For the chef-owner at Grace in Chicago, there's less distance between Michelin stars and Muay Thai than you'd think.
Curtis Duffy is a man of discipline. As the chef-owner of Grace in Chicago, he spends 14 hours a day delivering the hyper-seasonal and visually stunning creations for which his three Michelin-starred restaurant is known. During the week, he starts each day with two hours of Muay Thai practice at the gym. Then on Saturdays, he commutes an hour pre-dawn to an elite martial arts school. “For me, it’s like anything I do in my life—if I’m committed to it, I’m going to commit to it 100 percent and do the best I possibly can,” Duffy says. “If that means going to bed at three a.m. on Friday and getting up at six a.m. on Saturday, that’s what I’m going to do; it’s a mindset.”
That mindset has landed Duffy and his restaurant with a series of coveted accolades: Grace is just one of two restaurants in Chicago to have three Michelin stars and received a five-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide, while Duffy was named Eater National's Chef of the Year. And on February 2 comes the release of For Grace, a documentary chronicling Duffy’s tough childhood and how he found his culinary prowess. Here, the chef shares his constant goal, why he needs fitness and the vice he can’t kick.
Fruits, Nuts and Herb Grain Salad
This post-gym staple is one of Duffy’s favorites for its seasonal possibilities.
In a large bowl, combine 4 cups cooked barley with ½ cup each chopped dried fruit (such as cherries, raisins and cranberries), chopped fresh fruit (such as apples, oranges, pears and blueberries), roasted coarsely chopped nuts (optional), roasted seeds (optional), chopped herbs (such as chives, basil, mint, dill and parsley), freshly squeezed citrus juice (lemon, lime or orange); ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil and 1 Tbsp salt. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.