John Shields

John Shields – New Candidates 2023

John Shields


John Shields began his culinary training in the St. Louis area. He attended culinary school and worked in local restaurants. 

Shields spent two years serving as sous chef at the world-renowned Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago before continuing 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 turned down an offer to lead the opening of a Charlie Trotter restaurant in Las Vegas. Instead, he took a bold chance on an opportunity to open a little-known restaurant in the countryside of Southwestern Virginia.

The Town House.

John and his wife Karen (also a brilliant chef) moved to Chilhowie, Virginia, in 2008 and were given carte blanche to re-imagine the then-unknown Town House restaurant. Now able to craft his own vision, John rebuilt the Town House concept as a modern exploration of imaginative flavor 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 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 Shields’ five inspiring years in the farmlands of Smyth County, Virginia, where they expanded their knowledge and vision and found their voice. They brought this sensibility back to their Chicago culinary roots to 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 the 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 North Ada Street #101, Chicago, IL, United States, Illinois

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