"I don't want to scare anyone," Bonczyk said. "I'll just add a little more flair."
"It was a unique undertaking," Bonczyk said. "We really got our hands dirty."
Chicago was always meant to be a temporary home for Bonczyk. He followed his wife there while she attended grad school, and he seems to have made the most of his time in the Windy City. In addition to Nana, Bonczyk cooked at a small soul food restaurant called CJ's, and served as interim chef to help turn around a struggling restaurant called NXXT.
Bartmann calls Bonczyk the "Prodigal Son chef." When he left home after high school, he headed to Lake Tahoe to live with friends and work in a snowboard shop. He even had an amateur sponsorship to snowboard through his employer. But the gig didn't stick. He worked at Lake Tahoe restaurants during the summer months, and he's stayed in the kitchen ever since. At his parents' suggestion, Bonczyk attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Bonczyk arrived at Bryant-Lake Bowl last April. He's been working with the outgoing chef, who is taking a break after 10 years and reportedly leaving the restaurant on good terms.
Looking forward, Bonczyk expects to gradually rework the menu and add new sandwiches and entrees. Watch for new ingredients from local farmers.
"I'm sourcing a really fantastic local cheese through Otter Creek," he said.