James Beard Award winner Tony Mantuano is an influential culinary force, a chef who has been on the ground floor of defining true Italian cuisine in the United States.
In addition to his role as chef-partner at Spiaggia, Mantuano is the chef-partner at River Roast, situated on the Chicago River; Bar Toma, an Italian neighborhood pizzeria and bar; Terzo Piano, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant at The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago; and he is the owner of Mangia Trattoria, a classic Italian restaurant in his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Mantuano is a recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Midwest and the Chicago Tribune’s Good Eating Award, which honors achievement in the food and restaurant industry.
Outside of the kitchen, Mantuano is often recognized for his participation on Season Two of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.
His other projects include cookbook collaborations with Cathy Mantuano, a wine expert and former manager of Spiaggia. The husband and wife team authored “The Spiaggia Cookbook” and “Wine Bar Food.”
Judy Contino is an award winning pastry chef with over 30 years of experience at the highest levels of Chicago’s culinary industry.
Contino took her first cooking position in 1983 as an assistant Pastry Chef at Ambria. She then moved on to become the Pastry Chef at Printer’s Row. Only to return to Ambria in 1986 as there head pastry chef; and became part of the team that won Ambria a coveted Four Star rating.
In 1992, after a few years as Lettuce Entertain You’s corporate pastry chef; it was time for her to make a move and start her own success with Bittersweet Pastry Shop and Café. Bittersweet specializes in the exquisite modeling of the Baker’s Art.
Judy Contino whom started as a self-taught baker, was then named “Women Pastry Chef of the Year” in 1992; and New Women’s Magazine’s top ten Women cooks in 1996.
Bittersweet has now been open 16 years and has been named “Best of Chicago” pastry shop, in Chicago Magazine. With a business that continues to grow with the year’s, and is always flourishing with new ideas from Contino’s creative imagination. Judy Contino has showed us that she is truly doing just was she meant to do.
CHEF · PROPRIETAIRE
EIFFEL TOWER, LAS VEGAS
PARIS CLUB, CHICAGO
BRASSERIE JO, BOSTON
A French awakening is happening in River North. Internationally-acclaimed French Chef Joho and RJ and Jerrod Melman have teamed up to introduce the highly-anticipated Paris Club in Chicago's popular River North neighborhood. The trio has set out with a goal of serving up approachable French fare in a casual, urban setting that appeals to a new generation of diners. With an emphasis on plates to share and their spin on updated classics, the Melman brothers and French powerhouse Chef Joho (Everest, Eiffel Tower, Brasserie JO Boston) have assembled an impressive culinary team of some of the most respected names in French dining. With an emphasis on plates to share and their spin on updated classics, the Melman brothers and French powerhouse Chef Joho (Everest, Eiffel Tower, Brasserie JO Boston) have assembled an impressive culinary team of some of the most respected names in French.
Just above the Strip on the 11th floor of the Paris Las Vegas' Eiffel Tower replica, Chef Joho's Eiffel Tower Restaurant offers the city's premier French cuisine, breathtaking views of the Las Vegas strip, and is regarded as the crown jewel in Paris La Vegas' collection of restaurants.
Known the world over for having made an indelible mark on the culinary world with his exquisite personal cuisine, Chef Joho humbly entered the profession as a 6-year-old, peeling vegetables in his aunt's restaurant kitchen. His rise to international success began on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange with, what is now one of the world's premier dining rooms, Everest. Today, his establishments across the country set standards for dining and win accolades at every turn.
Chef Joho's formal training began as a 13-year-old apprentice for Paul Haeberlin of the acclaimed L'Auberge de L'Ill in Alsace, France, and continued in kitchens in France, Italy and Switzerland. By the age of 23, Joho was the sous chef at a Michelin three-star restaurant where he commanded a 35-person staff. It was while he was studying at the Hotel Restaurant School in Strasbourg that Joho immersed himself in the hotel and restaurant business, as well as the arts of pastry, cheese and wine.
A savvy entrepreneur with an unyielding sense of community, Steve Lombardo has helped shape Chicago’s hospitality landscape for over 40 years. He graduated from Saint Joseph College in 1964 with a degree in marketing. From 1964 to 1968, Lombardo served as an officer in the United States Army where he managed a system of twenty Officers’ Clubs. Since 1969 he has founded and operated such successful businesses as BBC Bar & Disco, Hot Spurs Restaurant, and Sweetwater Café in Chicago in, as well as Jubilation Bar & Restaurant in Las Vegas.
In 1989 Steve, along with business partner Hugo Ralli, opened the doors to Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse on the iconic Rush Street in the space which use to house Mister Kelly’s; followed by “sister” restaurant, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House in 1997. Today, Gibsons Restaurant Group includes four restaurant concepts (Gibsons, Hugo’s, LUXBAR, and Quartino) with eight total locations in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Gibsons Restaurant Group is the only restaurant group in the country to feature its own USDA certification. USDA Gibsons Prime Angus beef is breed specific and raised on sustainable farms in the Upper Midwest. In May of 2014, Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse celebrated its 25th anniversary at its flagship Rush Street location and it is evident that Gibsons continues to be the spot to “see and be seen”. Steve, Hugo and Gibsons Restaurant Group have been credited with raising Chicago’s dining scene in the national consciousness with their unyielding dedication to hospitality, quality, and value.
Steve and his wife, Peggy, are actively involved with several charities and organizations throughout the Chicagoland area. Steve is passionate about these causes as well as his work at the restaurants. On the rare occasions when he can get away, Steve enjoys spending time with his family at his home on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin.
Hugo Ralli, an experienced restaurateur, has been involved in the food & beverage business for more than 50 years. Hugo graduated from Eton College (Windsor, England) in 1958 and Ecole Hoteliere De La SSH., (Lausanne, Switzerland). He worked in Food & Beverage Management for Sonesta Hotels in Connecticut and Washington, D.C. from 1964-1970; served as Director of Food & Beverage for Pan American World Airways from 1970-1977; as Managing Director of Tavern on the Green in New York City from 1977-1982; as Vice President of Food & Beverage for John B. Coleman & Co. from 1982-1983; as President of Dial Corporation – Restaura SA in Brussels, Belgium from 1983-1986; and as President & CEO of Dial Corporation-Faber Enterprises in Chicago, Illinois from 1987-1988.
In 1989 Hugo, along with business partner Steve Lombardo, opened Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse in Chicago. Gibsons was opened in the space that once was the iconic Mister Kelly’s. In 1997 they opened Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House – now Chicago’s premier seafood restaurant – next door to Gibsons. Over the next decade, Hugo & Steve continued to grow Gibsons Restaurant Group, which today includes four restaurant concepts (Gibsons, Hugo’s, LUXBAR, and Quartino) with eight locations in the Chicagoland area. Gibsons Restaurant Group is the only restaurant group in the country to be awarded its own USDA certification – USDA Gibsons Prime Angus. Hugo, Steve and Gibsons Restaurant Group have been credited with raising Chicago’s dining scene in the national consciousness with their unyielding dedication to hospitality, quality, and value.
Hugo and his wife, Heidi, are passionate about many animal and children’s charities. When the Ralli’s are able to get away, they spend time with their family and dog Quinn at their home in Charlevoix, Michigan.
“Kiki” came to Chicago 50 years ago and began his restaurant career at Maxim’s de Paris gendrestaurant world have given Chicago two fine dining establishments that have achieved the highest acclaim. He opened the legendary LeBordeaux on Madison Street in the loop on January 1, 1969. LeBordeaux had an authentically French, dreamlike quality in a subterranean atmosphere providing an escape into another world and attracting a unique blend of clientele.
Kiki’s Bistro was opened in 1990 and with 25 years at 900 N. Franklin, he has established a reputation as THE “Renaissance” man of River North. Kiki’s Bistro has been recognized for its authentic French fare by Zagat, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune, among others. Kiki’s Bistro enjoys an international reputation and has a loyal following to this day. The bistro is an ideal location for special events and gatherings with a capacity of 150 customers. The wine list is truly superb and well-priced.
Richard M. Daley, former Mayor of the City of Chicago proclaimed Georges “Kiki” Cuisance Day in recognition of his many accomplishments and for creating and sustaining an authentic French bistro of the highest quality and outstanding customer service in a comfortable setting. Kiki has been a fixture in Chicago and has established his own “landmark status” and he has held an international reputation for his famed and very French restaurants.
Kiki’s Bistro is located at 900 N. Franklin and in a ceremony on Bastille Day, July 14, 2010, the corners of Franklin & Locust were renamed “Rue de Kiki” to commemorate Kiki’s contribution to River North and the neighborhood.