Sous Rising, an underground supper club. Sous Rising was Bickelhaupt’s brainchild to serve Michelin-quality food in a relaxed, comfortable environment. He didn’t understand why elegant fine dining seemed to be juxtaposed against casual, laid-back settings. To Bickelhaupt, great food and company go hand-in-hand with a warm and approachable atmosphere; that, by definition, is hospitality. After two years of continued support and praise from loyal patrons, as well as local and national media, Bickelhaupt and Welsh decided that it was time to expand their popular underground concept.
In January 2014, 42 grams was warmly welcomed into Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood and immediately received widespread acclaim from The Chicago Tribune, Zagat, Tasting Table, Chicago Magazine, TimeOut Chicago, CS, and more. The restaurant’s name is a riff on the premise that the human soul weighs 21 grams—42 grams being what Bickelhaupt and Welsh give to their guests each evening. With only two seatings per night: the chef’s counter for eight, and a ten-seat communal table, an evening at 42 grams is reminiscent of one at Sous Rising, and feels much like attending an intimate dinner party at a friend’s home. As with most dinner parties, the action centers around the kitchen, which is completely open to the dining room, allowing guests to interact with Bickelhaupt throughout the course of their meal.
Bickelhaupt's food philosophy is to make the complex seem simple. His dishes are raw, natural, and genuine; layered with various textures and hyper-sensitive flavors that are meant to elevate the familiar and evoke fond memories of times past. At 42 grams, Bickelhaupt cooks with a distinct Asian influence and a concentrated emphasis on technique, serving a chef’s tasting menu that features his thoughtful interpretation of new American cuisine.
When Bickelhaupt isn’t behind the counter cooking at 42 grams, he enjoys catching up on movies and eating his way through the city with his wife.