Blackbird, Chicago

Age 36
Background Born in Chicago. Worked at Topolobampo, Erwin and Metropolis Café in Chicago.
How he got into cooking Helping out his father, who owned delis and a smoked-fish business.
Favorite cookbooks French Regional Cooking by Anne Willan and the Chez Panisse books.
Favorite place to eat Jim's Grill, a vegetarian Korean diner on Irving Park Road in Chicago. "You always feel great afterward. And lots of rock bands hang out there."
Dish he could eat every day Lake fish--pike, salmon and trout.
What he eats at 1 A.M. Dish 131 at River Kwai, an Asian restaurant
with 130 dishes on the menu. "It's different every time I ask for it."
Strangest customer request One diner wanted each item on his plate kept separate. "So the potatoes couldn't touch the meat; the meat couldn't touch the green beans..."
Trend he's most tired of "A little salad on top of everything. It drives me up a wall."
Recipe tip Don't buy scallops that are sitting in a pool of creamy liquid. They should be dry and a little sticky and have a sweet, briny smell. If there's no smell at all, they've probably been treated with chemicals.
Restaurant details 619 W. Randolph St.; 312-715-0708.

    By Kate Krader and Monica F. Forrestall