It didn't take long for Mary Beth Liccioni, owner of Les Nomades(222 E. Ontario St., 312-649-9010), to find a replacement for departing chef Chris Nugent.
She just dipped into history, bringing back chef Roland Liccioni, who'll be in the kitchen for dinner service Tuesday night.
"He was the first one I called," she said.
It's an intriguing choice for a couple of reasons. One, Roland is Les Nomades' former chef, serving from September 1999 through December 2004. Two, he is Mary Beth's former husband.
Won't it be a little strange, working with your ex-spouse?
"We have had a pretty good working relationship always," Mary Beth says. "Before we were spouses, we were colleagues; we know each other on that level very well."
And it's not like she'll have to show him where they keep the pots and pans.
"He pretty much designed this kitchen anyway," Mary Beth said, laughing."It makes me feel at ease, knowing he's coming back.
"I have so much confidence in him," she says. "He's skilled and technically perfect and creative and smart, and aware of cuisine and the world of cooking today. And it's what he loves doing."
It all starts tonight, but don't expect wholesale changes.
"Obviously, the food is not going to be different today than it was Saturday night," Mary Beth says. "We want a nice, smooth transition to his style."