Chef Zimmerman chooses to compose menus over music

Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:47pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Andrew Zimmerman realized his creativity was best served in the kitchen rather than on the road as a guitarist, despite tasting early musical success.

As the executive chef of Sepia in Chicago, he has garnered praise for his contemporary, Mediterranean-inspired dishes that feature local, seasonal ingredients.

The 38-year-old spoke to Reuters about heading the kitchen of an established restaurant, the Chicago dining scene and his music career:

Q: You became the head chef of an already successful restaurant. What kind of changes have you made to the menu?

A: "All the dishes have been changed. The basic sentiment is still the same. Emmanuel (Nony, the owner) and Kendal (Duque), the previous chef have an American restaurant that uses a lot of local farm ingredients. Kendal's food has an inflection of the Mediterranean also. His background is kind of similar (as mine). We just interpret that differently."

Q: What is that difference?

A: "The primary difference is that Kendal's approach is a little more rustic and mine is a little more refined in technique and approach."

Q: Sepia's menu is seasonally driven. How quickly do you and your team compose dishes?   Continued...

<p>Chef Andrew Zimmerman is seen in an undated handout photo. REUTERS/Lara Kastner/Handout</p>