All executive chefs are part artist, part general, working a jazz musician’s hours with an athlete’s stamina. What distinguishes them from each other is where they come from and how they apply what they’ve learned to the task at hand.
SideDoor’s Executive Chef Vic Newgren grew up in Chicago’s south suburbs. He brings enthusiasm and confidence based on solid professional experience to his role at the new River North gastropub.
Fresh from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Vic headed to New York City where he landed a job as banquet cook at the Waldorf Astoria. He returned to his hometown to learn a wide range of cuisines by working in a variety of settings. He helped Bill Dugan open Fish Guy Market. As grill master at Brio, he familiarized himself with the restaurant’s Spanish food. Taking a symbolic trip across the Mediterranean, he prepared innovative Moroccan fare as sous chef of Tizi Melloul.
Vic entered the world of fine dining when he joined the staff of Lakeview Supper Club as executive chef. Soon he was given the opportunity, first as sous chef and then executive chef, to collaborate with Michael Kornick developing MK North’s seasonally driven menu. He honed his kitchen management, organizational and training skills — and even called on his mechanical aptitude to repair equipment — serving as executive chef of Calihan Catering.
In 2005, as co-chef and co-owner, Vic designed and developed his own New American restaurant, Copperblue in Streeterville. His efforts helped land a three star rating from the Chicago Tribune’s Food Critic Phil Vettel.
Vic became executive chef of the famous Chicago dining landmark, Lawry’s The Prime Rib, three years later. Today, he leads the culinary effort at SideDoor where he is front and center in the gastropub’s impressive display kitchen. “I’m having a great time breaking out the pots and pans again and coming up with some really tasty food,” says Vic. At SideDoor, this beef loving Chicago native uses his experience and creativity, based on a thorough understanding of the Midwestern palate, to bring his guests delicious seasonal dishes in a truly unique setting.
When Vic’s not cooking, the South Loop resident spends as much time as he can with his sons, Ethan and Aaron.