Remembering Chicago’s “Tech Chef”

Photos of Chef Homaro Cantu at his memorial service. Photo by Luis Badillo | EXTRA

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hicago lost one of its greatest culinary minds and entrpenuers last week. Homaru Cantu, owner of Moto restaurant, Berrista cafe and unopened Crooked Fork brewery passed away at the age of 38. The famed chef was found at the site of what was to be a new brewery on the 4400 block of West Montrose. The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled his death a suicide.

Known as “Omar” by friends and family, Cantu was famous for his avant garde and high tech approach to preparing food. Cantu took a scientific approach to cooking, manipulating the flavors and texture of ingredients using techniques more akin to lab experiments. The Michelin-starred chef would use liquid nitrogen, sonic waves and even a class IV laser at his restaurant.

At his memorial service however, Cantu was remembered as a man who loved his family, and who brought joy to those around him.

“To Omar, everything was a celebration,” said Maureen Milner. Milner, Cantu’s sister-in-law, spoke in front of the gathering at the St. Viator cathedral in Chicago.

“Katie, my dear sister, the great love of Omar’s life: We will celebrate Omar, and his beautiful daughters who light up the room like did,” she said. “Your dad is proud of you today, and will always be proud of you. You two little boomers are his greatest creations.”

Trevor Rose-Hamlin, who worked with Cantu over the previous six years, saw him a visionary and man who could influence those around him. “He knew how to sell us on something in an instant,” he said. “He knew how to inspire us on a daily basis.”

Homaru Cantu was 38-years-old when he passed. He is survived by his wife, Katie McGowan, and his two daughters.

In lieu of flowers, Cantu’s family asks that donations be made to the Cantu Childen Trust via

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