ANDREW ZIMMERMAN, Executive Chef
Since taking the culinary lead at Sepia in 2009, Chef Andrew Zimmerman has garnered national acclaim for his inventive American cuisine. His creative direction in the kitchen has earned the Chicago restaurant a Michelin star every year since 2011. He has been a James Beard Foundation Award finalist for “Best Chef: Great Lakes” from 2012-2015. StarChefs.com chose him as a 2011 Rising Star Chef. At 2011-2013 Jean Banchet Awards, he was nominated as “Chef of the Year.” Sepia won “Restaurant of the Year” in 2012. “I’m cooking food that speaks to me, and I’m so honored that it’s resonating with others, too,” he says. “My cooking style is all about the balance of textures, global flavors, and seasonality.”
In his 20s, while following a life-long dream to become a musician, Zimmerman supported himself by working in restaurants. When he realized he enjoyed being in the kitchen more than the clubs, Zimmerman began to pursue a career as a professional cook. He worked as a sous chef for three years under Renato Sommella, whom he cites as one of his strongest culinary mentors. He then enrolled in the prestigious French Culinary Institute in New York City, graduating first in his class in 2000. Zimmerman made the move to Chicago in 2003 to assume a position at the Park Hyatt Chicago. In 2004, he met restaurateur Terry Alexander, who was impressed with his capabilities and hired him as executive chef at MOD and opening chef for Del Toro. Zimmerman returned to the Park Hyatt as chef de cuisine at its restaurant, NoMI, working with Chef Christophe David. In 2008, he was introduced to Sepia owner Emmanuel Nony, and the following year, Nony offered Zimmerman the executive chef position at Sepia.
Zimmerman continues to participate in a number of high-profile culinary events, including the Cochon 555 and Heritage Fire, the Park Hyatt Tokyo’s Guest Chef Series, Food & Wine’s Entertaining Showcase, and the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. In September 2012, Zimmerman successfully defeated Iron Chef Marc Forgone on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” in Battle Cream Cheese.
In addition to the culinary recognition, the chef has been honored for his community involvement, receiving the 2012 “Humanitarian of the Year” award from Plate magazine. He was also invited by State Department Chief of Protocol Capriccio Penavic Marshall to join the newly formed American Chefs Corps to serve the country in a diplomatic capacity. Zimmerman joins the ranks of other nationally renowned chefs to showcase American cuisine to other nations, enhance formal diplomacy, and cultivate cultural understanding.
Zimmerman and his wife live in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood with their young daughter snd son. When not working, he can be found traveling with his family – and finding culinary inspiration all along the way.