Autre Monde, arguably the finest fine dining spot in the Oak Park-Berwyn area, has elevated Chef Andrew Kerns to the position of Chef de Cuisine. In case you’re not familiar with the French “brigade” system of kitchen hierarchy, the Chef de Cuisine, or “chief of the kitchen,” is responsible for running the kitchen, managing staff, making purchases, developing recipes and menu, and generally maintaining a productive working environment.
Kerns first joined the Autre Monde team in September 2014, working under Executive Chefs Beth Partridge and Dan Pancake. I had a few questions for him.
Tell us a little about the work you did before coming to Autre Monde. Who were your influences?
I started out at Bin 36, which formed a lot of my basic habits and techniques. I got into the organic, farm to table/Mediterranean focus at Urban Union and learned a lot of efficiencies and systems working at Hogsalt. High volume is a great teacher. My upbringing in a restaurant family also definitely influenced my career choice.
What is it about Autre Monde that made you want to work in the kitchen there?
It fits the concept and ideology of what I would like to bring forward in my own place someday. Autre Monde really emphasizes technique, seasonality and the value of ingredients. There’s authenticity in the food, wine and cocktail programs.
Could you tell us a little about the people you’ll be working with at Autre Monde?
I have been at Autre Monde for a year in the sous chef role and it became pretty obvious that this was a good fit both for me and for Chefs Pancake and Partridge. They spent a lot of time sharing their techniques and philosophies with me, and it turns out we come from a very similar place. As I have stepped into this role, however, there will be a good amount of autonomy to create what I enjoy eating.
What do you think you’ll be bringing to the existing Autre Monde style and menu? Are there any specific menu items you’d like to introduce at Autre Monde?
I have been focusing on changing the menu more frequently as opposed to running a lot of specials. You see a lot of market items on our menu, which is an extension and expansion of what has been done here. In concert with Chef Pancake, I have been working towards incorporating more of a whole animal approach to our menu, like focusing on locally raised heritage breeds. This past weekend (Aug. 21 – 23) we launched our first supplemental menu with a number of specials that all came from the same animal (a Berkshire breed pig, raised on corn and mash from Buckledown Brewery in Lyons). This is an evolving collaboration. We’re really excited about it.