2 Chez: My Visit With Todd Hohulin

Photo by Kaleb Johnson

Photo by Kaleb Johnson

by Bill More

--- 2 Chez Restaurant, Peoria, IL.

Did you ever get the feeling when you meet someone that they are exactly where they are supposed to be in life, that they are doing what they were meant to be, that they know it, and that they are comfortable in their skin and can foresee a solid future doing what they are doing? Guess what? I have too. I met with Todd Hohulin, Chef/Owner of 2 Chez Restaurant in Peoria.  http://www.2chezrestaurant.com/. Todd likes meeting people. 

Todd, age 40, has been in the restaurant business some 22 years. Yes, you read that right. 

He was shocked when he did the math, reminding me that he has been at it way longer than most --- even at his young years. After a solid stint as manager at Rizzi’s Restaurant on Sheridan Todd and his wife figured it was time to find a spot so they could open their restaurant. While they looked at several options in Peoria, they landed on their then and current location at Mt. Hawley Shopping Center at Pioneer Parkway and Knoxville. The former owners still had their original spot --- Chez Willy’s in Galesburg --- and wanted to concentrate their energies at that single location. They sold to the Hohulins, and Todd knew what to do. They had the funds to open this spot and with his connections to suppliers, were advised and guided along the way. Originally they had planned to change the name to one they had selected. Their account was down to about 

$500 and there was no money to make another sign---no new name.  

2 Chez stands today and they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

When asked about food trends when Todd started, again, about 22 years ago, he told me that Chinese was big, Italian was just starting out in Peoria. Both ethnic areas made food from scratch, no Chinese buffets as they are now, and the Italian was done in house, done right, and satisfying. He is convinced that the way to success is old world comfort food done right, with timely tweaks from talented professionals. Farm To Table Restaurants are a big trend today and he sees that trend continuing as well. 

All dishes at 2 Chez are made to order, no sauces made in advance, no foods grilled or sautéed in advance, meals are made In The Pan. Sauces are critical and Todd has that talent mastered. One new thing he sees today is that dietary restrictions are far, far more common than in the past and attributes that to the fact that customers really are paying more attention to what they eat. He accommodates all he can and said there was one weekend night recently where virtually every table for the night had some restriction on their menu choice. He served his customers’ needs well that night. 

His future prediction is that people will still want the best product at a reasonable price. 

Consistency is the long-term element of restaurant success. His restaurant is a team effort since he is on the floor cooking, planning, cleaning, right along with his crew. 

His cook/line staff is terrific and when he finds them straying just a bit with a preparation he guides them toward the tried and true center since he knows how that recipe really works. Success is in the process. 

He is so very thankful for his customers. His goal was to provide a great local neighborhood restaurant where his regulars are welcome to visit the kitchen and say ‘hello’, where they feel welcome to dine on a regular basis not simply for special events in their lives. Happy being his own boss he has no disappointments in his current situation. He wants you to visit ---- the kitchen door is always open.