Park Hyatt’s NoMI becomes NoMI Kitchen when it reopens June 3

April 11, 2011|by Kevin Pang – Chicago Tribune

NoMI, the French restaurant at the Park Hyatt overlooking Michigan Avenue, has been closed since January. When it emerges from its gut renovations on June 3, it’ll have a name change: NoMI Kitchen.

It’s a shift from the haute and buttoned-up days of founding chefs Sandro Gamba and Christophe David. Ryan LaRoche, an alumnus of Joel Robuchon’s Las Vegas outpost, said the rebranded NoMI Kitchen would emphasize more local ingredients and less rigid presentations.

“NoMI opened at a very different time,” LaRoche told The Stew. “The diner has changed so much that they still want the elegance and creativity, but they don’t want to throw on the suit every time.”

Gone from the menu is imported turbot; local walleye will be used instead. “Cote de boeuf” will be “Bone-in Beef Ribeye,” “pomme puree” becomes “potato puree” and won’t be presented in quenelle form. The sushi and shellfish bar remains, as do their popular weekend brunch.

Like any Culinary Institute of America graduate, LaRoche aspired for the type of fine dining that garners three Michelin stars (NoMI was awarded one star last November).

“I love fine dining because it’s such an art, and I love the technicality of it,” LaRoche said. “But it’s kind of overstayed its welcome with me. The once-a-year diner has become more sparse.”

He emphasized, several times in fact, that simplifying dishes and not printing menus in French doesn’t equate to dumbing down, only removing a certain stuffiness from the dining experience. White tablecloths will be no more in the renovated dining room, for one.

NoMI Kitchen is one of four “lifestyle” components on Park Hyatt Chicago’s revamped seventh floor. It includes NoMI Lounge, NoMI Garden and NoMI Spa.

Meet our Executive Chef Ryan LaRoche

If you could experience any restaurant in the world what would it be and why?  
Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal.  I want to see one of the true originator’s of the whole nose to tail phenomenon.  

What is your favorite food memory?  

I was in Sausalito sitting at some restaurant on the dock with my mom during my internship at Aqua.  I was eating mussels, drinking a Corona and contemplating the future with my mom, best friend and confidante.  Looking back, it was a pivotal moment not only culinary wise, but for my future in this business.

If you weren’t a chef what profession would you have pursued?  

A police officer

What’s your ‘go-to’ restaurant in Chicago?  

Davanti Enoteca – the food is simple.  It’s casual, perfect for friends and a fun place to eat.

If someone were traveling to Chicago what would be the five things you would recommend they do/see/experience?  

Go to a Blackhawks game; dine at NoMI; take the architectural boat tour; go to Millennium Park and come watch me play hockey at Center Ice.

What are 3 things you cannot live without in your kitchen (at home?)

1.     Weber Grill for the Sunday BBQ

2.     Boosblock cutting board

3.      Toaster oven (for the after work sandwiches)