Executive Chef, South Congress Hotel
With over 20 years of experience, Chef Duque's impressive culinary career spans across Chicago, Paris and New York. Chef Duque worked with Sandro Gamba of NoMI in the Park Hyatt and later became the Chef de Cuisine at the Union League Club of Chicago. The Union League Club has the designation of the number two private club in the United States. In the Summer of 2007, Chef Duque conceived and opened Sepia restaurant with partner Emmanuel Nony. The restaurant opened to critical acclaim, including Best New Chef (Chicago Magazine ‘08); Best New Restaurant (Time Out Magazine ’08); James Beard Semi-Finalist Great Lakes Region ( 2 years in a row ’08, ’09); Gayot’s Guide Ten Best New Restaurants in the U.S. (’08); and more. Duque went on to open Chicago Firehouse, American Junkie, and The Brass Monkey.
In 2014 Chef Duque transitioned to Executive Chef of the Glenview Private Country Club, where he managed 12 outlets. Chef Duque comes from multiple kitchens with modesty and hard work, but all filled with team spirit and joy. He now helms as Executive Chef of South Congress Hotel.
Pastry Chef, South Congress Hotel
Raised in New Braunfels, Texas, Chelsea Smith’s upbringing and family was all about food and time spent around the table, with her parents often cooking at home and spending quality time together during family dinners. Smith developed a love of pastry from fond memories of baking with her grandmas — Nani, the queen of cookies, and Oma, who always had bread and sheet cakes to snack on or bake together.
Upon completing the Le Cordon Bleu pastry program, Smith worked in several bake shops around Austin including the University of Texas, Central Market Bakery and Quacks on 43rd. In 2015, Smith joined South Congress Hotel as part of its opening team, studying under New Waterloo Corporate Executive Pastry Chef Amanda Rockman and previous Pastry Chef, Lindsay Flagg.
Leveraging talent, discipline and leadership skills, Smith has worked her way up to now serve as Pastry Chef, overseeing the South Congress Hotel pastry program. As Pastry Chef, Smith loves leading with creativity in developing seasonal pastries and gives each member of the pastry team an opportunity to have a say in developing new delicious treats around the property.