Niall Campbell

Niall Campbell

firefly grill


Experience: Last Unicorn, Waterville, Maine; Alden Camps, Oakland, Maine; the Bread Box Café, Waterville, Maine; the Blue Macaw, Vieques, Puerto Rico; Larkcreek Inn, Larkpsur, California

How he got into the food business: Working as a dishwasher at the Last Unicorn to pay the bills and eat during high school. "Money was tight when I was growing up; I grew up on a dairy farm before moving out on my own at 16. I was home alone a lot as a kid & experimented with what little we had in the kitchen, that’s where I got the bug. But when I got the dishwasher job, I got fed and I got a paycheck, it was a necessity."

Biggest influences: Rick Gallup, who started the Last Unicorn. "Rick is a monster in the kitchen. He taught me to not get in the way of great ingredients, to not be afraid to push myself & to always keep my menu fresh and new. At Firefly, we change our menu every day, I got that from Rick.”

Memorable cooking experience: Cooking for my wife for the first time. She was a tough nut to crack, but when I made her a lobster, mango and avocado salad with the Puerto Rican sun setting in the background, I think she was ready to marry right then.

What his next restaurant would be: A taco shack on the beach in Costa Rica. My wife and I bought a small farm in Pavones on the Pacific Coast. We hope to someday retire there, and feed all of the surfers.

Favorite cheap eat: Big Star, Wicker Park, Chicago. "Their Sonoran Hot Dog is money – I love it!”

Favorite cookbook: Bouchon, Thomas Keller. "That guy has style and unbelievable finesse.”

My Cooking Philosophy: "Don’t get in the way of great ingredients, keep it simple and let them speak for themselves.”

Millennium Park   |   Sept 28 - 30