Chef Chris Nugent began his culinary career at a very early stage in his life training next to his mentor and adoptive father Chef John Daly at the Drovers Inn, an upscale classic French Restaurant in Vestal, New York. His culinary training was such that by age fourteen, Nugent had already mastered the inner workings of a restaurant, the nuances of each food station, along with the efficiencies on running an entire kitchen.

Upon graduating from high school, Nugent further pursued his culinary interests and enrolled in the Johnson and Wales University, College of Culinary Arts in Providence, Rhode Island, His father's alma mater, where he gained yet a higher level of expertise and proficiency in the field.

After graduating, he completed several stages at many fine restaurants throughout the country including Radius in Boston and Tru, Grace, and Zealous in Chicago. Only shortly afterwards did Chef Nugent work at some of the city's finest restaurants such as Prairie, Mid-America Club, MK, and Park Avenue Café, and fine-tuned his culinary craft under such highly acclaimed chefs as Stephen Langlois, Andre Bienvenu, James Beard award winners Rick Tramonto, David Burk, Michael Schlow, and Michael Kornick.

Often described as "delicious," "serious," and "beautifully presented and without pretension," Chef Nugent's cuisine has received rave reviews and he is certainly happy that his cooking style is favorably recognized by both critics and clientele. He describes his culinary style as "classic French with a Twist" and continues to develop a commitment to proper technique and to the purity of French cuisine. Nugent creates eclectic dishes that have both a focus and a balance of flavors. "The integrity of the dish is first and foremost," states Nugent, "after I have established that, I experiment with presentation and flavor." To achieve this culinary level, he combines his childhood grounding in classic French cooking with his own natural inventiveness.

Besides the quality of the food, Nugent follows his father's philosophy of building an excellent culinary team. "A chef is nobody without his staff. I consider them a part of my family," says Nugent. "A successful restaurant must include running a kitchen operation both from a culinary point of view as well as a business point of view. That includes staff training, training in the principles of good cooking, and good business. Teamwork is essential."

Chef Nugent's thorough approach to work combined with his creativity successfully translates to being an excellent teacher. Chef Nugent enjoys teaching his passion to others, not only to his staff, but also to the greater community. He is on the Common Threads Chef Advisory Board, a non-profit organization that teaches children to embrace their culture and the cultural diversity that surrounds them. He also participates in cooking demonstrations at the Green City Market and American Diabetes Association EXPO at Navy Pier.

   

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.