Matt Alfus - Chef
Having grown up in the Midwest, he has a passion to accentuate the flavors of the season. His love for food is derived from music, and the ability to create and excite people with his food.
Matt attended McHenry County College with a major in Culinary Management and Hospitality. Taking an internship with Disney, he worked at the resorts and festivals before deciding to pursue a career back in Illinois.
Having worked for some of the best restaurants and Chef's in Chicago, such as Dave Beran of Next, Michael Carlson of Schwa, Kevin McMullen of EL Ideas and Gaetano Nardulli of NEAR, Matt found himself back in his hometown of Crystal Lake looking to make a mark.
He strives to lead a driven team by educating and keeping the thoughtfulness and consistency of the food at the forefront.
Favorite Netflix cooking show: Mind of a Chef
Liz benarczyk - events coordinator and front of the house manager
Liz is a qualified hospitality leader, her passion for the Industry led her to study Culinary Art at the Illinois Institute of Art @ Chicago. She continued her studies graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Hospitality Management from the Illinois Institute of Art~Schaumburg.
No Stranger to the Hospitality Industry, before joining Duke’s she worked for the Marcus corporation at the Grand Geneva Resort and Darden Restaurant Group with Seasons 52.
She leads a dynamic, educated team in all aspects of creating events and dining experiences that leave guests with lasting memories of good food and good times.
She shows her love of entertaining by providing detailed and personalized planning of special events, baby showers, Birthday parties, wedding rehearsal dinners and company holiday celebrations
Communicating with the Chefs, Kitchen and Staff to assure all runs smoothly is a top priority.
Liz is a big believer in: Sustainability will save the planet.
She Supports: Green practices and organic food beverage
Her favorite garden ingredient is: Chives
zak dolezal - chef/gm/owner
In 2008 I came to Crystal Lake with the intent of creating a fine dining restaurant in the suburbs during an economic recession. I learned quickly how bad of an idea that was. But I was certain that I wanted to utilize my passion for local ingredients. So I took these local ingredients and used them in familiar dishes so guests could understand the difference between locally raised fresh food and conventional pre-packaged convenience items.
My passion for local ingredients stemmed from my experience in fine dining restaurants. Being able to get heirloom and unique products picked at their peak freshness was exciting and I soon learned that I couldn’t serve it any other way. Having this close relationship with my food products and the farmers that grew them helped me understand the effort that goes into these products and I wanted to provide those products to my customers in an unpretentious way.
Before and even after opening Duke’s I received much criticism and skepticism about what I was trying to do, but soon the clientele shifted and business grew. Customers began asking for vegan and vegetarian options. Guests with food allergies and affinities saw that we were making things from scratch with healthy ingredients and knew that we could accommodate their dietary restrictions. We listened very closely to our customers and made changes quickly and adapted methods to cater to our new clientele. We soon became a thriving business.