Food & Drink

Charlotte chef announces he’s heading back to Chicago

Gene Kato, the executive chef of Upstream, demonstrated a dish using peppers grown by North Carolina’s Bailey Farms.
Gene Kato, the executive chef of Upstream, demonstrated a dish using peppers grown by North Carolina’s Bailey Farms.

Gene Kato, who came back from high-end restaurants to his native Charlotte to take charge of Upstream in South Park, announced Monday that he’s leaving to return to Chicago. 

According to Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune, Kato will lead Momotaro, replacing the respected founding chef, Mark Hellyar. 

“Charlotte is where I grew up, and I needed a break to regroup, and re-prioritize my life,” Kato told the Chicago Tribune. “But I feel Chicago is my home; I grew up professionally and as a human being here.”

After growing up in Charlotte and getting his culinary education at Central Piedmont Community College, Kato went off to Chicago and got acclaim for his robata sushi restaurant, Sumi. 

When he returned to Charlotte last year to take over Upstream in Phillips Place, he shook up the menu, adding Asian ingredients and flourishes to many dishes, even making fresh tofu in-house. 

 

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Kato told the Tribune that he would return to Chicago in January and will continue at Upstream until then. 

Kathleen Purvis; 704-358-5236.
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