Chef Roland Liccioni was born in Saigon in the 1950s, Roland's Vietnamese mother and Corsican father fell in love during a time when many European ex-patriots lingered in Vietnam. They gave their son the French name of Roland, and settled in the southwest region of France in 1956. At 15 years old, Roland headed to culinary school for three years of training. After culinary school, Roland worked at the Brassirie Bofinger, owned by Eric de Rothschild in Paris. It was here that the culinary genius blossomed, mastering classical French cooking as though it was second nature for him. In the mid 1970s, Roland left for England, and found success with the Roux Brothers at the Waterside Inn, as he progressed from Chef de Parti to a Sous Chef position in merely three months time.

Roland came to Illinois in the 1980s. He originally assisted a friend at Alouette Restaurant in Highwood for six months, just prior to the grand opening of Carlos' in Highland Park. Chef Roland established his name at Carlos, creating a four star restaurant 2-3 years later where he first met a young enterprising Sous Chef by the name of Gabriel Viti. After seven years as Executive Chef and Chef de Cuisine at Carlos, Roland had the opportunity to join Le Francais in Wheeling, Illinois. For ten years, Chef Roland achieved a five-star Mobil rating, five Diamond awards, the best restaurant ratings from Zagat, accolades from Food & Wine Magazine, and in 1997, he won the Best Chef in the Midwest Award, a highly sought after honor. Under his and Mary Beth’s direction, Le Francais was considered the best Restaurant in the United States. Chef Roland's achievements put Chicago on the map of the culinary world.

 

In 2000, Chef Roland stirred up downtown Chicago as he took over the stoves of Les Nomades. In two short years, it was clear that wherever Roland Liccioni cooks, four stars and incredible cuisine is the result. The year 2004 brought a new challenge and great partnerships to Roland: the successful opening of Le Lan, with Chef Arun Sampanthavivat of Arun's, and restaurant proprietor, Howard Davis of Marche, Opera, Red Light, Gioco and Saiko. Le Lan presents French-Vietnamese cuisine, and was named one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2004, as well as one of the top new restaurants to delight Chicago. Chef Roland Liccioni took over the reign as Chef / Partner of Le Francais restaurant in Wheeling. Proprietor Mike Moran feels, we are thrilled to have Roland back to carry on the tradition of Le Francais. It was a mere three months before the Chicago Tribune awarded four stars to Chef Roland Liccioni and Le Francais.

 

In 2007, Liccioni teamed up with veteran restauranteur Bob Djahanguirito open the Old Town Brasserie marrying classic French cuisine with Vietnamese influences. This odd couple was an instant hit in Chicago's dining scene, though Liccioni did not stay long. In early 2009, Liccioni took over the reigns at Gabriel Viti's wildly successful Miramar Bistro and has helped the hotspot to be considered a serious culinary destination before moving on to other projects which eventually led him back to Les Nomades where he returned in November of 2011.

 

Chef Roland is a linguist of four languages: he often uses French, Spanish, English and a bit of Vietnamese in the kitchen. Roland is an amazing gardener, often bringing his herbs and vegetables right into the kitchen and onto his menu. All those who interact with Chef Roland, whether in the kitchen as a chef or simply as a dining guest, can savor each experience, as his manner, culinary brilliance and blatant wisdom shine in every conversation.

 

Owner Mary Beth Liccioni began her studies in the culinary arts at Washburn Trade School where she entered into the Chef's Training Program. Her departure from Washburn lead to a job under the tutelage of Chef Guy Petit at Crickets in Chicago , this was followed by a term with Jean Banchet at Le Français in Wheeling . Eventually Mary Beth took up artistic residence as Chef de Pâtisserie at Carlos' in Highland Park , Illinois . It was at Carlos' that Mary Beth met and formed her partnership with Roland Liccioni. In 1989 Mary Beth and her former partner Roland acquired Chef Banchet's Le Français, raising the bar at this already renowned destination, the Liccionis gained critical acclaim almost immediately.

The list of awards they earned included: AAA Five-Diamond, Mobil Travel Guide Five-Stars, and Wine Spectator's One of the Greatest Wine Lists in the World, induction into the prestigious Relais & Châteaux, and Traditions & Qualité's Les Grandes Tables du Monde, as well as numerous other distinctive accolades. Also, Mary Beth was ranked among the top ten pastry chefs by Chocolatier magazine. In 1990 Mary Beth formed Chocolats Le Français as a satellite company to the restaurant. It was around this time that it became necessary for Mary Beth to branch-out further with her talents such that she could both see to administrative details and look after the front of the house, nurturing her businesses as a mother nurtures her children. Mary Beth's tireless ambition led her further still; she acquired the then private Les Nomades from Jovan Trboyevic in 1993, and has been director of Les Nomades since that time. Once Ms. Liccioni completed her tenure at Le Français in 1999, she focused her energies on Les Nomades leaving it sole heir to her talent.

 

Along with her keen business sense and gracious personal style, Mary Beth has an insatiable desire for knowledge. She has become fluent in the French language, regularly attends wine courses and is regarded by many as a connoisseur of wine and gastronomie.