John Shields

John Shields - New Candidates 2022
John Shields – New Candidates 2022

John Shields


John Shields, began his culinary training in the St. Louis area, attending culinary school and working in local restaurants. Shields spent two years serving as sous chef at the world-renowned Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. Then, he continued his career with Chef Grant Achatz at Alinea as sous chef in 2005. During his two years there, Alinea grew from an exciting upstart to one of the best restaurants in the world.

After leaving Alinea in 2008 to pursue the next step in his career, John (and his soon-to-be wife Karen) turned down an offer to lead the opening of a Charlie Trotter restaurant in Las Vegas. Instead, they took a bold chance on an opportunity to open a little-known restaurant in the countryside of Southwestern Virginia.

Power Couples

John and Karen moved to Chilhowie, Virginia, in 2008 and were given carte blanche to re-imagine the then-unknown Town House restaurant. Now able to craft their own vision, chefs John and Karen rebuilt the Town House concept as a modern exploration of imaginative flavour and visual compositions that utilized the wide array of seasonal, locally grown, and foraged ingredients.

In Chilhowie, the Shields found their creative voices and their food quickly gained national attention. After four successful years at Town House and Riverstead Inn, John and the wife decided to return to Chicago to open Smyth and The Loyalist. When not in the kitchen, the couple spends time with their two young daughters.

A joining together of warmth, vitality, and artistry

The name “Smyth” is an homage to the depth and richness of John Shields and Karen Urie Shields’ five inspiring years in the farmlands of Smyth County, Virginia. There they expanded their knowledge and vision and found their voice. They bring this sensibility back to their culinary roots in Chicago. As a results, they create thoughtful dishes from pristine products — dishes that are imaginative, yet humble and grounded.

At Smyth, creativity ebbs and flows from the ocean. The ocean bestows purity unparalleled, and its abundance is featured both prominently and delicately throughout the menu. These offerings are served in harmonization with its finest produce nature has to offer, grown in close collaboration with small farmers, and followed by one or two servings of meat. The menu culminates in a series of sweet servings that carefully walk the fine line between providing something new while also bringing a sense of the familiar.

Instagram: @chefjohnshields @smythchicago
Restaurant web site:
Restaurant address: 177 N Ada St #101, Chicago, IL 60607, United States

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