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Episode Info: An Interview with Paul Virant of Vie Restaurant and Perennial Virant Chicago- 023 What began as a tradition at home growing up blossomed into a successful career for Chef Paul Virant.  Food was a big part of growing up for Chef Virant.  Both of his parents were good cooks and since they lived in the country just outside of St. Louis, meals were home cooked and full of fresh ingredients.  Fresh milk acquired from the farm down the street and fresh vegetables from their garden were regular staples in the Virant home.  Those experiences help captivate Chef Virant and led him onto the path he walks now as one of America's best chefs. Aside from being the Chef/Owner of several top restaurants in Chicago, Chef Virant is a cookbook author.  His cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking With Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux, ties directly into his childhood.  Canning and preserving was an annual ritual in his home and one he grew to embrace.  Throughout his career, Chef Virant has continued to keep the art of preservation as an integral part of his menus so the cookbook was a natural extension.  The cookbook writing process was challenging yet very rewarding, Chef Virant said during our interview. Baking was also a big part of growing up and Chef Virant says he vividly remembers the sourdough starter that was ever present during his childhood.  That same starter is the mother of the sourdough starter Chef Virant uses at his restaurants, Vie Restaurant and Perennial Virant.  Those experiences growing up were the triggers that made him want to consider a career with food. As Paul Virant got into high school, he began seeking out his first jobs and naturally he decided to get into restaurants.  Chef Virant procured a job at The Smokehouse Market and Annie Gunn's, a culinary landmark in St. Louis.  Virant said he worked his way up from the bottom and was immediately enthralled with all the Smokehouse does.  The Smokehouse Market makes homemade beef jerky, smoked trout and bratwursts, yet you can also get fine dining dishes like dry aged beef tartare, heritage chicken, quail, and a wide range of top cuts of beef. Working at The Smokehouse Market exposed Paul Virant to a wide range of cooking styles and techniques.  More than that it solidified his love for food and his desire to become a chef.  After high school, Chef Virant studied nutrition at West Virginia Wesleyan College.  After studying in a traditional college s
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