Executive Chef Giuseppe Tentori Explains Why Simple Food Is Great

“I would describe my food as very simple,” says Giuseppe Tentori, Executive Chef and Partner of GT Fish & Oyster and GT Prime. “Simple food is great. You don’t need to add too many ingredients or make your food too weird just to be like a great chef.”

Tentori enjoys various accolades after making a name for himself in Chicago redefining the American seafood restaurant experience with the opening of GT Fish & Oyster in 2011. He earned critical recognition both regionally and nationally, like three stars from the Chicago Tribune and nominations for “Best Chef: Great Lakes” by the James Beard Foundation.

Italy-native Tentori began his culinary career at the young age of 17. He initially got into the industry under the presumption he would be making a lot of money, traveling the world, and eating anything he wanted. “It turned out to be the opposite, but I kinda fell in love with cooking…,” said the graduate of a culinary school in Milan.

Chef Tentori admits that one of the hardest things he’s had to do in his career as a chef is leading a team. He believes it’s important to no micromanage his crew all the time. “You have to mentor them, trust them… just let them do their own thing,” says Tentori. “For me it was like a huge learning experience.”

To learn more about Tentori, what culinary trends he is incorporating into his menu and where he gets his inspiration from, watch the episode above!

GT Fish & Oyster: A Balancing Act of Traditional and Modern Seafood in Chicago

In the five years Chicago’s GT Fish & Oyster has been open, they’ve sold roughly 1.5 million oysters. Of the concept, the restaurant’s chef and partner, Giuseppe Tentori, says it was, at first, a challenge. “Five years ago, there were not too many seafood restaurants — it was like fine dining or super casual.”

And while Chicago may be inland, Tentori says fish is being flown into the Windy City every day. “It’s beautiful, too. Sometimes they save the best fish for the big cities because we pay the prime price.”

Tentori went to culinary school in Milan, and, after working for four years, moved to Chicago to work for Chef Gabriel Viti. Tentori headed off to Utah for three years after that to open a restaurant called Metropolitan, then studied with Charlie Trotter for about nine years, and in 2007, he started working for the Chicago-based Boka Restaurant Group, which owns GT Fish & Oyster.

GT front room:bar.png
shrimp bruschetta GT fish & oyster
GT dining room.png
GT hot sauce.png

The Menu

GT Fish & Oyster is known for its shareable plates format, but is not limited for those who do not want to share. (Bonus: The restaurant even makes its own sauces.)

A huge driver is the restaurant’s oyster selection. “Every oyster has different flavor,” says Tentori. “For wine, terroir is very important. Oysters, same thing.” Today, GT Fish & Oyster has about 95 different varieties of oysters, 63 of which can be expected daily, plus a couple of more unique varieties for oyster enthusiasts. 

“We spend a lot of time on the phone,” Tentori says. “We’ve built a strong relationship with our purveyor, so they know what we like and what we want, so they will source it for us and tell us exactly, ‘These are the best oysters right now.’”

Tentori explains GT’s menu as a balanced mixture of traditional and modern seafood. For the diners who prefer the traditional route, there’s fish & chips, lobster rolls, mussels, oysters, and the like. For diners who prefer a more modern take, the menu offers items like shrimp bruschetta with avocado, toasted pistachio, grapefruit, and cilantro. In this “Table 42” vignette, Chef Tentori shows us how to make this dish.

In the Kitchen

The shrimp bruschetta appetizer dish starts with searing salt-and-peppered shrimp. Avocado mousse, housed in a bag for application, is made by mixing avocado and jalapeño — but keeping the avocado pit in the bag is key to ensure it stays green for a longer time. Spread the avocado mousse onto the bruschetta. Then, cut grapefruit in thirds and place on top of the mousse. Split the shrimps in half and add onto the bruschetta. Add fresno pepper, pistachios, cilantro leaves, and lime zest.