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Chef:  Laurel Hague

When Laurel was in junior high school, her mother went back to work full-time. Charged with the family's nightly dinner preparation, Laurel soon moved from mixing boxed casseroles to creating her own experimental recipes. In high school, she began working part-time in a professional kitchen on the North Shore of Chicago. While studying culinary arts and hospitality management at Northern Michigan University (from which she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2007), she worked summer and holiday breaks at Le Titi de Paris in Arlington Heights, Illinois. While in college, she studied French language, culture, and food in Angers, France. Upon graduation, she returned to Chicago and helped James Beard nominee Graham Elliot Bowles open his namesake restaurant on Huron Street. After a year at Graham Elliot, she moved into her current position as pastry chef at Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park, Illinois. Laurel currently works at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, rotating between their restaurant and banquet culinary teams.

Working in fine dining, gave Laurel the opportunity to see and use cutting edge tools and technology. It was interesting and exciting to her, but she realized that is not where her passions lie. She believes the micro-gastronomy movement swept up high end cookery in the technology and forgets, sometimes, food has to taste good first. If it isn't delicious, then why would anyone want to eat it much less pay serious money for it in an expensive restaurant. When Laurel goes out to eat she hopes for something really tasty, but also something that will surprise her. It might be something whimsical, an unexpected flavor combination, or a twist on a familiar favorite. She embraces this when brain storming new dishes in the kitchen, striving to make something interesting, make something fun, but making sure it is delicious. "Cooking for others is like feeding your soul. Nothing is better than giving someone a delightful experience that becomes a delicious memory."