Homaro Cantu, the chef behind Chicago's Moto restaurant, was found dead Tuesday, authorities told NBC Chicago.
The 38-year-old's body was transported from a building on the 4400 block of West Montrose Avenue where he planned an upcoming brewery. The Chicago Tribune reported Cantu was found hanging and that suicide was suspected.
"I was devastated," said Michael Taus of Taus Authentic, who knew Cantu for more than a decade. "I don't think there's anybody like Omar. I mean, he was shooting for the moon. He didn't know the word, 'No,' and he was just always experimenting. He was a mad scientist."
Cantu was the founder of Cantu Designs, a revolutionary food technology design firm, and executive chef of Moto, one of the nation's leading restaurants in the field of molecular gastronomy.
Cantu worked with famed chef Charlie Trotter from 1999 to 2003 before helping to open Moto in 2004 and later becoming its owner. Moto earned one Michelin star in 2014.
An emotional Cantu joined fellow famous chef alumni at Trotter’s memorial in 2013, including Graham Elliot, David LeFevre and Giuseppe Tentori. And after Trotter’s death, Cantu and other Trotter chef alums created the Trotter Project, a three-year capital campaign with dozens of former Trotter employees and family members.
Cantu served as president of the project aimed at mentoring high school and college students and teaching young children how to cook. It also served to keep Trotter’s restaurant in his ownership as a flagship for the project.
"I loved him dearly. It’s really terrible to see him go in this way. I’m going to miss him a lot," said Trevor Rose-Hamblin, Cantu’s friend and business partner. "The whole city — It’s not going to be the same place without him."