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Rick's Biography

For eleven years, Rick Tramonto was executive chef and founding partner at Chicago’s world-renowned four-star fine-dining restaurant Tru, in partnership with Rich Melman, of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. Tramonto was also culinary director of Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood, and RT Sushi Bar, in the Westin Hotel in Wheeling, IL.

In 2010, Tramonto announced his partnership with Louisiana native Chef John Folse and the formation of a new restaurant company, Home on the Range. Tramonto and Folse opened their first joint restaurant project, Restaurant R’evolution, in New Orleans’ renowned French Quarter in the Royal Sonesta Hotel, on June 4th 2012. Their second project, Seafood R'evolution, opened in November 2014 in Ridgeland, MS, just outside of Jackson MS.

Tramonto is an accomplished author with eight titles to his credit: His memoir, Scars of a Chef, was published in March 2011. His cookbooks include: Steak with Friends: At Home with Rick Tramonto; Osteria; Fantastico!; Tru; Amuse-Bouche; Butter Sugar Flour Eggs (nominated for the 2000 James Beard Award for the Best Cookbook in the Baking and Desserts category); American Brasserie (finalist for the Julia Child Cookbook Awards).

A Rochester, New York native, Tramonto grew up in a traditional blue-collar Italian family. In 1977, because of a family crisis and his struggles in school, Tramonto dropped out of high school and entered the workforce to help support his family. His first full-time job was with Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers. He left after two years to become grill/sauté cook at the Scotch ‘N Sirloin, which led to his first real culinary experience at the Strathallen Hotel. Under the tutelage of Chef Greg Broman, Tramonto learned the techniques of classic French cuisine.

Young and ambitious, Tramonto moved to New York in the early 1980s, where he worked at the legendary Tavern on the Green. From there he joined Chef Alfred Portale as line cook at Gotham Bar & Grill and was part of the brigade awarded three stars by the New York Times. He also worked under Chef Gerard Pangaud at Aurora. In the late 1980s, Tramonto was brought to Chicago by Richard Melman to work at his popular restaurants Avanzare and Scoozi! Rick then went on to open and work at several other Lettuce Entertain You establishments.

After a stint at Charlie Trotter's, Tramonto received a call from Bob Payton, CEO and founder of My Kinda Town Ltd. in London, which operated multiple American-concept restaurants throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. Payton asked Tramonto to transform the kitchen and cuisine at his award-winning country-house hotel Stapleford Park in Leicestershire, outside London. Tramonto accepted the opportunity to live and work in England, France, and Spain. Stapleford Park was awarded the Michelin Guide's coveted Red "M." Tramonto then teamed up again with Bob Payton to do the reopening of the famous Criterion Brasserie in Picadilly Circus, London. After that, Tramonto went on to apprentice with some of the world's greatest chefs, including Pierre Gagnaire, Anton Mosimann, Michel Guerard, Raymond Blanc and Alain Chapel. When Tramonto returned to Chicago in the early 1990s, he was ready to partner in the launch of a successful fine-dining restaurant. He, his culinary partner Gale Gand and Henry Adaniya opened the nationally acclaimed Trio in Evanston, Illinois. The restaurant was an immediate triumph, earning four-star ratings from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago magazine, as well as Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in America. Tramonto and Gand then went on to launch the popular restaurant Brasserie T. During that time they also reunited with restaurateur Rich Melman to launch the award-winning Chicago landmark Tru in 2000. With Tru, they regained four-star status with the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times and Chicago magazine, as well as a Michelin Red “M” and a four-star Mobil rating. Tramonto received several awards as well, including the James Beard Best New Chef in the Midwest.

Because of the respect he has earned in the culinary world, Tramonto has been featured in newspapers including USA Today, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and People magazine as well as international lifestyle publications such as Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Wine Spectator and Conde Nast Traveler. He has a history of television work as well, appearing on Oprah, Today, CBS This Morning, Simply Ming and Iron Chef America on Food Network. He was a judge on Bravo TV’s hit reality program Top Chef. Most recently he was a contestant on Season 2 of Top Chef Masters.

Tramonto is a regular at many Food and Wine events, including the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, and the Aspen Food and Wine Classic. He is active in his church and supports a number of charities, including Feed the Children, and Angel Tree. Tramonto resides with his wife and three sons in the Chicago area.

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