Chris Thompson has spent more than half his life in kitchens. He’s held positions at two acclaimed restaurants in San Francisco, headed a new venture in the Hotel Teatro in Denver, and is now showcasing his expertise in Southern Italian cuisine as the executive chef of Coda di Volpe in Chicago’s thriving Southport Corridor neighborhood.
Born in Long Beach, California and raised in the resort town of Telluride, Colorado, Thompson’s his first job was as a short order cook at a lodge. This position allowed him to indulge in snowboarding during the day but we quickly found his true indulgent was in the controlled chaos of the kitchen. With a few prep cook positions under his belt, Thompson went on to his first opportunity in fine dining at Telluride’s Rustico Ristorante. He quickly found his niche at the Northern Italian eatery and began exploring charcuterie and the techniques of Italian cooking.
While living in Telluride, Thompson further honed his skills working at several Alchemy Concepts restaurants, apprenticing under chef Jake Linzinmeir beginning in 2001 and being promoted to chef de cuisine of Excelsior Café in 2005. There, Thompson became known for his seasonally-driven menus and creativity with both Italian and French-inspired food.
Motivated by the abundance of influential chefs in the Bay Area, Thompson moved to San Francisco in 2008 and spent three years at Spruce, a high-end restaurant in Presidio Heights known for its excellent charcuterie. Following his time in San Francisco, Thompson moved back to Colorado to open The Nickel, a Rocky Mountain heritage-inspired restaurant in Denver.
The opportunity to open his restaurant, Coda di Volpe, with hospitality veterans Billy Lawless of Gage Hospitality Group and Ryan O’Donnell is what drew him to Chicago. Thompson has always admired Chicago’s culinary scene and is happy to call the lakefront city his new home. Thompson brings his passion for the lesser-explored regions of Southern Italy to the menu at Coda di Volpe having traveled extensively throughout Italy including a recent 3-month visit. Thompson is well-versed in using and working with authentic Italian ingredients, helping Coda di Volpe become VPN-certified one of a select group of Chicago restaurants with the designation.