On his feet in many Chicago restaurants. From his humble beginnings in Oak Brook at Annie's of Santa Fe to the Landing and Tallgrass in Lockport, he ascended the fine dining ladder to work with Don Yamouchi at Carlos and then most recently with the Carlucci team. Perhaps most notably, he was the opening chef and partner at Meritage in Bucktown where he received three stars from both the Tribune and the Sun Times. He modernized the menu at Vivere in the Loop and then achieved four stars as the Chef at Courtright's in Willow Springs, during his five year tenure there. If you've ever had his food, then you understand what Jonathan refers to when he says that his menus are "the balance of restraint and pushing the envelope."
At this point in his career, Chef Harootunian is drawn to the teaching and mentoring process. At the end of the day he says, "I am a cook's cook and am attracted to the dysfunction and adrenaline pumping energy in the kitchen." His leadership style has been well received at the Harvest Room where he helps the young cooks keep their passion for cooking alive. He allows them the opportunity to create and to do what they are best at. He treats everyone fairly and with respect and it mirrors back. He is a bridge builder between the front and back of the house and has established a transparency in systems and operations which brings everyone into the loop, especially the owners who are not working in the kitchen and whose eyes are on many other aspects of the business.