Home » CULINARY PERSONALITIES » In the Kitchen with Chef Charles Welch from Honey’s

In the Kitchen with Chef Charles Welch from Honey’s

The new Chicago hot spot is winning awards, supporting local charities, and serving up delicious food

Nothing tastes sweeter than honey, except maybe dinner at West Loop’s recent addition, Honey’s {1111 West Lake Street, Chicago; 312.877.5929}. Led by Executive Chef Charles Welch, along with partners Justin Furman and Tyrone Redic, the intimate but creative spot serves up American dishes with a Mediterranean influence. And though it only opened last summer, diners and critics alike are starting to take notice. In its first year of operation, Honey’s was nominated for the 2017 Jean Banchet Awards for Best Restaurant Service, Rising Pastry Chef of the Year, and Rising Chef of the Year, thanks to the inventive menu created by Welch and his team. Fresh off a glamorous night at the awards show, we talked with Chef Welch about his stunning first year with the restaurant, what he orders off his menu, and why he is especially honored to support the Chicago Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

DiningOut: What led you to become a part of the Chicago food community?

Charles Welch: I attended Chicago’s Le Cordon Bleu, and from there began working in local kitchens around the city. Upon graduating in 2005, I joined Thyme Restaurant as a line cook, where I spent two years working with signature meat and ingredients. I then transitioned to a similar position at mk The Restaurant, working in Michael Kornick’s kitchen for about three years. At mk, I developed an even stronger affinity for the family-like bonds that are formed within a restaurant and really solidified my love for the hospitality industry. Most recently, I worked as executive sous chef under Andrew Zimmerman at Sepia.

Photo Credit Brian Wilette

What drew you to Honey’s?

I met Justin and Andrew four years ago almost to the date. I was approached by them as they were looking at prospective sous chefs in the West Loop neighborhood. We instantly connected and shared a lot of similar ideas on how we wanted our ideal restaurant to run. It seems like only yesterday.

What influences do you feel had a great effect on your cooking style?

Definitely studying traditional French and Italian technique, and working closely with Andrew Zimmerman.

What is the best part about being a chef?

The ability to create something that makes people happy—at the end of the day, it’s all about bringing joy to our guests, and making them feel like part of our family. And of course my team—it’s an honor to work with such creative, talented, and driven people.

And the toughest?

It can be exhausting, frustrating, draining, etc., but at the end of the day, I have my dream job and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get to do what I truly love every day and I am surrounded by equally passionate people, from our staff to local purveyors to diners.

What do you think makes our food community unique in Chicago?

The food scene in Chicago truly is a community, and I think that sets us apart from other major culinary cities. Of course, chefs are always pushing one another and there is healthy competition, but the food community here is incredibly supportive.

What did you hope to bring to the culinary table at Honey’s?

As a team, my partners and I just hoped to create a comfortable, stylish, and delicious neighborhood restaurant. From day one it’s been all about offering accessible fine dining and making every person who walks through the door feel like family.

When someone walks into the door, what do you hope they feel?

At home.

What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu?

My current favorite items on the menu are the Monkfish “a la blanquette,” served with salsify, celery root, and fresh black truffles as well as the escargot and wild mushroom risotto with black lime, gremolata, and pecorino cheese.

How does it feel to be nominated for the Jean Banchet awards, benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation?

It is such an incredible honor to be nominated alongside such talented people—I’m very humbled and just trying to soak it all in.

Why is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation such an important cause?

CFF is leading the way in important research, care, and fundraising; it’s an important cause that deserves recognition and support.

By Kaleigh Glaza | Online Editor