Café Lucci Chef-Owner Augie Arifi is a self-taught, intuitive chef whose primary goal is to "please my customers with innovative cooking using top-quality, fresh ingredients served in warm, friendly surroundings."
His cooking style can be characterized as Italian eclectic with a wonderful variety of Italian dishes from many regions, which also are infused with pan-Mediterranean, American and French influence. His recent travels to Italy and neighboring countries have inspired many new dishes. Frequent 5-course Winemaker Dinners provide the perfect showcase for Chef Augie’s epicurean skills. Fine wines from vineyards all over the world are paired with imaginative culinary creations.
Chef Augie, as he is best known by his customers, emigrated from his native Macedonia to Chicago in 1970 with his family. He opened Café Lucci with his father, Sam, and brother Bobby in December of 1995. Bobby remains in charge of the front of the house with a primary role as Wine Program Manager spearheading an award-winning wine list that has garnered the prestigious Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. Other family members are frequently in evidence as wait staff and hosts.
His background as a self-proclaimed "all-purpose utility man" under the tutelage of Alex Dana, owner of the Rosebud Restaurant Group, and Rosebud on Rush Chef Bobby Walsh, has served him well. He worked virtually every position in the house at all three of Dana 's restaurants while attending the University of Illinois at Chicago where he earned a bachelor of science degree in finance.
Chef on the Go
Cooking demos by Chef Augie have helped to establish Café Lucci as a major presence on the North Shore and as a favorite destination from all over Chicago. His appearances have included the Chicago Botanic Garden "Garden Chef Series," Bloomingdale's (Old Orchard), Treasure Island (Clybourn and Lake Bluff) and Williams-Sonoma (Northbrook Court). He has also done numerous on-air cooking segments for WMAQ, CH. 5 "Weekend News" and "Chicago Daytime," ABC 7 "Weekend News," CLTV "Good Eating," WFLD, Ch. 32 "Fox Thing in the Morning," and WTTW, Ch. 11 "Chicago Tonight."