When he’s not busy in the kitchen as sous chef at River’s North trendy Pacific Standard Time restaurant, Chicagoan Tyler Houston is putting his love for food to work in another, more unusual way as the first “chef-in-residence” at the nearby Gallery on Wells apartment building.
The year-along program, which provides Houston with 12 months of rent-free living in exchange for his culinary services, is the latest must-have amenity aimed at attracting the necessary tenants to fill the thousands of new units coming online.
What does a chef in residence do exactly? In addition to hosting catered events and cooking demonstrations on the building’s large outdoor terrace, Houston is leaving that partly up to the residents themselves. The chef used a survey to get his new neighbors involved and identify the types of events and programming they would like to see.
“Since I am the first chef-in-residence, I have somewhat of a blank slate to play around with,” Houston told Curbed Chicago. “The survey generated a lot of great feedback and revealed interests in grilling classes, outings to the farmers market, wine pairings, and using seasoning ingredients.”
“What’s exciting for me is identifying new ways to connect people with food. I want people to embrace cooking and spend more time consciously shopping, preparing food at home, connecting with vendors, and eating meals together. I want to educate our residents so they feel like they can go to a wine store and understand what they’re picking out or know what to look for at a fish market.”
Houston started his role at The Gallery on Wells in early July and is one of six individuals to take part in Magellan Development Group’s artist-in-residence program which includes live-in singers, musicians, and a graffiti artist at several of the company’s Chicago and Nashville properties.
So, will having chef from an acclaimed local hot-spot attract renters to the building and keep them there? Since opening last summer, the 442-unit Gallery on Wells high-rise is at least 90% leased, according to Magellan. “I can only imagine this added benefit to residents will continue to be a factor in leasing,” Houston added.
The 39-story brick and glass apartment tower has no shortage of competition as River North builds high-end rental units at an unprecedented rate. Just Wells Street alone has added Exhibit on Superior (also by Magellan), Marlowe, The Hensley, 640 N. Wells, and the first of four towers comprising the Old Town Park development.
- 39-story tower ready to rise over former Gino’s East site [Curbed Chicago]
- Pacific Standard Time Is an Ode to Midcentury California Cool [Eater Chicago]
- Previous River North coverage [Curbed Chicago]