In his 20s, while following a life-long dream to become a musician, Sepia Executive Chef Andrew 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. Soon, he was working as a sous chef under Renato Sommelia, whom he cites as one of his strongest culinary mentors. He spent nearly three years working under Sommelia and then enrolled in the prestigious French Culinary Institute. Zimmerman graduated first in his class at the FCI in 2000 and never looked back.

Zimmerman continued working on the East Coast, and after three years, was ready to make a move. Drawn to Chicago by the abundance of world-class restaurants, he accepted a position at the Park Hyatt Chicago working alongside Chef Sandro Gamba. In 2004, he met restaurateur Terry Alexander, who was impressed with his capabilities, and hired him as Executive Chef at MOD. From there, the duo opened del Toro, which received wide acclaim.

Zimmerman returned to the Park Hyatt as the chef de cuisine at NoMI, working with Christophe David. In 2008, he was introduced to Emmanuel Nony, and the following year, Nony offered Zimmerman the executive chef position at Sepia.

“Andrew brings not only strong creativity to Sepia, but a strong sense of leadership and maturity to the position. He perfectly understands our mission of blending rustic and contemporary cuisine,” says Nony.

Since taking the lead in the kitchen at Sepia, Zimmerman has gained national culinary acclaim. In 2010, he had the honor of cooking dinner at the James Beard House, and in 2011 was invited to take part in the high-profile national Cochon 555 tour, as well as Cochon Heritage Fires in Napa, CA. His work with inventive American cuisine at Sepia has earned him a Michelin star in both 2011 and 2012, a humbling honor which he values highly. Zimmerman was also the recipient of a Rising Star Chef Award by in 2011, and was nominated in the “Chef of the Year” category for the 2012 Jean Banchet Awards. In 2012, he received his first James Beard Award nomination in the category of Best Chef: Great Lakes. Along with other high-profile cooking events, Chef Zimmerman has been a repeat participant in the Food & Wine Entertaining Showcase.

Zimmerman and his wife Lindsey, a clothing designer, live in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood with their young daughter. When not working, they can be found traveling…and finding inspiration all along the way.