April 6, 2024
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From Tulum to Chicago: Chef Fenton’s Journey at Cariño

TULUM, Mexico – Acclaimed chef Norman Fenton, known for his culinary prowess at Brass Heart, Schwa, and Wild Tulum, is set to unveil his latest gastronomic venture, Cariño, this December in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Located at 4662 N. Broadway, the establishment takes residence in the former Brass Heart space.

Teaming up with co-owner Karen Young, the visionary force behind Wild Tulum, the Mexican eatery nestled in the jungles of Tulum, Chef Fenton aims to deliver a unique culinary experience. Cariño will feature a 20-seat setting, offering a 12-16 course Latin-focused tasting menu that celebrates the diverse flavors of Central and South America. Complementing the menu will be a thoughtfully curated selection of Latin American wines, beers, and agave-based spirits. On select evenings, guests can indulge in a late-night taco omakase at the chef’s counter.

Chef Norman Fenton, with a culinary journey marked by his roles at Chicago’s Schwa and Brass Heart, brings a personal touch to Cariño as a chef-owner. Departing from the formalities of traditional tasting menus, Fenton envisions Cariño as a place where culinary excellence meets a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. Co-owner Karen Young, contributing her eye for design and hospitality, ensures a seamless fusion of culinary artistry and ambiance, complete with spirited playlists featuring Latin artists.

The name “Cariño,” derived from the Spanish term for “beloved,” pays homage to the culture, flavors, and people of Latin America. Chef Norman Fenton’s connection to this region is deeply rooted, spanning multiple extended trips to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica. A nine-month road trip in 2019 immersed him in the culinary cities of Mexico, leading him to Tulum, where he first collaborated with Young on a tasting menu pop-up at Wild Tulum. Since then, Fenton has served as executive chef at the restaurant, embracing not only Latin American cuisine but also its rich culture. His personal journey includes meeting and marrying his wife, Karina, in Mexico, where they started a family.

Expressing his profound connection to the project, Executive Chef and Co-owner Norman Fenton states, “Cariño is my heart, my love letter to my wife Karina, our family in Mexico, and all the people who have welcomed me into their culture. My time in this part of the world has changed my life, and I hope to show my deep love and gratitude through food.”

Partnering with Fenton, Karen Young brings a wealth of experience from the music and hospitality industries, coupled with a commitment to humanitarian activism. Her endeavors include work with MTV EXIT, Nordoff Robbins, and providing relief to the people of Tulum during COVID-19. The duo plans to integrate a charitable giveback component into Cariño’s business model, selecting a different Latino-serving nonprofit organization annually to benefit from their success.

Cariño, set to open its doors in December, promises to be a culinary haven, where Chef Norman Fenton and Karen Young combine their talents to create an immersive and unforgettable dining experience rooted in love, culture, and community.


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