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Paris chef still Midwestern at heart

Daniel Rose' serves lunch Spring his restaurant Paris. | Owen Franken photo

Daniel Rose' serves lunch at Spring, his restaurant in Paris. | Owen Franken photo

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Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel dinner series

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. April 9

Where: Heaven on Seven,
111 N. Wabash

Tickets: $175; pre-ticketing required and must be 21 years or older to attend.

Info: 312-263-6443;

Updated: April 8, 2014 9:01PM

You can take the Chicagoan out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the Chicagoan. Or, at least, that’s the case with Daniel Rose, chef and owner of Spring, a destination restaurant near the Louvre in Paris that’s earned a ton of accolades and is routinely booked months in advance.

“There something about the Midwest character that allows you this idea that through hard work and doing things the right way, you can allow yourself to take risks that in the end might not be so risky after all,” he says. “It’s no accident that a guy from Chicago came to Paris, leaned forward and started to run.”

Rose will join local chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr. and Mindy Segal for the Chicago leg of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Bounty & Barrel dinner series on April 9 at Heaven on Seven’s Wabash location. For the intimate event, which benefits Friends of the James Beard Foundation, the chefs are collaborating on a five-course meal to be paired with cocktails made from Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel.

So how did someone with no professional cooking experience in the States or even restaurant ambition end up with a successful Paris restaurant?

Rose’s story reads like a script for a movie.

In 1998, he left Chicago to finish college at the American University of Paris. Looking to improve his French and not ready to head back to the States after graduation, he enrolled in the Institut Paul Bocuse culinary school in Lyon.

Rose went on to cook at some of France’s top restaurants, as well as in Guatemala, and six years later opened Spring, a 16-seat, 310-square-foot spot in the Ninth Arrondissement of Paris. The then 29-year-old was the sole employee.

While some saw his open kitchen as innovative, Rose says it was all about practicality. “The only way I could run the front and back of the house by myself was by not having to duck into the kitchen to cook and come back out to serve,” he says. “So I broke down the wall.”

Rose’s fresh take on traditional French cuisine, which incorporates ingredients he discovered and fell in love with over the years while living in France, and stripped-down style of service, caught on big. “The first Spring was this joyful, naïve moment. It had this unbridled openness about just doing something and making sure it was going to get done right,” he says.

But the restaurant’s pared-down approach did have a downside. When Rose wasn’t able to accommodate a diner’s request for coffee since he was the only person in the kitchen, he knew a change was in order. “There is a certain level of service you want to be able to offer,” he says.

In 2010, he moved Spring to a larger location, along with a staff of 17, where reservations for the market-driven, multicourse meals continue to be in high demand. Says Rose, “I grew up and now what I have is a pretty good balance between service protocol and something very sincere.”

And how’s this for a happy Hollywood ending? Rose fell in love with and married his sous chef, Marie-Aude, and they now have two children.

Once or twice a year, Rose takes a break from his busy restaurant and returns to the Windy City. This year’s trip will include more than just stops at Lou Malnati’s and Chinatown — “I like to eat the stuff I can’t eat in Paris,” he says — and dinner at his mom’s house, his “favorite Chicago restaurant.”

The dinner marks a milestone for him: It’s the first time Rose will be cooking in Chicago. The location of the Wednesday event also has special meaning. His father, a radiologist, used to have an office in the same building as Heaven on Seven, and Rose would often eat at the New Orleans-inspired restaurant.

For Rose a big attraction to participating in the dinner was the opportunity it provided to work with chefs he’s heard so much about.

Says Rose: “Even though I’ve been in France for 16 years, I still root for the home team.”

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