Phillip Foss, Chef and Owner of EL Ideas, turns preconceived notions of elite dining upside down with his restaurant hidden on a dead-end street and next to a train yard in Chicago’s Douglas Park neighborhood. The twenty-six seat dining room opens to the kitchen, and guests are invited and encouraged to visit and interact with the chefs preparing their dinner. The relaxed atmosphere beguiles the precision and attention given to each course, where classical cooking techniques are combined with innovative ideas. EL Ideas received its first Michelin-star in 2013, received three stars from the Chicago Tribune, and was also named a Chicago Magazine “Best New Restaurant” and Chicago Reader’s “Best Restaurant of 2011.”
Foss began his career in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a short order cook. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1991, he moved to New York City and honed his skills in New York Times four-star restaurants such as Lafayette in the Drake Swiss Hotel, The Quilted Giraffe, and most notably, Le Cirque Restaurant. The only culinary holdover in the move from the original Le Cirque to the second incarnation, Chef Foss had the honor of being able to cook for several presidents, countless dignitaries and celebrities, and Pope John Paul II.
Upon departing Le Cirque, Foss began what could best be described as a nomadic culinary existence. His first stop was in Vence, France where he fulfilled his dream of staging in a European kitchen, and did so under the wings of Michelin two-star chef, Jacques Maximin. Foss returned to America as the chef of Bistrot Margot in Chicago, where he spent the next two years. From there, Foss spent the better part of a year in Brazil, and the next two years on the island of Maui at the Four Seasons, Wailea. From here, Foss jumped the globe and spent the next two years in Israel as the chef of the fine-dining La Regence in the King David Hotel. A quick stop at the 5 diamond Newport Room in Bermuda, brought Chef Foss back to Chicago, where he landed at the yet to open Lockwood Restaurant in The Palmer House. Since parting ways with the corporate structure, Foss went on to pioneer the burgeoning Chicago food truck scene with his Meatyballs Mobile. Less than a year after launching the food truck, he opened the one-of-a-kind, EL Ideas in the very kitchen he was using for the food truck.