Homaro Cantu, the Chicago chef famous for his molecular gastronomy-inspired dishes at his West Loop restaurant Moto, was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a building where he intended to start a brewery. Police told the Chicago Tribune Cantu appeared to die of hanging. He was 38.
Cantu first rose to prominence in the Chicago dining scene working in the kitchen at Charlie Trotter, where he impressed the restaurant's owner, the New York Times writes, "by cooking fish at the table in a small polymer box, among other feats." That job led to him being named chef of Moto in 2004, which he would later come to own and earn the restaurant a Michelin star in 2012.
He also blended science into his cooking, creating edible menus at his restaurants and championing the miracle fruit, a berry that can make sour foods (temporarily) taste sweet; he even wrote a book, The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook, that was published in 2013.
Alexander Espalin, an investor in Moto and another restaurant, called iNG, the Tribune reports, filed a lawsuit against Cantu last month, accusing the chef of using business accounts for personal use, "including trips, meals, and personal business such as the development of patented products." (Cantu had six pending patent applications, the Times reports.) Espalin also alleges that Cantu failed to pay him profits made from Moto and iNG, which has since closed.