After graduating first in his class from the French Culinary Institute, Zimmerman went on to work in various kitchens before landing a position at 2Senza in Red Bank, New Jersey. Working for three years under his mentor, Chef Renato Sommelia, the rising star chef packed his bags for the Midwest upon accepting a position along Chef Sandro Gamba at Park Hyatt Chicago. In 2004, Zimmerman met restaurateur Terry Alexander, who hired him as Executive Chef at MOD, and after his stint at MOD, the duo opened the widely-acclaimed del Toro. Zimmerman later returned to the Park Hyatt as the chef de cuisine at NoMI, under Chef Christophe David. In 2008, he was introduced to Emmanuel Nony, and the next year, Nony offered Zimmerman the executive chef position at Sepia. At this West Loop restaurant, this rock star chef integrates modern American and traditional European influences into dishes that blend complex textures and flavors with and clean, elegant presentations—sort of like a tight riff on a classic melody.
Nomination: Outstanding Wine Program (Sepia)
For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here.