Detailed: The Chef, Michael Carlson Of Schwa

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 15, 2010 5:00PM

Special to Chicagoist By Grant Slater

After conversing with hundreds of work-a-day folk between 1970 and 1974, Chicago's oral historian Studs Terkel gleaned that only a lucky few were searching for "daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying." The best of those, he concluded, found solace in the pursuit of professional perfection, the belief that "God is in the details," as another Chicago sage said. In this series, Chicagoist looks at four examples of a certain kind of Chicagoan, the self-employed artisan who trades detail, deftness and inspiration for his or her daily bread.

Today, we look at Michael Carlson, head chef and owner of Schwa Restaurant on the edge of Wicker Park. The restaurant seats 30 people a night, has no waiters and all reservations go through Carlson's white cordless phone.