Managing Partner, MAD Social Vice President, Inspired Catering and Events by Karen and Gina Stefani
Stefani discovered her love for the industry at a young age while assisting at her father’s restaurants (Castaways, anyone?) during breaks from school. Over her short tenure in the industry, Gina has had the opportunity to work with distinguished dignitaries, including everyone from former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to President Obama and The First Lady. Stefani’s latest endeavor, MAD Social, is a personal project that’s targeted for an early February launch in the West Loop. Diners and drinkers can expect a neighborhood spot that will offer globally inspired shareable plates with a New American twist. “My dad was at Stefani’s every night and knew almost everyone,” said Stefani. “I want MAD to be that way. I want to be able to greet everyone who comes in and really get to know the neighborhood.”
Corporate Pastry Chef, DINE|AMIC GROUP
When a pastry chef has a background as a sculptor and a cartographer, you know amazing things are on the horizon. To Arnold, pastry is yet another form of creative expression. “Art has always been a huge part of my life in one form or another,” Arnold said. “I drew and sculpted when I was younger and that led to cake sculpting. After going back to school to become a savory chef, my artistic talent led me to the pastry side of things.” Arnold is well-known for her gelato featuring wildly creative flavor profiles, like Honey and Milk Chocolate with Bee Pollen and Fresno Chili and Peach. But according to Arnold, the best-selling gelato is caramel with ribbons of house-made salted caramel. Another customer favorite is the bombolonis at Siena Tavern, which allows lucky diners to inject their own filling.
Amy + Clodagh Lawless
Proprietors, The Dearborn
When you have successful restaurateurs for parents, it’s only natural that you’d want to follow in their footsteps. After learning the ropes of the hospitality business from a very young age, Amy and Clodagh Lawless are finally breaking out to launch their own concept. The Dearborn—a contemporary urban American tavern exemplified by top-notch Irish hospitality—is slated to open by this summer. “Amy and I have been involved in all aspects of our family business, so we will have shared responsibilities for the front and back of the house,” said Clodagh. While dreaming up the perfect formula for a lively bar scene and working with Executive Chef Aaron Cuschieri (Top Chef New Orleans Season 11] on a seasonally-inspired menu sounds like a dream job, Amy cautions entrepreneurialism is not child’s play. “Launching your own business is an incredibly exciting possibility, but you must be prepared to roll up your sleeves, do the work, and have an abundance of patience and perseverance.” fw