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Comings & Goings: Fine dining and banana splits

Chef Amaury Rosado started his love affair with food Auror10 years ago. Rosado celebrates 10 years restaurant business this month

Chef Amaury Rosado started his love affair with food and Aurora 10 years ago. Rosado celebrates 10 years in the restaurant business this month at Chef Amaury at 33 West, 33 W. New York St. in downtown Aurora. | Submitted

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Updated: November 29, 2012 6:27AM

Chef Amaury Rosado says he has a love affair with Aurora. For the last 10 years, Rosado has prepared distinctive dishes from two different kitchens — both in the city he loves.

“I love Aurora. I love it here,” said Rosado, who opened his first restaurant, Chef Amaury’s Epicurean Affair, on Commons Drive in 2002. Two years ago, Rosado moved the popular upscale restaurant with the prix fix menu to 33 W. New York St. in downtown Aurora.

Rosado admits that he took a leap of faith in moving to the downtown location, which he renamed Chef Amaury at 33 West. He’s had challenges along the way, but it’s where his heart is at. He came downtown to join Ballydoyle and other restaurants on New York Street’s Restaurant Row.

In spite of sour economic times and some of the plans for the row folding, Rosado keeps his doors open and is thankful to his faithful customers. He’s also grateful to his family; his wife, Trisha, is his biggest supporter.

“I opened the restaurant as a labor of love. I sought to bring fine dining to Aurora,” he said.

At the former location, Rosado was open only on Friday and Saturday nights, but he quickly gained a reputation as one of the premiere chefs in Chicagoland.

One of Rosado’s proudest moments was reading food critic Phil Vettel’s three-star review of his restaurant. “I was so excited. I was screaming,” he said of the rare honor.

Rosado wasn’t always an admired chef. Before opening his own restaurant, Rosado worked in social work and later sales. It took Trisha’s encouragement for him to enroll in culinary school at age 38, and follow his passion.

“I thought she was crazy but went anyway. The rest is history,” he said.

After 10 years, Rosado says that the restaurant has only gotten better. Whether it’s new or old friends sitting down to dinner, or experimenting in the kitchen, Rosado loves it all.

“Aurora is wonderful. And we’re the little engine that could,” he said.

Rosado recently celebrated the milestone at the restaurant with a five-course dinner. He continues to host dinner events, including wine share dinners, and earlier this month, Rosado hosted his first all-vegan dinner.

To make a reservation at Chef Amaury at 33 West, call 630-375-0426.

Until next season

In early October, Banana Split, 820 Church Road on Aurora’s East Side, closed for the season. After a difficult year, owner Lisa Brown is looking forward to a new year and a new season at the ice cream haven.

Banana Split started the year off with a bang. The first couple of months were unseasonably warm and “perfect ice cream weather.” In April, the weather returned to normal, but Brown’s life was sent into a tailspin when her father, Ivan Seppell, fell ill and later died. He was the owner of Jonlee Flowers.

Brown then helped her family close the store after almost 40 years in business on Lake Street in Aurora. She also helped her sister Laura English open Laura’s Flowers at 324 W. Indian Trail.

As she was dealing with financial issues steming from her dad’s death, Brown received some unexpected news one morning in May.

“On May 24, 20 days after losing my dad, a semi-truck was making a delivery to Banana Split and got tangled in with the hanging wires and snapped the telephone pole,” Brown said. “That pole landed on our building and sent 7,200 volts of electric through my store.

“It looked as if a bomb went off … Thank God no one was in the store when this happened.

For the next several days, Brown and her husband, Randy, along with ComEd and AT&T crews, and friends and customers, worked tirelessly to get the store back in order for Memorial Day weekend. Amazingly, they pulled it off.

“In spite of all our hardships that have unfolded this year, I still believe I am a very lucky and fortunate person,” she said. “I have the best family and friends ever. I have the best job, a job that I love, and I get to work every day with my husband. We have the best employees, because without their help this would have been so much more difficult to deal with.”

She added, “Yes, I am truly blessed.”

You can step up to one of Banana Split’s windows again in February when they reopen for the 2013 season. Find Banana Split on Facebook.

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