I moved to Chicago in 2000, and in twelve years I've had the great fortune and pleasure to play a number of roles in this excellent city I now call home: I've been a sommelier of an acclaimed restaurant; corporate wine director for a major restaurant group; and, of course, host of a TV show about restaurants you may have heard about. Often I've had to juggle several of these roles at the same time. Last year, I opened my own restaurant, The Boarding House. Being the owner and proprietor of a restaurant, to negotiate its four floors, two kitchens, and 500-bottle wine list and cellar, to train and manage its 100-person staff, seven days a week, is by far the most challenging, demanding, and rewarding thing I've ever done professionally. And, like with everything else I've been fortunate to be able to do in Chicago, I'm humbled by and grateful for the opportunity. I started the project with the intention of being as involved in the day-to-day operations as physically possible. It was important to me not to become one of those recognizable names you see on the door and never in the place when you come to dinner. I never wanted to make compromises in quality in the interest of expeditiousness, to make hasty decisions because I had other things to do and on my mind, to have to make the restaurant anything less than my sole priority. If I've learned anything from the many restaurants featured on Check, Please! over the last ten seasons I've been host of the show, it's that the details matter.
My restaurant has only been open a little over a month, and I can see already just how important it is for me to keep my work there my sole priority and professional responsibility. In order for me to be able to provide the best possible experience, to offer this city a restaurant like no other, I have to dedicate myself fully and completely to The Boarding House, its terrific staff, and its wonderful and lively guests. To this end, I've come to the bittersweet decision that this will be my last season as the host of Check, Please! Thank you to the show's creator David Manilow, Executive Producer VJ McAleer and the entire production team for the show at WTTW. You're a true cast of professionals and I'll count you as my dearest friends for life.
It's been a pleasure spending Friday nights with you for so many years, I thank you infinitely for your love and support, and I'll look forward to our next episode: pouring you a glass of wine at The Boarding House. Thank you.