Donald Young was the kid who put ketchup on everything he ate. He was still a kid—17—when he began staging under acclaimed chef Roland Liccioni at Le Francais in the Chicago suburbs, uncertain of his future and his feelings for the grueling work. Some 12 years later, Young’s passion for cooking is absolute.
As the chef at Temporis, a Michelin-star, 20-seat restaurant in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, he leads the kitchen in creating progressive American cuisine that draws on his classical French training while exploring change—in seasons, ingredients and techniques. Preservation, fermentation and a hydroponics garden in the basement of the restaurant figure prominently in Young’s 10-course tasting menu, which comes together on the plate in precise, beautiful and often unexpected ways. In the fall of 2018, Temporis was awarded a Michelin star, making Young, 28 at the time, one of the youngest chefs in the United States with one star.
A native of Wauconda, Illinois, Young credits Liccioni for inspiring him to pursue a culinary career. While studying for his associate’s degree at Kendall College, Young followed his mentor to Old Town Brasserie in Chicago and then Miramar Bistro in suburban Highwood, working his way from garde manger to meat cook. In 2010, he headed to the small town of Castres, France, for a six-month internship. There, he immersed himself in the hyperseasonal food culture while learning pastry, ironically enough, at a 22-seat Michelin-star restaurant named Bistrot Saveurs.
Back in Chicago, after a year of paid and unpaid stints, Young heard in late 2011 that Liccioni had joined Les Nomades, where he’d led the kitchen a decade earlier. Young took the first open position there in pastry while working a second job as a brunch cook at another French restaurant. By 2013, he’d worked his way up to chef de cuisine, second to Liccioni. At Les Nomades, Young befriended Sam Plotnick, a fellow young cook who was developing plans for a solo project—the future Temporis. Plotnick left in 2015 to pursue the restaurant while holding pop-up dinners to test the concept. After months of helping with the pop-ups, Young left Les Nomades to join Plotnick at Temporis, which opened in January 2017. Off hours, Young enjoys dining with friends and checking out cocktail and wine bars. He also likes spending it in the Temporis kitchen (he lives a block away), experimenting with corn miso and sourdough starters. He still loves ketchup