John Manion, Executive Chef/Owner
It all began when John Manion moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, when he was 8 years old. With his family he spent the following 5 years soaking in the culture and, most importantly, the food of a place very far from home. While Manion always felt more at home in restaurant kitchens, where he’d worked since age 15, he went on to study English and political science at Marquette University and took a job at a public relations firm in Wash., DC, after college. After a short time, he felt compelled to pursue his love of cooking full-time, so he moved to Chicago to attend the College of Culinary Arts at Kendall College. Recalling the beachside joints of Brazil, Manion, a 20-year veteran of the local restaurant scene, opened the West Loop’s La Sirena Clandestina in 2012. In 2016, he continued his culinary journey with El Che Steakhouse & Bar, a love letter to his travels in Argentina interpreted through the Buenos Aires tradition of live-flame cooking. Manion’s passion for South American flavors animates the spirited dishes and sultry ambiance of both of his restaurants. El Che Steakhouse & Bar has earned a coveted three-star rating from the Chicago Tribune. In 2017, Manion was nominated for “Chef of the Year” at the Jean Banchet Awards and was recognized as a “Master of the Flame” by Phil Vettel in the Tribune’s “Critic’s Choice Dining Awards.”
Daniel Boyd, Partner/Owner
Not everyone can say the 2008 economic downturn had a positive impact on their career. But for Daniel Boyd, who has a background in real estate construction, design and finance, the recession and a serendipitously timed friendship with chef John Manion prompted him to pursue a longtime goal of opening a restaurant. Boyd led the design, construction and execution, while Manion oversaw the culinary concept and creative direction, and conceptualization became reality with the opening of La Sirena Clandestina, a Brazilian-inspired restaurant in the fall of 2012. With the success of the restaurant and their partnership, Manion and Boyd, who is also the founder and principal at Mercurius Design-Development, a real estate firm focused on the acquisition, design and development of commercial properties with a focus on the arts and hospitality, began looking for a second concept. In late 2014, a fortuitous turn of events led to taking possession of the first floor at 845 W. Washington St., a space ripe with history and character. El Che Steakhouse & Bar opened in the summer of 2016 and earned a number of stellar reviews in addition to nominations for several local and national “best new” lists and awards. Boyd is also partner in Funkenhausen, a German-meets-American South restaurant in West Town, which opened in August 2018.