Michael Carlson
Chef / Proprietor

Chicagoland native Michael Carlson began his professional training working under Chef Paul Bartolotta at Chicago’s Spiaggia. He then travelled to Europe to work and train, focusing his time working under Valentino Marcattilii at San Domenico in Imola, Italy. Upon returning to Chicago, he was hired at the acclaimed restaurant Trio, where he worked alongside renowned chef, Grant Achatz (now Chef/proprietor of Alinea). He later returned to Europe to work with Heston Blumenthal at the celebrated 3-star restaurant, Fat Duck, in Bray, UK.

In 2005, he made the difficult and fateful decision to turn down the position of sous-chef at Alinea, choosing instead to rent out a small storefront owned by a longtime friend. This experiment birthed Chef Carlson’s now renowned restaurant, Schwa. His artful approach features presenting a diverse arsenal of ingredients in a relaxed, intimate setting. In 2006, he graced the cover of Food & Wine magazine as one of theBest New Chefs that year. In 2007, he won the Jean Banchet Award for rising chef of the year. In 2009, GQ magazine did a much talked about nine-page feature on Schwa and Chef Carlson; it’s cover touting Schwa as “The Most Revolutionary Restaurant In America.” With 2010 came a “Best Chef” nomination from the esteemed James Beard Foundation.


Photo Credit: Lucy Hewett, The Chicago Reader