Police searching for missing Pilsen chef

CHICAGO -- Police are searching for a 25-year-old Pilsen chef who never made it to a fundraiser he put together.

An email from family members sent to WGN said Luis Mercader was planning a benefit for victims of Hurricane Maria set for Thursday, Nov. 9, but he never made it there. They said his backpack was found at Urbanbelly, where people saw him last Thursday, a day after police said he was last seen.

When he didn’t show up at Animale for the fundraiser, his friends and family started to worry.

According to police, Luis Mercader was last seen on Wednesday, Nov. 8 wearing a dark colored hooded jacket and blue jeans, and he's known to frequent several places in and near the Fulton Market area from Halsted to Ashland and Monroe to Fulton.

In the close knit restaurant community, everyone is concerned about their friend. Mercader is a chef at Roister.

His father arrived from Puerto Rico this weekend.

"If he were to leave a place for a few days, he will tell me," he said.

"He left his backpack.  He left the food that he ordered," Mercader's uncle, Juan Mercader, said. "Because if he left all his stuff there, it seems like he was in a hurry to leave. Yeah that’s what’s strange."

Mercader's best friend and roommate Pedro Prada may have been the last to talk to him.

"He seemed like kind of busy like where you’re talking to a person and you’re not really paying attention on the phone, like distracted, yeah like distracted," Prada said.

Family and friends have put up flyers around his Pilsen neighborhood, the areas he frequented and where his car was found near Halsted and Madison Friday morning. They are now spreading the word.

"If somebody sees him or if somebody has him bring him back home. We can deal with everything," his father said.

Mercader is described by police as 5 feet 11, 280 pounds with a medium complexion brown eyes, black hair including a beard and mustache, pierced ears, and a tattoo described by family members as three interlinked triangles.

Anyone with information is asked to call Area Central detectives at (312) 747-8380.