B.S. Computer Science, 1986
Executive chef and partner of Avec, Big Star, Blackbird, and The Publican
The recipient of three nominations for the James Beard Foundation’s Chef of the Year award, Paul Kahan is known for seasonal, creative cuisine that ranges from four-star fine dining at Blackbird to tacos and whiskey at Big Star. A love of food is in Kahan’s DNA: he grew up around his father’s delicatessen and smokehouse and worked there throughout high school and college.
After a post-college stint in computer science, Kahan got his start in the restaurant industry working for chefs Erwin Drechsler and Rick Bayless. In 1997, he became chef and partner of Blackbird and appeared on Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs list in 1999. Countless awards and accolades later, his latest venture, the butcher shop/deli Publican Quality Meats, is earning rave reviews, and Kahan is at the forefront of a new guard of Chicago chefs.