Homaro Cantu’s Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant Moto will reopen this weekend with the help of alumni guest chefs who have worked alongside Cantu over the years.
Moto executive chef Richie Farina told the Chicago Tribune Thursday morning that the restaurant’s reopening for Friday and Saturday night will serve as a celebration of Cantu’s life, adding that he believed the “last thing” his late friend would have wanted was for them not to be in the kitchen cooking.
Chef Homaro Cantu, who artfully blended science and fine dining, was found dead on Tuesday. His death was ruled a suicide by the Cook County medical examiner's office, which said Wednesday that Cantu had hanged himself. Cantu's body was found Tuesday in a building on the northwest side where he had planned to open a brewery by this summer.
The 38-year-old, one of Chicago's most renowned chefs, turned cooking into alchemy through his brand of molecular gastronomy at Moto, the restaurant he led in the city's West Loop neighborhood.
His customers dined on edible menus, carbonated fruit and a fish preparation that cooked in a tabletop polymer box, among other foods.
His kitchen featured a centrifuge and a hand-held ion particle gun. His menus offered up items with intriguing titles such as "surf and turf with mc escher" and "after Christmas sale on Christmas trees." And he dreamed up fantastical propositions for everything from alleviating hunger with air-dropped edible leaflets to delivering food to astronauts on Mars.
Cantu grew up in Portland, Oregon, and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu. He worked in nearly 50 kitchens on the West Coast and then moved to Chicago, where he spent four years working for famed chef Charlie Trotter, eventually rising to the position of sous chef before leaving to open Moto. Trotter died in 2013.
He built a state of the art indoor farm to grow vegetables — complete with a vortex aerator — inside what used to be Moto's office. He claimed to be the first chef to zap food with a class IV laser, and preached the virtues of the West African miracle berry for sweetening food and eliminating the need to use sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Describing himself as a scientist at heart, Cantu was untroubled by questions about whether his creations were more science project or true fine cuisine, telling the Associated Press in a 2006 interview of his dishes, "I don't care what it winds up being, as long as it's fun."
Services for Cantu are scheduled to be held Friday at St. Viator Parish, 4140 W. Addison. Visitation will start at 11 a.m., with the funeral following at 1 p.m.
SUICIDE PREVENTION: If you know someone who needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).