John B. Shields

Executive Chef

John Collage - Smyth + The Loyalist, Chicago IL

John B. Shields Executive Chef

Chef John Shields began his culinary training in the St. Louis area, attending culinary school and working in local restaurants. Shields then spent two years serving as sous chef at the world-renowned Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago before continuing his career with Chef Grant Achatz at Alinea as sous chef in 2005. During his two years there, Alinea grew from an exciting upstart to one of the best restaurants in the world.   expand – full bio

After leaving Alinea in 2008 to pursue the next step in his career, John (and his soon-to-be wife Karen Urie) turned down an offer to lead the opening of a Charlie Trotter restaurant in Las Vegas. Instead they took a bold chance on an opportunity to open a little-known restaurant in the countryside of Southwestern Virginia.

John and Karen moved to Chilhowie, Virginia in 2008 and were given carte blanche to re-imagine the then-unknown Town House restaurant. Now able to craft their own vision, Chefs John and Karen rebuilt the Town House concept as a modern exploration of imaginative flavor and visual compositions that utilized the wide array of seasonal, locally grown, and foraged ingredients.

In Chilhowie, the Shields found their creative voices and their food quickly gained national attention. In June of 2009, The New York Times published a glowing article about Town House which was instrumental in vaulting John and Karen to the top tier of chefs and restaurants in the United States. The growing public interest in the food at Town House led to Chef John being named a 2010 “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine magazine as well as a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist in 2011.

After four successful years at Town House and Riverstead Inn, Chefs John and Karen decided to return to Chicago to open Smyth + The Loyalist. When not in the kitchen, the couple spend time with their two young daughters.

Karen Urie Shields

Executive Pastry Chef

Karen Collage - Smyth + The Loyalist, Chicago IL

Karen Urie Shields Executive Pastry Chef

After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, Karen Urie Shields moved to Chicago where she of worked as sous pastry chef for two years at TRU under James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef, Gale Gand. Urie Shields gained incredible experience working under Gand and soon moved to Charlie Trotter’s where she rose through the ranks to become head pastry chef of the renowned restaurant.   expand – full bio

At Trotter’s, she met Chef John Shields who would soon become her husband. They both turned down an offer to lead the opening of a Charlie Trotter restaurant in Las Vegas and instead embarked on a journey to rural Virginia to re-imagine the then-unknown Town House restaurant. Now able to craft their own vision, Chefs John and Karen rebuilt the Town House concept as a modern exploration of imaginative flavor and visual compositions that utilized the wide array of seasonal, locally grown, and foraged ingredients.

At Town House and second concept Riverstead Inn, the Shields found their creative voices and their food quickly gained national attention. In June of 2009, The New York Times published a glowing article about Town House which was instrumental in vaulting John and Karen to the top tier of chefs and restaurants in the United States. Public interest in her work continued to grow and in 2010 Chef Karen was named by Star Chefs as a winner of the “DC Area Rising Star Award.”

After four successful years at Town House and Riverstead Inn, Chefs John and Karen decided to return to Chicago to open Smyth and The Loyalist. When not in the kitchen, the couple spend time with their two young daughters.