CHICAGO (WLS) -- Four Chicago restaurants have received the culinary world's highest honor. Tuesday night was the Michelin Guide gala in New York City.
Smyth in the West Loop was awarded its third Michelin star. There are only about a dozen restaurants in the entire U.S. with three stars.
Smyth is just the second restaurant in Chicago to receive three Michelin stars. Chef-owner John Shields is still struggling to wrap his head around the achievement.
"It hasn't sunk in at all. I'm literally back at work right now less than 24 hours back at it," he said. "Probably the best for me because if I take in too much, it's a pretty emotional time right now."
Shields has been running Smyth, off North Ada Avenue, for the last seven years.
Michelin stars are awarded through an anonymous process, so he never knew what night his restaurant was being judged. But he's been waiting for the news.
"It's basically the top of the mountain," he said. "It's not what every chef strides for. I think we all strive to be excellent and work with amazing people and products but it's the icing on the cake."
Sheilds said they serve 45 to 50 people each night, with a sophisticated menu but a casual atmosphere that makes guests feel at home.
"Having it feel like you're coming to our home has always been the model, the mantra," he said. "To do that is very tricky, so it's much more casual, relaxed service, more friendly."
Alinea in Lincoln Park is the only other three-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago. Chef-owner Grant Achatz is one of Shields' mentors.
"He's like a father figure to me," Shields said. "I looked up to him as a young cook and I still do. He's still my chef, so it's amazing to share that with him in this city."
With the news comes great responsibility and even more pressure for Smyth to maintain its three stars. They're ready for the challenge.
One Michelin star was awarded to Atelier in Lincoln Square, and Indienne in River North.
Daisies in Logan Square earned the new Michelin Green star, for its locally sourced menu.
Full list of Chicago Michelin star restaurants: