Foodservice > Chef's Table
Rick Tramonto is one of the most highly acclaimed chefs on Chicago’s culinary scene. Not only is he partner and executive chef at Tru, a four-star Mobil restaurant, but he’s about to open four new dining concepts with longtime culinary partner Gale Gand. A Rochester, New York native, Tramonto grew up in a first generation Italian-American home, where a strong food culture first piqued his interest in cooking. Tramonto’s foodservice career began at the age of sixteen, working at a local Wendy’s. By the age of eighteen, he was off to New York City, working for renowned chef Alfred Portale at Gotham Grill, where he learned the basics of cooking at a fine-dining restaurant. After a stint in Chicago with Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You restaurant empire, Tramonto spent several years developing his skills in England, France and Spain. He ultimately returned to Chicago to open his first restaurant, Trio, in 1993, quickly earning the first four-star rating in six years from the Chicago Tribune’s restaurant critic, William Rice.
Growing up in Rochester, Tramonto first encountered soy sauce and Asian food at a local Chinese restaurant, where he enjoyed pot stickers and dumplings with a variety of dipping sauces. New York City, with its many sushi bars and Japanese restaurants, widened his acquaintance with Asian food. It was there that he started to buy and cook with Kikkoman Soy Sauce. Now, says Tramonto, “I have the whole product line in my pantry at home. . . even my kids know the brand.” For his restaurants, with their focus on top-quality ingredients, Tramonto chooses Kikkoman because “it has great customer recognition, great flavors and people trust (it). It’s a great brand, in the best sense of the word . . . tried and true, dependable and consistent.”
Tramonto makes it his mission to inspire and lead his entire restaurant team, and to “keep the culture of hospitality alive and to extend graciousness towards clients. These days it seems like a lost art.” He puts a lot of energy into developing the young cooks who come to work with him, especially those who “have a passion for the ingredients and understand the sacrifices the industry demands.” He acknowledges that the industry can be tough, but he credits his family and his religious faith with being keys to his success, keeping him on the right track.