The Restaurant Industry Personnel Shuffles Chicago Needs to Know

Brianna Myers of Boka.

An ongoing log of industry chef and staff changes for 2018

December 10

GOLD COAST— Margeaux Brasserie, the restaurant run by celebrity chef Michael Mina’s company inside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Gold Coast, has hired Greg Biggers as executive chef, according to a news release. He’ll oversee F&B operations in the hotel. His experience locally includes time at TRU and Tramonto’s Steak & Seafood. He was the longtime chef at Cafe de Architectes at the Sofitel before moving to Nashville.

LINCOLN PARK— Boka promoted sous chef Brianna Myers to chef de cuisine of its Lincoln Park flagship.

LINCOLN SQUARE— Fifty/50 Restaurant Group has hired Dylan Seo as lead bartender at the Sixth. Seo worked at Booth One in Gold Coast and the Dawson in West Town. He’s got big plans for the neighborhood cocktail bar.

LOGAN SQUARE— Maplewood Lounge, the brewery’s neighboring taproom, no longer has a beverage director. Matt Frederick is no longer with Maplewood. He was on the bar’s opening team and created the slushies at the space. He’s also a consultant with the company that runs Lady Gregory’s and Octavio.

THE LOOP— Italian Village has hired chef Emily Philips to oversee Vivere. She started at the restaurant over the summer as sous chef, according to a news release. Her experience includes a stint at Homestead on the Roof in West Town.

WEST LOOP— Executive chef Jeff Smith and sommelier Anton Valkov remain, but there’s new owners at Press Room, the wine bar and restaurant inside the Publishing House B&B in the West Loop. New managing partners Petros Papatheofanis and Cristian Mendoza Jarquin have entered into the fray. They know Smith from his time as sous chef at Sable Kitchen + Bar in River North, according to a news release.

ROSEMONT— Hofbräuhaus Chicago, the German beer bar and restaurant in the burbs, named Daniela Amend as executive chef and Frank Klawunder as sous chef. The two are native Germans. Klawunder has been with the restaurant since 2017.

November 15

AVONDALELudlow Liquors, the bar that took over the Orbit Room, run by Eater Award-winners Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue, has a new beverage director and bar manager. Grace Bernotavicius is a South Side native and worked at Estereo in Logan Square. She also opened Mousetrap, Off Color Brewing’s Lincoln Park taproom, according to a news release. Check out her new drink menu below.

BEVERLY— Far South Side brewpub stalwart Open Outcry Brewing has scored a big-time hire. Ownership lured Will Turner to be its new head of brewery operations. He comes over from Revolution Brewing.

FULTON MARKET— Storied Latin-American fusion restaurant Carnivale has a new executive chef. Ozzie Amelotti is Argentinian and worked at Vivere in the Italian Village and Ella Elli in Lakeview, according to a news release. He has more than two decades of culinary experience.

RIVER NORTH— Daniel Espinoza has a new gig. The Mexican chef who’s worked at Mexique and opened Lobo Rey in the South Loop is now the research and development chef at Cantina Laredo. He’s already rolled out several new items on the River North restaurant’s menu.

RIVER NORTH— LondonHouse hotel as a new executive pastry chef. Samantha Santiago Torres, who studied in Spain and worked in London and Edinburgh, has taken over the position.

RIVER NORTH— Baptiste & Bottle, the swanky sky-high restaurant inside the Conrad Hotel, has hired Amit Gilad as head bartender. Gilad comes over from GreenRiver, the shuttered Michelin-starred cocktail bar and restaurant in Streeterville.

UKRAINIAN VILLAGEBite Cafe, the restaurant neighboring the Empty Bottle, has named Marcos Munoz as executive chef. Munoz comes from Bite’s sibling restaurants Saint Lou’s Assembly and Longman & Eagle.

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE— Brothers and Sisters, the upcoming hybrid all-day restaurant, market, and bottle shop at 2119 W. Chicago Avenue, has hired Abigail Zielke as lead chef. She’s worked for Next, Kitsune, and Elizabeth while in Chicago. She knows co-owner Jonny Hunter of Underground Food Collective from working at his restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin. Brothers and Sisters should open in December.

August 7

AROUND TOWN— Portillo’s, the fast-food chain that serves Chicago street food, will soon have a new CEO. Former PF Chang’s president and CEO Michael Osanloo will take over for Keith Kinsey on October 1 after Kinsey retires. Kinsey had spent three years in his present role, according to a news release.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA— Gene Kato, the celebrated chef behind the now-shuttered Sumi Robata Bar in River North, has found a new job in a different city. He’s the new executive chef/partners at Upstream in Charlotte. He’s created a new menu for the restaurant, according to a news release.

RIVER NORTH— Longtime local restaurateur Jason Chan has left Katana, the decadent LA-imported Japanese restaurant downtown. Dan Carr, the ex-general manager of Sushi Roku in West Scottsdale, Arizona, has has over for Chan as Katana’s GM, according to a news release. Chan brought local knowledge to Katana Chicago and was planning to open at least two more restaurants here for Innovative Dining Group, but it appears that might not happen anymore. Chan says he can’t share his next move yet, only saying that the split was “amicable,” he was “very happy during my two-year agreement with IDG,” and he is “moving on to a much larger and better opportunity for me.”

RIVER NORTH— Jason Paskewitz (The Blanchard) has found a new job as chef at Marchesa in River North, according to the Tribune. Paskewitz was abruptly out of a job after Pearl Brasserie was sold to the owners of Beatnik. Marchesa’s opening chef Mark Sabbe had been developing the restaurant’s menu since 2016. His future plans aren’t known.

ROSCOE VILLAGE— Le Sud is targeting a mid-September opening in Roscoe Village, according a spokesperson. The casual French restaurant has hired Terry McNeese as GM/wine director. He’s a sommelier who’s worked for the Gage and Henri. A veteran of Chicago’s restaurant scene, he’s picked up numerous accolades.

June 27

ANDERSONVILLE— John Kennedy is the new manager at Octavia Cantina & Kitchen. It’s a return to the restaurant business for Kennedy who was a contract specialist at BP in Warrenville. He was also a hospitality manager at Topgolf in Naperville.

GOLD COAST— 20 East, the restaurant at the Talbott Hotel, has a new director of food and beverage. Yulia Gainey, who oversees the restaurant’s daily operations, is new to the job.

LINCOLN SQUARE— Fountainhead, the fine whisky and craft beer bar and restaurant, has a new chef. Former Band of Bohemia chef de cuisine Kevin McMullen is now in charge of the kitchen.

LOGAN SQUARE— Quiote has promoted chef de cuisine Ross Henke to chef of the Logan Square restaurant. The food won’t change much, but expect a revamp of the brunch menu. The restaurant also started to serve burritos and line up “Burrito Battles” which pit two chefs from other restaurants against each other. The action starts tonight with Dos Urban Cantina versus Frontera. They’ll go on every Wednesday through the summer.

LOGAN SQUARE— Table, Donkey, & Stick has a new chef. Ownership hired Justin Moser who was last at Salero as chef de cuisine. He’s also worked at Trenchermen, Gilt Bar, and Bangers & Lace.

RIVER NORTH— Jason Hedin, the chef at Joy District, now has a new gig next door at Hubbard Inn. Under the same ownership, Hedin will shift to the neighboring restaurant and has launched new lunch and dinner menus.

STREETERVILLE— Larry Feldmeier is the new executive chef at The Albert inside the Hotel EMC2. The suburban Mokena native was the executive sous chef at Sixteen inside the Trump International Tower.

WASHINGTON PARK— Lamar Moore has left his position as chef at Currency Exchange Cafe. Moore, who joined the cafe earlier this year, said he’s going to pursue his dream of opening a restaurant. He’s been scouting locations for a while, but the big news is he’s going to stay in Chicago rather than move to Denver where he was considering.

May 22

FULTON MARKET— Gideon Sweet, the restaurant/bar from Matthias Merges and Graham Elliot has a new chef. Joe Doren, who worked at Blackbird for four years, as well as had stints at Sixteen and Longman & Eagle, has been hired. He’s excited to be part of the relaxed vibe and said he wants to make sure the food reflects that fun atmosphere.

GOLD COAST— Walton Street Kitchen + Bar, which was formerly known as 9 Walton, the upcoming restaurant from the owners of Gemini in Lincoln Park, has assembled a team for 9 W. Walton Street. They’ve hired Jon Keeley as executive chef and Ji Yoon as executive pastry chef. Meanwhile, Jon Farrer is the restaurant’s GM and managing partner. The Gemini partners have also rebranded to Ballyhoo Hospitality. That way they’re not competing with On The Fly, the company name that Lula Cafe’s Jason Hammel just unveiled with his pals Bombay Breakdown.

LINCOLN PARK— Barbecue guru Gary Wiviott has moved on from 8 Hospitality Group, the company that just converted Barn & Co. barbecue to a restaurant with less meat on the menu, Faregrounds, at 950 W. Wrightwood Avenue. Wiviott was the pitmaster and Barn & Co., and now he’s moved on after seven years. He writes that his short-term plan is “to concentrate on consulting, working on a third Low & Slow cookbook, getting in better physical condition and making my bride of almost 30-years smile.”

THE LOOP— Roanoke Restaurant, the space inside the Residence Inn lobby bar at 135 W. Madison Street, has a new executive chef. Greg Elliot was on the opening team at the Ritz-Carlton’s Torali. He was also the executive chef at Remington’s.

RIVER NORTH— Allium, the restaurant inside the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, has a new chef. Michael Zachman, who’s currently working at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, will take over in June, a spokesperson confirmed.

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE/HUMBOLDT PARK— Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar has loss the services of Jan Henrichsen, the restaurant’s beverage director. Henrichsen announced her departure earlier this month via a Facebook post.

May 9

AROUND TOWN— Buried within this Crain’s story about Potbelly shifting business strategies is news that the sandwich chain has hired Ryan LaRoche as VP of culinary innovation. LaRoche is the former chef at NoMi, the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Park Hyatt hotel.

LOGAN SQUARE— There’s a bit of a shake up at acclaimed Mexican restaurant Quiote. Co-owner Paul Biasco has left the Logan Square restaurant, effective last week. He announced the departure via Facebook without specifying his reasonings behind the move. When reached on phone, he said he was unsure of his next move and was going to take some time to decide: “I have decided to leave the restaurant, a decision that is one of the hardest I have ever made, but a decision that I am firm in believing is the right one,” Biasco wrote. He added over the phone that both Quiote and basement bar Todos Santos are doing well. Biasco made the leap from the world of journalism, where he worked as a reporter with DNAinfo and The Daily Herald to the restaurant industry to work with good friend Dan Salls, Quiote’s chef and owner.

RIVER NORTH— Untitled Supper Club in River North has named Frank Mnuk as chef and Josh Novy as beverage director. Mnuk’s resume includes experience at acclaimed well-known restaurants, reported the Tribune. He’s worked at French Laundry, NoMI, L2O, and Eleven Madison Park. Novy has worked at iNG, MOTO, Balena, Homestead, and Steadfast, according to a news release.

RIVER NORTH— Z Bar, a new space inside the Peninsula Chicago hotel, has announced its team. The rooftop space should open this June. Ben Robertson, who comes over from the Loews Hotel, is its bar director. Chicago bar vet Vlad Noikov — who worked at Boystown bars part of LKH Management — is the director of cocktails and culture. David Gonzalez is the bar manager, having worked with the Peninsula Chicago since 2012 in various roles. Toni Robertson is the chef. She served in the Air Force and attended the Hospitality Institute of Chicago.

March 26

AROUND TOWN— Chef Trevor Teich, who ended his pop-up series, Claudia, will soon embark to Las Vegas to work as the sous chef at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Teich told the Tribune that he’ll be there the first week of April.

THE LOOP— Fisk & Co., the new riverside beer and mussel spot inside the former South Water Kitchen space, 225 N. Wabash Avenue, has hired a lead bartender. Melissa Carroll worked in the same capacity for South Water, according to a news release. Fisk & Co.’s drink menus include 12 draft beers with a focus on Belgians. They’ll also work with Logan Square’s Hopewell Brewing Company and offer rotating selections.

RIVER NORTH— Downtown Chicago’s Weber Grill Restaurant, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary last year, has a pair of new hires. David Rolon is the new executive chef. He’s the former executive chef of DMK Restaurant’s Marshall’s Landing and Devon Seafood and Grill, both in River North. Matt McCormick is the new corporate chef and he’ll be in charge of Weber Grills in the Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis areas. He was the executive chef at J. Alexander’s in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, as well as Seasons 52 in Florida.

WEST LOOP— Two of the founders of West Loop’s Oriole are leaving the acclaimed fine dining restaurant. Pastry chef Genie Kwon and chef de cuisine Tim Flores will depart at the end of March, according to the Tribune. The two didn’t reveal what their next professional step would be, but they are engaged. Oriole will promote two staff members: Pastry sous-chef Courtney Kenyon moves up to pastry chef, and Mariya Russell move to the chef de cuisine position.

March 1

EDGEWATER— Income Tax, the acclaimed restaurant and wine bar in Andersonville, is looking for a new executive chef. Opening chef Ryan Henderson has left the restaurant. He said he’s working toward opening his own restaurant. An Income Tax spokesperson said the split was amicable and they’re working toward filling the vacancy.

LINCOLN PARK— The restaurant replacing Barn & Company, the Lincoln Park barbecue that closed in February has a new chef. The new restaurant, FareGrounds, will have food from Jason Paskewitz. Additionally, the restaurant has an opening date: March 16. Paskewitz is a restaurant veteran who has focused on French food. He helms the kitchen at Pearl Brasserie in The Loop and will split his time between the two venues, according to a spokesperson. Chicagoans probably know him best for his work at The Blanchard in Lincoln Park. He’s going for a Chicago-inspired fare including a “Chicago-style burger” that’s a hot dog on a sesame-seed bun. It’ll serve deli-style sandwiches, too. FareGrounds will be run by 8 Hospitality, which also runs Pearl, Joy District, and more.

THE LOOP— The Dearborn, the restaurant inside Block 37 from Amy and Clodagh Lawless, has a new pastry chef. Julianna Westgor has worked at Acanto, The Dearborn, and The Gage (for brother Billy Lawless). Her new desserts include cinnamon spice churros (pumpkin white chocolate mousse with a Rumchata ice cream and warm toffee pour).

RIVER NORTH— There’s an ad up for the executive chef position at Bohemian House. The restaurant has been without an executive chef since May 2017: “They have an incredibly talented back-of-house team who have been running the culinary program, cooking that authentic Bohemian cuisine that people have come to love in Chicago,” a spokesperson wrote. Rob Sidor was the restaurant’s most recent executive chef, who took over for opening chef Jimmy Papadopoulos, who now runs hotstpot The Bellemore.

RIVER NORTH— In more 8 Hospitality news, they’ve hired a chef for Parlay at Joy District, the casual sports-driven space on the first-floor of the multilevel bar/club that opens the week of March 12. Jason Hedin (Travelle Kitchen + Bar, The Lobby at The Peninsula) is its executive chef. His menu will include Neapolitan-style speciality and classic pizzas, as well as gourmet burgers.

February 13

AROUND TOWN— After running the now-shuttered Johnny’s Grill in Logan Square, chef/restaurateur Sarah Jordan has a new job. She’s moved on as the food and beverage director for Bedderman Lodging. That’s the hotel company formerly known as Urban Holiday Management, which owns Holiday Jones in Wicker Park and FieldHouse Jones in River North. They’re planning a Nashville hotel as well as The Wheelhouse Hotel, an upcoming hotel in Wrigleyville on the 3400 block of North Clark Street. Inside FieldHouse’s coffeeshop, customers will find a burger that may remind them of the burgers Jordan served in Logan Square and at Revival Food Hall. The Tribune first reported the story.

LAKEVIEW— Sari and Scott Worsham have two new chefs at their restaurants. Alisa Elenz has taken the reins of Mfk’s kitchen, according to Fooditor. Her experiences include work at Maude’s Liquor Bar. She replaces Jeremy Leven who was supposed to pull double duty at Mfk and the Wosham’s upcoming restaurant, Bar Biscay.

NOBLE SQUARE— Speaking of Bar Biscay, the upcoming restaurant is now on its third chef and it hasn’t yet opened. Former Telegraph, The Kitchen, and Honey’s chef Johnny Anderes is the new executive chef, replacing Wilson Bauer (Schwa). The restaurant should have a menu that combines Spanish and French “coastal” cooking. When Bar Biscay was announced in November, the menu was to be from former Mfk chef Leven.

WEST TOWN— Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery, the brewpub known for its botanical brews served inside a renovated vintage movie theater, has a new head brewer. They’ve hired Nick Williams. He’s the former head brewer and operations manager at Haw River Farmhouse Ales in North Carolina, according a news release.

SKOKIE— Libertad, the Nuevo Latino restaurant in suburban Skokie, has a new chef. Marino Gil has a resume that includes stints at The Gage, Ocean Cut, Grillhouse by David Burke, and The Dawson, according to a news release.

Marino Gill

February 5

GOLD COAST— Southern Cut Barbecue, the restaurant featuring — well, barbecue — from the owners of Chicago Cut Steakhouse, no longer has a pit master. Acclaimed master of smoked meats Lee Ann Whippen is no longer with the company, an employee answering phones at the restaurant inside the Hilton Chicago Magnificent Mile Suites Hotel confirmed. Ownership hasn’t filled the position. Whippen made a name for herself in Chicago at Chicago Q, but reportedly is no longer living in the city. Southern Cut opened in February 2017.

LINCOLN PARK— The Kennison is no longer employing its opening chef, but Bill Walker is staying in the Boka Restaurant Group family. He’s transferred to the West Loop at Bellemore. He worked at Green Zebra and brought a veggie-centric philosophy to his menu including a pastrami-spiced carrot dish. It was an amenable split, said Ryan See of 90/94 Restaurant Group. His company operates the restaurant inside the Hotel Lincoln. They hired Rob Shaner to replace Walker. Shaner came on in January and is slowly changing the menu. Shaner also has a focus on vegetables. He opened Royal Grocer Company in August in Bucktown. Its menu featured noodles made out of radishes. Walker opened The Kennison in July.

WASHINGTON PARK— Lamar Moore is the new executive chef at the Currency Exchange Cafe. The Chopped alum has been consulting since he left his job as pit master at The Smoke Daddy in Wicker Park. He’s got plans to introduce a new menu.

AROUND TOWN/NAPERVILLE— Sparrow Coffee, the supplier to fine-dining restaurants all over Chicago, opened its first coffee shop in January. Now founder Chris Chacko shared that he’s hired Matt Danko as Sparrow’s culinary director. Chacko wouldn’t specify what Danko’s addition means to the company, but praised the former Sink/Swim chef. Danko had been working at Grace in the West Loop in an undefined role. Yes, a coffee company has hired a chef with fine dining experience to leads it culinary program.

January 9

NOBLE SQUARE— Schwa and Longman & Eagle alum Wilson Bauer is in as the executive chef at Bar Biscay, the upcoming Spanish brasserie scheduled for a February opening at 1450 W. Chicago Avenue. Last year while at Schwa, Bauer won the Jean Banchet award for best chef de cuisine. He’s also spent time at Elizabeth Restaurant. Bar Biscay is from mfk owners Sari Zernich Worsham and Scott Worsham with Joe Campagna (Charlie Trotter’s).

LOGAN SQUARE— Elaine Townsend is the new pastry chef at Fat Rice. She’ll also contribute items to The Bakery at Fat Rice, the connected eatery that neighbors the dining room. She’s unveiling new items including Filipino-inspired ube milk bars, Ceylon Snickerdoodles, and miso fudge brownies. Don’t worry, the Chicago-style hot dog bun remains. Townsend’s resume includes a stint in Napa Valley at The Restaurant at Meadowood. Most recently, she worked in Lakeview at Blue Sky Bakery.

THE LOOP— Steadfast, the restaurant on the ground floor of the Kimpton Gray Hotel, 120 W. Monroe Street, has hired Ender Oktyuren as executive chef. Oktayuren’s arrival, according to a spokesperson, moves the restaurant to a new direction. Steadfast opened in 2016 as Fifty/50 Restaurant Group expanded downtown. Oktayuren served as executive for World of Whirlpool, the appliance company’s demo kitchen in River North. He was also the head line cook at Sixteen at the Trump Tower. They’ve already launched a new menu.

SOUTH LOOP— Big changes at Lobo Rey where chef Daniel Espinoza, pastry chef Jhoana Ruiz , and much of the staff left on December 23. The Mexican restaurant, which was supposed to mix Japanese flattops with casual taqueria opened in September at 1307 S. Wabash Avenue. The restaurant is still trying to find its identity, just blocks from Soldier Field. Espinoza has gone back to focusing on his Anomar Mexican pop-up. He’s also involved in Field Guide, the cannabis-focused pop-up. Lobo Rey is from the same ownership as The Scout, the neighboring sports bar.

For a list of 2017’s shuffles, go here.

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