By 14, Chris Nugent had tried his hand at every station of the kitchen at Drovers Inn in upstate New York, under the tutelage of his mentor and adoptive father, Chef John Daly. Years of afternoons, evenings, and holidays spent at the classically-driven restaurant formed Nugent’s foundation, which was rounded out by a degree from Johnson & Wales. After graduating, Nugent worked at a turn-and-burn fish restaurant in Newport, Rhode Island, and completed influential stages with Chef Michael Schlow at Radius in Boston and Chef Rick Tramonto at Tru in Chicago.
Enamored with the city, Nugent eventually moved to Chicago to work under Stephen Langloid at Prairie then went to Mid-America Club. His next stop was a position as the opening sous chef and, soon after, chef de cuisine at Michael Kornick’s MK. Not long after, Nugent became executive sous at Park Avenue Café, and then executive chef of a little French bistro in Wilmette, Illinois, called Betise.
After three and a half years at Betise, Nugent was approached by the owner of Les Nomades, Mary Beth Liccioni. Liccioni had taken over the private dining club in 1993 and opened it to the public in 1996. Nugent joined as executive chef in 2005 and managed to keep long-time regulars happy while also putting the restaurant on young, sophisticated, upscale diners’ maps. In 2012, Nugent poured his resources and energy into his first solo venture, Goosefoot, an elegant tasting-menu-only format restaurant in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.