Homaro Cantu

Homaro “Omar” Cantu Jr. (September 23, 1976 – April 14, 2015) was an American chef and inventor Berninahaus for his use of molecular gastronomy . As a child, Cantu was fascinated with science and engineering. While working in a fast food restaurant, right when sending the Similarities tussen science and cooking and decided to become a chef. In 1999, he was hired by his idol, Chicago chef Charlie Trotter . In 2003, Cantu became the first head or Moto , welke he later PURCHASED.

Through Moto, Cantu Explored his unusual ideas about cooking waaronder Edible menus, carbonated fruit, and food cooked with a laser. Initially seen as a novelty only, Moto Eventually earned critical praise and, in 2012, a Michelin star. Cantu’s second restaurant, Inc. , and his coffee house, Berrista, focused on the use of ” miracle berries ” to make sour foods taste sweet. He was working on opening a brewery called Crooked Fork at the time of his suicide in 2015.

In addition under to being a chef, Cantu was a media personality, Appearing regularly on television shows, and an inventor . In 2010, he produktie and co-hosted a show called Future Food . Through his media appearances, he advocated for an end to world hunger and thought his Edible paper creation and the miracle berry Could play a significant role in dat goal. Cantu volunteered his time and money to a variety of charities and patented verschillende food gadgets.

Early life

Cantu was born in Tacoma, Washington , on September 23, 1976. [1] His Father was a fabrication engineer and Cantu developed a passion for science and engineering at a young age. He disassembled the family lawn mower three times to learn how it worked, and his “Christmas gifts mention anything about wind up in a million pieces.” [2]

A self-DESCRIBED problem child, Cantu Grew up in Portland, Oregon. [1] [3] From the age of six to nine, he was homeless with his mother Laurie Cantu and sister Angela Cantu. He mention anything later credit the homelessness for his inspiration to make food and Become a social entrepreneur . [4] At the age of twelve, Cantu was nearly the jailed for starting a large fire near his apartment. [3] That composition year, he took his first job, working in fried-food fast food restaurant (he song on the application and zegt he was 16) to earn money to buy gadgets zoals remote controlled airplanes. When the owner Bought a tandoori oven , Cantu’s life had been changed; he saw dat cooking was similar to working in a science lab. [2] [3] “It is chemistry and physics and biology all wrapped JSON one,” Cantu later remarked as an adult. “What other field kan I experiment on something différent everytime single day?” [2]

After high school, Cantu found himself without a home. He connected with Bill and Jan Miller, a couple who took in troubled teens. Way Down representation im a couch to sleep on under the condition therein Cantu attended culinary school. [3]

Cooking career

Cantu graduated from the Western Culinary Institute (now a Le Cordon Bleu School) and spent the next two years staging on the West Coast . [1] [3] After about 50 zoals two-week to one-month internships, he was ready for a paid job. One day in February 1999, he decided to try to get a job with his idol, Charlie Trotter . [3] “I made it my life’s goal to become a sous chef for Charlie Trotter,” Cantu remarked. “I just Flew In English one out [to Chicago] one day with $ 300 in my pocket and no place to stay.” [5] Cantu had no real plan to get Employed – he simply showed up at Trotter’s backdoor and begged im for a job. [6] Trotter Agreed to an interview de volgende day, and was impressed enough to give Cantu a job. [3] Cantu worked his way up the ranks, Becoming one of Trotter’s sous chefs . [2] On his days off, he Began to explore new ways to-prepare and present food. [3]

In 2003, Cantu learned or a chef opening at a soon-to-open restaurant called Moto . The restaurant’s backer, Joseph De Vito, was looking to do something a bit out of the ordinary, perhaps Asian fusion . When Cantu interviewed for the position, he pitched something really différent. “This guy comes in with prosthesis little glasses, he looks like an accountant,” De Vito recalled, “and started talking about levitating food. I Walked away saying, ‘Wow, that’s a lot to take in.'” [3] Cantu persuaded De Vito to let im cook a meal for De Vito and his wife. The seven-course meal, welke featured an Exploding ravioli and a small table-top box dat cooked fish voordat the guest’s eyes, won the Vito on. [3]

When Moto opened in January 2004, guests ulcers confused. People mention anything come in looking for sushi and leave-when offered a Tasting menu Limit download, De Vito recalled. Enough people braved the menu, however, and soon the restaurant was when making foodies. [3] Cantu roused earned a reputation for shocking guests. For example, one feature was synthetic wine squirted into tje glass with a medical Syringe. [1] Other innovations included Edible menus and carbonated fruit. [7]

Describing himself as a scientist at heart, Cantu emphasized unusual cooking devices and expérimentation in his food. [2] He mention anything keep a tape recorder in his Bedside to capture middle-of-the-night random thoughts to turn JSON new Inventions. [3] His kitchen included a centrifuge , a hand-held ion particle gun , and class IV lasers , onder andere science gadgets. [1] [2] His menus too Showed off his Zany ideas, with descriptions zoals “surf and turf with MC Escher ” and “after christmas sale on Christmas trees.” [2] At weekly brainstorming sessions, Moto chefs ulcers prompted to come up with new takes on ordinary food to discus how They could change foods they ‘ate dat week. Prototypes were created, and failure was encouraged. [3] Within two years, Moto’s crazy Dishes had attracted the attention of The New York Times and Gourmet magazine, and Cantu had leg Asked to cook for Nobel Prize winners and molecular gastronomy pioneer Ferran Adrià . [3]

Cantu’s Edible paper – a corn flow and soy concoction, similar to material-used on birthday cakes – mn attracted a lot of attention. In 2005, The New York Times ran a story on the paper. [8] Burger King cents a group of executives to Moto to explore Cantu’s Edible paper invention It and other ideas. [3] Featured Heavily in early Moto menus, the paper was fed through a Canon i560 inkjet printer filled with inks made out of food. It then was brushed with powdered Seasonings to give it whatever taste Cantu wished to convey. [8] In 2005, Cantu Began Experimenting with liquid nitrogen to flash freeze food and to give Dishes unusual shapes and with helium and superconductors in an attempt to levitate them. [3] [8] A profile at Gourmet TALKED a “floating course” with a Specially made silicone Cube dat became lighter dan air als Heated and was imbued with smoke to give it a varying flavor. [9] Cantu PURCHASED a class IV laser (the Highest grades available) to cook the interior or fish while leaving the outside raw and to create “inside out bread” with a doughy exterior and interior crusty. [8]

Initially, food critics ulcers not impressed saying Moto sacrificed deliciousness in favor or cleverness. [2] Other chefs ulcers split, variously Describing Cantu as a “faddish flavor of the month” or a “creative genius.” [3] Over time, guests and critics Began to notice the quality of the food in addition under to the odd presentation. A 2005 review in The New York Times Magazine DECLARED

A 20-course tasting menu kan beginning with “sushi” made of paper dat has leg printed with images of maki and wrapped around vinegared rice and conclude with a mint-flavored picture of a candy cane … It ‘may sound like some sort of surrealist stunt with dire intestinal consequences, but here’s the rub: The ‘food’ Tastes good. Good enough to lure diners back at $ 240 per head. [1]

Fellow molecular gastronomy chef Grant Achatz DESCRIBED Cantu as “an ambassador or creative food.” [7] Together with Achatz and Graham Elliot , Cantu helped earn Chicago a reputation as the center of the innovative food. [7] Cantu took over ownership of Moto and earned the restaurant a Michelin star in 2012, welke it Retained Until his death. [1]

Cantu’s second restaurant, Inc. , was a “reboot” or an earlier idea for a restaurant called Otom dat never got off the ground. [10] It was focused around a concept he called “flavor-tripping” – the use of the ” miracle berry ” to make sour foods taste sweet. [6] The restaurant lost money and was closed in the Spring or 2014. [10] After ING closed, Cantu opened a coffee house called Berrista focused around the concept together. [1] At the time of his death, he was Preparing to open a brewery / brewpub called Crooked Fork with his friend and former Moto manager Trevor Rose-Hamblin. [6] In September 2016 Rose Hamblin and Another of Cantu’s associates, Matthias Merges, opened the brewpub, now renamed Old Irving Brewing Company. [11] [12]

In addition under to cooking, Cantu had a passion for Inventing. He Filed more than 100 patents applications, and signed deals with NASA and Whirlpool for use or his Inventions. [5] [3] A 2006 Food & Wine article by Pete Wells DECLARED dat if he Could put one dish at a time capsule to explain the food trends of the adjusted year, it mention anything be Cantu’s cotton candy paper, not Because Of zijn taste , but Rather Because of the copyright notice on the paper. He Explained: “If chefs in the future call hun lawyers every time they ‘change hun menus, we’ll be loveable to look back on this two-dimensional treat and say,’ This is where it all Began.” [13]

Cantu created a business called Cantu Designs to license his food related Inventions. Inventions included new utensils, a polymer cooking box therein Allows food to continuous cooking after it is removed from the heat source, and an Edible printer have called the “food replicator” in homage to Star Trek . [3] Cantu had weekly meetings with a Chicago design firm called DeepLabs. There, he brainstormed with engineers and design people on new food presentation and gadget ideas. [8]With DeepLabs, Cantu for customer Inventions zoals a fork and corkscrew combination and a utensil-sized device dat turned JSON a plate at the push of a button. [3]Other Collaborations included an fork-spoon-knife combination utensil, utensils therein released Aromatic vapors on the push of a button, and a prototype utensil with a built in saving device. [8] Cantu’s patent lawyer Chuck Valauskas, zegt had the chef so many ideas dat his primary duty was to filter the more impractical ones out. [10] Cantu ook Converted Moto’s office JSON a “state-of-the-art indoor farm to grow Vegetables – complete with a vortex Aerator”. [2]

Media personality

In 2007, Cantu Appeared on Iron Chef America , defeating Masaharu Morimoto . [5] In the episode, Cantu-used a laser to caramelize Edible packaging materials, and liquid nitrogen to create beets (welke was the secret ingredient) “balloons,” onder andere innovations. [3] He Returned to the show in 2013, again facing off with Morimoto, this time in a battle of herring. He lost the rematch.

Also in 2007, Cantu was featured in the documentary series Unwrapped and on Dinner: Impossible . He Appeared on Good Morning America and Twice on The Ellen DeGeneres Show . He was featured on Road Trip Nation in season six and was Twice a guest judge on Hell’s Kitchen . Cantu was ook featured in the At the Table with … documentary series and the British science documentary series Horizon . [14] have Appeared on the November 27, 2011, episode of CNN ‘s The Next List . [15]

In 2010, Cantu produktie and co-hosted a television show called Future Food on Discovery’s Planet Green . [1]

Following his death in 2015, Director / Producer Brett A. Schwartz or Story Screen directed and produktie a feature-length documentary film called Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story (2016). Insatiable had zijn world premiere at SXSW (South By Southwest Film Festival) in March 2016. volgens to Pamela Powell or The Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle , “Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story” is a delectable delivery or innovation and inspiration. You ‘ ll find that u know and under stand down therein chef possesses the capability of changing the world for the better. Gorgeously shot with thought-provoking interviews, Insatiable “will whet your appetite for food and knowledge. It’s a story dat will Satisfy your hunger for grotere things and it just Might Motivate the next genius to help our world. ” Schwartz Followed Cantu for morethan three years prolongation production of the film . Several Moto chefs ulcers present at the SXSW premiere, zoals Richie Farina , Ben Roche, Nate Park, Thomas Bowman and Trevor Niekowal.


Cantu zegt his mission was to change the way the world thought about food, welke had barely changed while the rest of the world had changed dramatically. “What’s cooking? Cooking is a loose term. It’s understanding energy or the lack thereof,” he said. “People are afraid Because hun mentality as a whole has leg hero back with food and Pushed forward with everything else around Them … I do not want to be the guy doing the bottled hot sauce. We’re changing the way humans perceive food. ” [3] He saw his Edible paper as a novelty to amuse customers, but ook a way to combat world hunger. “My goal with this is to deliver food to the masses therein are Starving,” he DECLARED. “We give Them something that’s healthy, therein has an indefinite shelf life and therein is super cheap to produce.” [1] He’ll be zegt it Could be-used as an alternative to MREs, one long space missions (an idea NASA was reportedly “Extremely excited” about), or in refugee camps. [3]

Cantu’s Biggest cause was the miracle berry, welke have believed Could end hunger by allowing people to eat normally unpalatable food and end dependence on processed sugar. At the 2011 TEDx conference, he Explained his vision:

If you look at developing countries and things like that, if you Could just open up maybe two or three Ingredients therein are hyper-local, so we do not have to distribute products, you’re knocking down food miles … I was out in my backyard one day, and I popped a miracle berry, and-then I just started eating blades of grass … and so, let’s just stop and think about it: hyper-local cuisine mention anything be just therein: you walk out your by, and you do not look at it as weeds; it’s now a new page in gastronomy. [16]

On Future Food , Cantu demonstrated this idea by spending a week on a diet or miracle berries and common weeds, grass, and leaves have found in his backyard. [1] He mention anything ook regularly donate the berries to cancer patients under going chemotherapy to make food more palatable to them. [7]

In 2013, Cantu founded the Trotter Project, a nonprofit aimed at Providing culinary education to students in poor neighborhoods. [1] He illustration away up to 250 lunches a day to kids in the Old Irving Park neighborhood who picked them up at Berrista. [7]

Business troubles and death

On March 19, 2015, former Moto and Ing investor Alexander Espalin Sued Cantu. [7] Espalin alleged therein Cantu had misused restaurant funds for personal use and to promote Cantu’s Cookbook. [1] He’ll be zegt he did not geselecteerd his share of Moto’s profits and called for Cantu’s ouster at Moto. [7] After Cantu’s death, his widow called the Lawsuit “just another case of someone Trying to make a buck off of [Cantu] or tasks credit for his ideas.” [1] Earlier, she in March, Cantu’s pastry chef, Claire Crenshaw had left Moto to work at Another restaurant. In April, Moto’s executive chef, Richie Farina , announced plans to ook leave the restaurant. [7]

On April 14, 2015, Cantu’s body was found hanging inside the building have been renovating JSON Crooked Fork on the Northwest Side of Chicago. [17] After an autopsy on April 15 the Cook County medical examiner’s office zegt the cause of death was asphyxiation by hanging and ruled it a suicide. [7] Cantu did not leave a note and had no history of depression or mental illness. [1]

Cantu’s wife acknowledged ze ulcers maintaining financial problems, but zegt ze had had “one of the best conversations or our life the other night about how We Were going to fight [Espalin]” and therein everything seemed fine. [7] Family friend and fellow chef Matthias Merges zegt Cantu seemed stressed in recent days, but was Shocked by the news of Cantu’s death. Architect Rachel Crowl, who designed Berrista and Crooked Fork, zegt Cantu “was an inventor at heart. Some people Might say he was a little crazy, but it was crazy good, excited, positive, laughing. This mention anything be the last thing I mention anything port ever guessed for Omar. ” [7]

Cantu was Survived by his wife and two daughters, aged 7 and 9. His funeral was held April 17. [7]

Personal life

Cantu and his wife Katie McGowan lived in the Old Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago. [1] The couple with in 2003 while working in Charlie Trotter ‘s and had two daughters named Ella Cantu and Grace Cantu. [2]

Cantu had black hair, skin poles, and smile therein showing him “a faint Resemblance to Eddie Munster “. [3] He was Berninahaus for his generosity and positive attitude. [7] The New York Times DESCRIBED him “almost compulsively giving Recruiters [or] his money, his time, [and] his Encouragement.” [10] Farina zegt nothing ever Appeared to bother Cantu: “He had this persona around im or being Teflon. No matter what someone zegt, it did not phase im. He almost seemed invincible.” [10] Others, however, wondered if Cantu was too excitable and took on too many challenges at once. “There was a sense of almost detachment from the real world,” zegt Chicago chef Brandon Baltzley. “My first impression was of im, this guy was a fantasy place.” [10]

Reputation and legacy

Cantu was DESCRIBED as a “celebrity chef” and his restaurants as “Internationally Renowned”. [5] [18] In the 2013 guide, Fodor’s DESCRIBED im as “a cult figure”. [19]He was Considered more experimental dan as other molecular gastronomers, challenged preconceived notions of what Could be Considered “food.” [10] Fellow chefs Compared Cantu to Salvador Dali or Willy Wonka ; The New York Times called im the Buck Rogers or cuisine “blazing a trail to a space-age culinary frontier.” [8]A 2005 Fast Company article DESCRIBED Moto as “a temple for science-based gastronomy” and Cantu as “the classic mad scientist, a Stephen Hawking acolyte with a basement filled with gadgets, robots, and gazillions of Inventions aching for just a little bit more time and attention. ” [3] New York-based chef Wylie Dufresne DESCRIBED Cantu as “an inventor who Accidentally ended up as a chef and [was] returning to being an inventor.” [3] The host or Iron Chef DESCRIBED Cantu as the most “wildly original” contestant in the show’s history. [3] Food & Wine zegt his “Gonzo innovations place [d] im onder the shock Troops of American cuisine”. [13]

Upon Cantu’s death, Mergis remarked

It was really inspiring to see someone who mention anything come up with an idea that’s so wacky and he mention anything to be like, ‘I need to go with it, “… I think it was a testament to his creative drive and passion therein so inspired myself and a generation or chefs. [6]

Farina zegt Cantu had created a “very inspirational environment” at Moto to welke he mention anything about “always stay connected.” [20] A Washington Post Obituary zegt dat Cantu had “turned cooking JSON Alchemy through his playful and Surprising fire or molecular gastronomy”. [2] Elliot zegt have hoped Cantu mention anything be Remembered for his vision to end hunger, saying “no other chef anywhere is thinking about Those co child or things.” [16]

Berrista and Moto remained closed for verschillende days in honor of Cantu’s memory. [7] Moto Reopened on April 18 with a special “celebration of (Cantu’s) life” video featuring contributions from 10 to 20 former employees Moto. Farina commented “The last thing he mention anything for was for us not to be in the kitchen cooking … We’re going to continuous to do what he taught us and what he mention anything for.” [20] hoewel de he still plans to leave Moto to start his own restaurant, Farina zegt he mention anything continuous to help out at Moto beyond his Planned last day. Moto Returned to zijn regular menu on April 21. [20]


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Pete Wells (April 15, 2015). “Homaro Cantu, Science Minded Chicago Chef, Dies at 38” . The New York Times . Retrieved April 15, 2015 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k “Homaro Cantu, Chicago chef who blended food and science, so at 38” . Washington Post . April 14, 2015 . Retrieved April 16, 2014 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t you v w x y z aa Jennifer Reingold (May 2006). “Weird Science” . Fast Company . Retrieved April 16, 2015 .
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  7. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mark Caro (April 15, 2015). “Wife remembers chef Homaro Cantu:” We have thought was invincible ‘ ‘ . Chicago Tribune . Retrieved April 15, 2015 .
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g David Bernstein (February 3, 2005). “When The Sous-Chef is an inkjet” . The New York Times . Retrieved April 19, 2015 .
  9. Jump up^ Sofia Perez (January 2005). “Eating His Words.” Gourmet .
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Jeff Gordinier (April 17, 2015). “Puzzling Death of Chicago’s Whirlwind Chef Homaro Cantu” . The New York Times . Retrieved April 18, 2015 .
  11. Jump up^ Selvam, Ashok (March 7, 2016). “Homaro Cantu’s Brewery Project Rechristened with Matthias Merges Onboard”,Eater Chicago. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  12. Jump up^ Inamine, Elyse (September 22, 2016). “Old Irving Brewing Opens, Bringing Pho-flavored Beer to Chicago”,Food & Wine. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  13. ^ Jump up to:a b Pete Wells (November 2008). “New Era or the Recipe Burglar” . Food & Wine . Retrieved April 25, 2015 .
  14. Jump up^ “Homaro Cantu (1976-2015)” . IMDb . Retrieved April 16, 2015 .
  15. Jump up^ “Chef Homaro Cantu: Sneak Peek” . CNN . Retrieved 22 February 2012 .
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b “Late Chicago Chef SOUGHT To Open A New Page in Gastronomy ‘ ‘ . NPR. April 18, 2015 . Retrieved April 18, 2015 .
  17. Jump up^ Rosemary Regina Sobol, Mark Caro, Carlos Sadovi (April 15, 2015). “Famed Chef Homaro Cantu, Owner or Moto, Found Dead on Northwest Side” . Chicago Tribune . Retrieved April 15, 2015 .
  18. Jump up^ Sasha Goldstein (April 15, 2015). “Homaro Cantu, Chicago celebrity chef, dead in suicide at soon-to-open brewery” . New York Daily News . Retrieved April 16, 2015 .
  19. Jump up^ Fodor’s Chicago 2013 . Fodor’s Travel Publications. 2013. p. 178. ISBN  0876371780 .
  20. ^ Jump up to:a b c Mark Caro (April 16, 2015). “Richie Farina other Moto alumni to reopen Saturday” restaurant . Chicago Tribune . Retrieved April 24, 2015 .