Chef Profile: Bruce Sherman of North Pond
"It's not just a job for me; it's who I am. It's a life. It's a driving force."-Bruce Sherman, on being a chef.
Bruce Sherman was groomed to be a doctor or a lawyer. That's what everyone else who grew up in the Northern suburb of Glencoe and attended New Trier High School did. But once Sherman got to the University of Pennsylvania, he had an epiphany. He realized his real passion was for food. He made the decision to pursue food, but still inundated with the idea of professionalism, Sherman entered into restaurant management. He soon realized this was the wrong path. That's when he started cooking.
Sherman moved from Boston, where he worked in restaurant management, to Washington D.C. There he ran a catering company for six years. His wife's work then took him to India where he cooked, traveled and developed his culinary skills. After three and a half years, Sherman moved to Paris to refine and complete his culinary education at the Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise. When his yearlong stint in Paris ended in 1999, Sherman moved back to Chicago. He spent two years cooking, most notably in the dining room at the Ritz Carlton, before he started at North Pond.
Today Sherman is chef and partner at Lincoln Park's North Pond. The restaurant's constantly changing menu focuses on using the best local ingredients and keeping the dishes in tune with the seasons. Sherman utilizes American products to create his dishes in the French style of cooking. He presents his food in a simple way that highlights the nature of the ingredients.
Sherman says he doesn't have a signature dish, but keeping in line with his focus on the ingredients, North Pond's menu always contains an egg appetizer and a beet salad. Recent variations include a soft-boiled egg with cranberry bean purée, arugula coulis, apples and prosciutto, and a warm baby beet and caramelized onion tartin with puff pastry, chards of gold beet, frisée, horseradish, crème fraîche and beet syrup.
Sherman feels strongly about supporting local farmers and gathers a significant amount of his ingredients at local farmers' markets.
"I want to be doing something that extends beyond the fancy food on the plate," Sherman says. "I find that the best way to do that most effectively in the kitchen is to consider my sources."
And North Pond proves to be the perfect setting to showcase Sherman's emphasis on sustainability. The restaurant is nestled into the side of a hill between a pond on one side and trees and hills on the other. Diners can enjoy Sherman's cuisine with a view of the Chicago skyline or they can look toward the trees for an escape from the bustling city behind them.
Bruce Sherman was named best new chef by Food and Wine in 2003 and most recently was nominated for a 2007 James Beard Award in the category of Best Chef: Great Lakes.
◊ November 2007
More North Pond: