The renditions of the culinary world that we are privy to are often exciting, fast paced television shows about chefs in competitions, or cozy, inviting television shows about chefs meandering about in immaculate kitchens. This is hardly the reality that talented chefs live day to day.
Christopher Anderson is the head chef and creative mind at moto in Chicago. The hours are long, and the sleep is in short supply, but his ability to inspire guests with pieces of his heart and soul make it all worthwhile. He studied at the Art Institute of Charlotte and received a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Management. After, he attended the Gastronomicom International Culinary Academy in France where Chris studied French Language and French Cooking. This combination of traditional and modern training has set the stage for his desire to create elevated Southern cooking. His dishes currently featured at moto give the excitement and wonder of molecular gastronomy, while his Southern roots give the warmth and joy of comfort and hospitality.
In order to balance such a dichotomous idea, you would have to be a little crazy. As Chris puts it, “[being] sleep deprived by working 24/7 [makes] you are a little off your rocker and then stuff starts getting pretty creative.” Emulating the Southern food he grew up with comes naturally. “It is my culture, you can’t get much closer to the heart and soul than that.” Chris began cooking at a young age with his mother and grandfather. Since then, his mother, wife, and two kids have been his greatest supporters. “The women of my life not only support me but are my rock in life period.” He has also found mentors in various chefs. His short list includes Richie Farina, Homaro Cantu, Matthew Kirkley, Michael Edrington, Robby Hooker and Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex.
When Chris had his first child, he realized how much he loved cooking and feeding others. It was then that he made up his mind to live the dream, “When I had my first child! Then I figured out what I was good at and what made me happy and it was food!” Working with what he loves most is a beast of a challenge. The incredible amount of stress working in a kitchen is tenfold as the head chef. Coupled with the long hours, spent both in the kitchen and at home, it is a wonder that he can still orchestrate the perfect dishes for his guests, as if by magic.
The moto kitchen would seem alien to most, some of the equipment is fit for a sci-fi flick. Some items that Chris listed off that he works with on a daily basis include immersion, centrifuge, Roto Evaporator, and Kappa Carrageenan, just to name a few. moto strives to take advantage of Chicago’s farm to table programs and utilizes local vendors wherever they can. Chris has continued these values in his work, and ensures that ingredients are fresh and local.
Chris is lucky to have two families to support him, his wife and children, and his “family” at moto. The kitchen staff is more than just employees; they are a support system fueled by mutual respect and trust. Chris shares the food and values of moto with other families via the charities and events that he supports. To name a few, Chris endorses No Kid Hungry, the Cancer Society, the Trotter Project, and the Illinois Restaurant Association. “I contribute my time to an event or speaking engagement so they can raise money and I can support that.” He also makes time to appear as a guest chef at events in order to give back to communities, and hopefully inspire students interested in the culinary field.
Outside of moto, Chris has been featured in many events. A few of his favorites include Chicago Lobster Bash, Chicago Food and Wine and Chicago Gourmet. He hopes to have more opportunities to showcase his skills, and share his love for Southern cuisine. Chris has big plans for the future, and wants most of all to keep his guests pleased. “[I’m striving] to push my culture, cuisine, and myself where it has never gone before to enlighten guests and to pursue perfection.” He hopes to expand moto in the near future, and possibly create a restaurant group. For now, the New Year’s Eve party is next on the menu, and Chris cannot wait to entertain you.
“Just food and my family, that’s all I need!”