MenuMasters 2014: Michael Smith

Nation's Restaurant News salutes culinary creativity with its annual MenuMasters Awards. Honorees will be celebrated at the Drake Hotel in Chicago on May 17. Read in-depth profiles of all 2014 winners >>

Michael Smith’s big moment at the former Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago arrived on New Year’s Eve 1987. On the menu that night was lobster in a saffron sauce served over black squid ink fettuccine.

Smith was not on the line, but was helping out with pastry. He was in the pantry when he heard the late Trotter cry out, asking if anyone knew how to make black squid ink pasta. Another cook’s pasta kept falling apart in the water. Smith raised his han

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