In the winter of 2011, Nugent and his team opened his eagerly anticipated first restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, goosefoot, a modern fine-dining BYOB concept. Nugent grew up in a restaurant family in Endicott, New York. The loss of his mother at the age of eleven, and his father, a decorated Vietnam veteran who was unable to care for Nugent, tested his will tremendously in his formative years. He somehow endured and ended up cooking and living with chef John Daly at the acclaimed Drovers Inn, an upscale classic French Restaurant in Vestal, New York.
Upon graduating from high school, Nugent further pursued his culinary interests and enrolled in the Johnson and Wales University, College of Culinary Arts in Providence, Rhode Island, Chef Daly’s alma mater, where his passion for creative, forward-thinking food took root. After graduating, he completed several stages at many fine restaurants throughout the world, including Boston’s Radius, and Tru, Grace, and Zealous in Chicago. In 2009, Nugent was invited by two-Michelin star chef John Campbell to spend time in his kitchen at The Vineyard at Stockcross, located in England. Chef Nugent worked at some of the city’s finest restaurants such as Prairie, Mid-America Club, MK, and Park Avenue Café, and fine-tuned his culinary crafts under such highly acclaimed chefs as Stephen Langlois, Andre Bienvenu, James Beard award winners Rick Tramonto, David Burke, Michael Schlow and Michael Kornick. Often described as “delicious,” “serious,” and “beautifully presented and without pretension,” Chef Nugent’s cuisine has received rave reviews and he is certainly happy that his cooking style is favorably recognized by both critics and clientele.
In February of 2009, the sudden and unexpected loss of Chris’s brother John, a highly decorated 16-year veteran of the Dewitt County Police Department in New York, was devastating. From this day forward his life changed forever. Nugent made a promise he would not waste another day cooking unless it was food with great culinary vision and artistry. “Each day we are given is a blessing,” and he intended on making each one count. “2009 was the worst year of my life. There is nothing that can prepare you for the unexpected loss of family,” states Nugent. “Cooking has always been what’s comforted me in difficult times. Ironically, 2009 was probably the most important year of my career, it gives new meaning to the phrase ‘bittersweet’”. In 2005, Nugent accepted the position of executive chef at Les Nomades in Chicago, Illinois, where he flourished. His accolades included Zagat Survey “Number one for food in Chicago”, 2010/2011. Under Nugent’s leadership, Les Nomades received ‘four stars’ from the celebrate Mobil Travel/Forbes Guide, and AAA ‘Four Diamond Award’, 2005 through 2011. Chicago Tribune Dining Awards ‘Best Classic Restaurant,’ Phil Vettel, 2011 – Chicago Sun-Times Restaurant of the Year, Pat Bruno 2010 – James Beard ‘Best Chef-Great Lakes’ semi-finalist, 2010 and 2011. Phil Vettel awarded chef Nugent ‘four stars’ in the Chicago Tribune, and Pat Bruno, Chicago Sun-Times, ‘three and a half stars’ in 2009. Chef Nugent received ‘three and a half stars’ from Chicago Magazine and was awarded ‘Rising Star Chef of the Year’ from Starchefs.com Magazine in 2008. Nugent’s first fan, Sherman Kaplan of North Shore Magazine, gave him a perfect ‘K-Rating’ of ’20/20′ in 2005.
Chef Nugent’s first executive chef position was at Bêtise in Wilmette, Illinois in 2001. Nancy Brussat, owner, welcomed Nugent’s culinary philosophy of pure, clean flavors that are decisive, yet refined. Nancy’s passion for food and wine provided Nugent with the perfect platform to create his vision of food. Each year he dedicates time and resources to several neighborhood organizations around the city of Chicago, as well as a number of local and national philanthropic missions. He is on the Common Threads Chef Advisor Board, a non-profit organization that teaches children to embrace their culture and the cultural diversity that surrounds them.