Chef Alexander Cheswick of May Street Market started cooking at age 16 for the Metropolitan Club in the Sears Tower. After attending the Culinary Institute of America, Cheswick worked at Le Francais and Tru, where the importance of every dish coming out “looking like gold and tasting like heaven” was paramount. Cheswick also spent time at Heinz Winkler, a three-Michelin-star French restaurant in Germany.
He was the executive chef of a boutique, four-star equestrian hotel in the foothills of the Alps in Bavaria before he opened the seasonal New American-focused May Street Market in 2005. Reflecting on how Tru and Le Francais withstood the test of time, Cheswick hopes May Street Market finds the same fate.
Q. What do you wish you could change or preserve about the Chicago restaurant scene?
A. I would like Chicago to be further recognized as a city for excellence in food, wine and culture.
Q. What would your last meal be?
A. Whatever it may be, those I share it with — my family and friends — would be more important than the food itself. However I love a good roasted chicken, cooked to perfection, juicy and tender, with a crispy skin.
Q. Where do you eat before or after a shift?
A. I usually have a family meal, which ranges from grilled hanger steak with a spring salad and roasted finger potatoes to curried tilapia served over Israeli couscous, with my whole staff, wife and my 5-year-old daughter. It’s an opportunity for the whole restaurant, the front and back of the house, to get together and share a meal.
Q. What Chicago chef would you most like to share a kitchen with?
A. I am not sure I would like to share a kitchen with another chef. Two cooks can spoil a soup.
Q. What should we know about your restaurant that we probably don’t?
A. That the two entrance doors come from my high school, St. Ignatius on Roosevelt Road.
May Street Market; 1132 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago (312) 421-5547