Johnny Besch possessed the makings of a chef—unparalelled discipline, an immense appreciation for ingredients, and an unending curiosity for the “why” behind a dish—before he decided to make cooking a career. By the age of ten, Johnny had already spent countless hours cooking with his grandmother and mother as well as in numerous chicagoland restaurants being “babysat” by prep cooks who ultimately taught him how to peel carrots and potatoes. At fifteen, Johnny became fascinated with the old world art of a delicatessen, handling the deli mise en place and charcuterie production at Mike’s Meat Market.
In 2000, Johnny officially made the commitment to the hospitality industry and enrolled at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. During his nine years in the Pacific Northwest, he was sous chef at the fine dining restaurant Epicure and then chef de partie at The Heathman Restaurant & Bar for James Beard award winning and Knight/Master chef Philippe Boulot. A six month break from The Heathman sent Johnny backpacking through Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama where he learned to work with Latin American ingredients and new cooking techniques.
Now, back home to plant his roots and officially hang his hat, Johnny has joined Sancerre Hospitality to open BLVD—a modern American restaurant in the West Loop neighborhood that draws inspiration from Hollywood’s Sunset Blvd circa 1950. Here, Johnny offers a globally inspired menu of shareable plates highlighting classic dishes and familiar flavors reimagined and served in thoughtful new ways. While always pushing the boundaries with composition and technique, Johnny places the utmost importance on consistency, as well as sourcing wholesome and authentic ingredients—working to bridge the gap between simple, pure cooking and playful, thought-provoking craftsmanship.