Chef Tory grew up working in his grandparents' diner in Racine, Wisconsin before moving to New York to attend the French Culinary Institute and work his way through some of the cities' finest kitchens, including Bill Telepan's JUdson Grill and Eleven Madison Park.
A true Wisconsinite at heart, he returned to Madison to began working under his mentor, Odessa Piper, at L'Etoile, where he found his true passion for local food through the Dane County Farmers' Market. After taking over L'Etoile in 2005 from Odessa, Tory opened his 2nd restaurant, Graze, in 2010, and his 3rd, Sujeo (now closed) in 2014, as a way to provide local-sourced cuisine to a larger audience in the Madisonian dining scene.
A 2012 recipient of the James Beard Award Best Chef: Midwest, Tory has strived to strengthen Madison's food system, local agriculture, and wider community throughout his career by supporting farmers and purchasing local Wisconsin products for all his restaurants, notably forming the Madison Area Chefs Network to unite Madison's local chefs for the first time. When he is not working in one of his restaurants, Tory is spending time with his three young boys, passing along his love of all things delicious.
Executive Chef & Co-Proprietor
Michael joined L'Etoile in 1991 when he was hired as a dishwasher. He picked up a bartender's shift one day a week and became interested in wine, and in 1993 became L'Etoile's Wine Director. When folks ask Michael how he learned about wine, he responds, "by tasting purposefully, teaching, traveling, asking questions, and searching for beauty in the things we eat and drink."
Today, Michael continues his life-long study of wine as an active member of the wine team, while also teaching Middle and High School students.
Favorite Picks: J.J. Pruüm Gold Cap Auslese from the Wehlener Sonnenuhr Vineyard in the Mosel, and any wine from the Grand Cru Musigny
At L’Etoile there’s always a sommelier on hand to answer any questions you might have about our extensive list and
provide recommendations based on your preferences, budget, and food compatibility.
L’Etoile’s sommeliers are here to help you find that special bottle of wine, answer any questions you have,
and provide a unique wine experience.
Dianne Christensen became a co-proprietor in June of 2007. With her long career in economic consulting, she has been instrumental in helping navigate the move of L’Etoile and the opening of Graze.
Passionate about food, she taught all her children to enhance their lives by cooking and eating wisely. As a key supporter of L’Etoile’s farm-to-school initiative (CHOW), she’s also helped make healthy eating a priority at Sherman Middle School. L’Etoile and Graze allow Dianne to bring her passion and business expertise together and further their philosophy of well-prepared, local, seasonal foods.
Head Pastry Chef