Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



Out LondonHouse Executive Chef Liz Sweeney talks industry, personal journey
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 1421 times since Thu Apr 14, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

During a recent conversation with Windy City Times, LondonHouse Executive Chef Liz Sweeney revealed several aspects of herself—all coming together to show a complex and open individual.

For example, she was quick to flash a smile and can be quite gregarious—especially when reminiscing about some facets of the journeys (physical and emotional) that she and her wife have taken over the past few years.

As for that physical trek, it has taken Sweeney to various places throughout the country.

Originally from North Dakota, Sweeney began her culinary career by studying at Portland's Western Culinary Institute. She then studied the culinary arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She later continued her education at Chicago's Roosevelt University, obtaining a master's degree in hospitality and tourism management.

Professionally, Sweeney worked as a sous chef at Chicago spots Cafe Ba Ba Reeba and Mon Ami Gabi before becoming executive chef at The Burger Point and culinary director at The Art Institutes. In 2018, she and her wife, June, decided to go to Hawaii after Sweeney was offered the chef de cuisine position at Merriman's Hawaii. "We wanted to do something in a different locale," Sweeney told Windy City Times. "My wife is a social worker and, at the time, she worked as a medical social worker. She saw a lot, observing all the secondary trauma. She's got a great heart, but we thought it was time for a change. It's such a nice, chill atmosphere there—almost healing."

However, that stay only lasted a year, as LondonHouse Chicago offered Sweeney a spot as executive chef. "June's mom, who's in Houston, was diagnosed with Parkinson's, and we were just too far in Hawaii in case something happened," Sweeney said. "I didn't know anyone in Houston. The past two and a half years, we were going back and forth between Houston and Chicago. (June moved back to Chicago last October, so the couple is finally back together.)

Like with practically every other business that caters to the public, the COVID pandemic resulted in a shutdown for LondonHouse—just months after Sweeney became executive chef. "We reopened in June of 2020 and there were, obviously, limited restrictions," she said. "Everything happens for a reason, and this is a fantastic opportunity. Plus, Chicago is a beautiful city, even though it's go, go, go."

Regarding her wife, Sweeney revealed how they met: "It was Dollar Drink Night at [onetime Chicago nightclub] Spin, in 2008. My friend Tim likes to take me out the day before my birthday. When he told me where he was taking me, I said, 'Oh, God. I can already feel the hangover.' Then toward last call, she and I met and hit it off. She had this twinkle in her eye. I know it sounds cheesy, but it was like time slowed down. We both say we're both very lucky.

"We also like to do the same things. We go biking together and she runs my [butt] around on the tennis court. I don't think I would have picked it up if we hadn't moved to Hawaii; they're really competitive here in Chicago."

Sweeney also revealed other traits during the conversation. For example, she is a woman of caution: She still wears masks inside elevators because, as she put it, "you don't know where other people have been, and I don't want to endanger my employees." (In all honesty, this writer agrees with her.) She hasn't even seen her favorite movies at the theater because the COVID pandemic has her being cautious.

Besides, if Sweeney gets sick and can't come in to work, she can't oversee the production of the dishes so many have come to love.

She also revealed frustration and strength during a discussion about the male-dominated chef industry. "I've never understood why the vast majority of chefs are men," Sweeney said. "There's even a PBS documentary that mentions that 51% of culinary-school graduates are women but only 7% of us go on to become executive chefs or entrepreneurs. Even in my career, I've never had a woman executive chef I've worked for. I was usually the only woman and, even when I started here, I was the only woman in the kitchens.

"I really don't get it because who's responsible for a lot of our first food memories? It was usually mothers and aunties. I've never understood it—but it also goes back to the question of why there hasn't been a woman president in this country when there have been woman leaders in other countries.

"It's frustrating because there are double standards. They feel women are too high-strung and emotional—but if you take those same characteristics, a man is strong and passionate. It's not fair. It's important that women have a seat at this table."

Regarding how that thought-provoking percentage can change in favor of women, Sweeney said she constantly talks about the issue and has been a chef mentor at Benito Juarez High School. "Seeing people in that role is so important," she added. "As my wife says, representation matters and you want to see someone in that role. My executive sous chef is a woman—and we hired another sous chef in January, and she happened to be a woman. I would hope that people just look at our resumes as qualified applicants, but [sometimes] that doesn't happen. And it's so important to pay it forward."

Sweeney also said she feels the same way about sexuality. "My wife said, 'You're so open about being gay.' I said, 'I want to be open about it because if we keep talking about it, it becomes normal for everyone else.' We love just like everyone else."

And what has Sweeney learned about herself during the past couple years, when everyone has had time to self-reflect? "I think I've learned a lot about self-reliance and being pushed in a lot of different directions," she said. "I've also learned how strong love can be [when my wife and I were physically apart]. I've also learned the challenges of being a strong leader."

Sweeney did exhibit one last trait during the talk: hope, regarding Chicago. "I was excited for the food when we moved back—but then the pandemic and nothing was open late anymore," she said with a smile. "I hope the late-night dining scene will eventually come back."

This article shared 1421 times since Thu Apr 14, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Let's Talk presents "Let's Talk & Celebrate" foodie bash March 2
--From a press release - (CHICAGO) — Kick off Women's History Month with a "Let's Talk & Celebrate" Gold Glamour Gourmet bash by 35+ Chicagoland Let's Talk Womxn restaurateurs on Thursday, March 2, at Moe's Cantina in River North fr ...

Gay News

Lesbian Singles Over 45 event Feb. 11
--From a press release - Queer Ministries of Lincoln United Methodist Church (LUMC) is hosting the 1st Annual Lesbian Singles Event Over 45 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.Lincoln United Methodist Church Community Center located a ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: Incumbent 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden talks accomplishments, second term goals
ELECTIONS 2023: Incumbent 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden discusses accomplishments, second term goals By Carrie Maxwell This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023: 49th Ward challenger Belia Rodriguez on why running, differences from incumbent
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. Belia Rodriguez is a lifelong Chicagoan who attended Chicago Public Schools. ...

Gay News

HRC on end of Mpox Public Health Emergency: Today we enter a new phase in a continuing fight
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — marked the end of the Mpox Public ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2023 Jessie Fuentes: 26th Ward candidate talks mental health, LGBTQ+ Chicagoans
This is part of a series of interviews Windy City Times is running on LGBTQ+ candidates in the 2023 municipal elections taking place Feb. 28. The 2023 race to represent Chicago's 26th Ward—which includes parts of ...

Gay News

SAVOR Le Petit Chef: A singular, (literally) animated experience
There are experiences and then there are EXPERIENCES. If you're familiar with those recent Immersive Van Gogh and Kahlo events, imagine that transferred to a table setting and you have an idea of what's involved with ...

Gay News

Lesbian named presiding judge of Cook County Circuit Court's Pretrial Division
--From a press release - CHICAGO (January 27) — The Hon. Mary C. Marubio has been named the acting presiding judge of the Pretrial Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans said. Marubio (who Windy ...

Gay News

FDA to relax rules of blood donations for gay, bisexual men
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly slated to lift restrictions on blood donations from sexually active gay and bisexual men. However, there's at least one stipulation, The Advocate reported: A gay or bisexual ...

Gay News

Lesbian tennis player ends 23-year career
Australian tennis player Sam Stosur has called it a career after back-to-back losses at the Australian Open, Yahoo! Sport noted. Stosur—an out lesbian who played for 23 years—lost in the first round of the women's doubles ...

Gay News

SAVOR Bacon Lover's Brunch at Frontier; Chicago Restaurant Week
"Bacon's the best. Even the frying of bacon sounds like applause."—Jim Gaffigan Judging from that quote, revered comic Jim Gaffigan would certainly have had a lot of fun at the Bacon Lover's Brunch at Frontier (1072 ...

Gay News

SAVOR Uproar; Feb. 2 benefit dinner
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an uproar can be "a loud and impassioned noise or disturbance" or "a public expression of protest and outrage." Scott Horwitch—the owner of Old Town spot Uproar (1252 N. Wells ...

Gay News

Rogers Park's R Public House's door destroyed by homophobic vandal
The lesbian-owned restaurant and bar R Public House, 1508 W. Jarvis Ave., was targeted by a hammer-wielding man yelling anti-LGBTQ slurs at about 5:40 p.m. during happy hour on Monday, Jan. 16. Owners (and married couple) ...

Gay News

GLAAD announces nominees for 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards
--From a press release. Video below - Jan. 18, 2023 - GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced the nominees for the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Indigo Girls, LGBTQ+ films, GALECA nods, Jeremy Pope
Indigo Girls will perform at an opening-night celebration for the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19 in Park City, Utah, Variety reported. The Grammy-winning lesbian folk-rock duo are debuting their new documentary, It's Only Life After All, ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.