Michael Armstrong has risen from a nine-year-old experimenting with different blends of seasoning for ramen noodles, to helming the kitchen at one of the nation’s busiest kitchens, and now leading the culinary development of one of the most sought out Chicago restaurant destinations.
A Seattle native, Armstrong attended the Western Culinary Institute in nearby Portland, Oregon before serving as Chef du Cuisine at Oliver’s Bar and Grill in Wyoming at the age of 25. In 2006, Armstrong followed his passion for sushi and Asian flavors to New York City where he helped open the famed restaurant Morimoto—the flagship of Iron Chef America’s Chef Masaharu Morimoto. At the same time, Armstrong worked as a line cook at Jean Georges’ Asian restaurant, Spice Market.
In 2007, he joined a colleague for the opening of TAO Asian Bistro, Nightclub & Beach at The Venetian in Las Vegas— one of the most bustling kitchens in the nation. He climbed the ranks from sous chef to executive chef, throughout which Armstrong was enamored with TAO’s energy and excitement. As such, he followed TAO Group back to New York City in 2013, where he once again served as executive chef while opening Bodega Negra, PHD Rooftop and The Beach within the Dream Downtown hotel.
When the opportunity arose to open TAO Chicago in 2018, Armstrong leapt at the chance. With family in the area and a passion for Chicago icon Charlie Trotter, he always dreamed of ending up in the Windy City. A new resident of the highly food-centric city, Armstrong was determined to make TAO Chicago a culinary destination focusing on elevated and indulgent Pan-Asian cuisine. He has assembled a veritable A-Team for TAO Chicago’s kitchen: a staff comprised of former executive chefs from restaurants around the city and country.
Armstrong, who now lives in Wrigleyville with his wife, strives for authenticity in both his life and cooking style, and aims to create a holistic experience for his guests and peers.