Having earned Travelle three stars from the Chicago Tribune and a Michelin star while running Chicago’s TRU restaurant, Tim Graham is an acknowledged rising star in America’s culinary landscape. Recently rated ‘Best New Restaurant’ by Chicago Magazine in 2014, Travelle’s Chef Graham boasts contemporary Mediterranean cuisine, taking diners on a journey that explores the region’s renowned flavors— from the shores of Southern France to the spice markets in Turkey. “I’ve always been intrigued by the notion that Mediterranean cuisine can truly be inspired by the 21 distinct countries that border the sea,” says Graham, who recently won the Cochon 555 Chicago competition in April 2014. “With Travelle, I want our diners to experience a culinary journey that offers exciting ports of calls.”
While studying biochemistry at the University of Missouri, Graham worked as a line cook at a local restaurant. The early culinary experience proved to be a turning point as he switched majors and graduated in 2000 with a degree in Food Science.
Chef Graham began his culinary career at Les Bourgeois in Rocheport, MO. The small French bistro, attached to a winery located on the bluffs of the Missouri river, opened Graham’s eyes to his passion for the restaurant business. Intent on further pursuing his culinary aspirations, Graham enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, VT. As fate would have it, the school’s program presented Graham with the opportunity to travel to Chicago where he completed a six-month internship at the fine- dining restaurant, TRU. Following experiences in Milwaukee and on the West Coast, Chef Graham desired the professionalism and reputation of TRU and returned to the Chicago restaurant in 2003.
Under the influence of TRU’s great chefs, Graham refined his technique and mastered all nine work stations in the kitchen. Over the next four years, he steadily climbed TRU’s ranks, holding the position of chef de cuisine before eventually being named executive chef of the Mobil Four Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant. Under Chef Graham’s leadership, TRU received four-star reviews from Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago Magazine among others.
In early 2010, LEYE founder Rich Melman asked Graham to join forces with internationally-acclaimed French Chef Joho as executive chef of the bistro-style French restaurant Brasserie Jo. Later that year, when RJ and Jerrod Melman took over the Brasserie Jo space to make room for a new French concept, Graham was an instrumental member of the culinary team that was intent on reintroducing French cuisine to a whole new generation of diners. Paris Club was a large switch for Graham—cover counts were regularly 600-800 people with a large banquet space booked more often than not. Overseeing a kitchen of 55+ employees reinforced his appreciation of developing a strong management team. Since February 2011, Chicagoans and high profile celebrities alike raved about Graham’s approachable French food offered in a casual, urban setting.