Eater Chicago’s NoMI Contest Winner

Congrats to Kristin D. for winning the NoMI Contest

By Ari Bendersky – Eater Chicago

On Monday, Eater kicked off a contest with NoMI that, frankly, we wish everyone could enjoy. The package—dinner at the new NoMI Kitchen, spa tasting treatments, drinks in NoMI Lounge or NoMI Garden and a secret surprise—garnered numerous responses, but in the end only one person could win.

The contest had people tell us why they felt they deserved the prize and it came down to a few really great stories. Ultimately Eater reader Kristin D. was awarded the grand prize. It was a tough call between the top two, so NoMI decided the reward Michael C. with a runner-up prize of brunch for two in NoMI Kitchen. For the rest of you, NoMI officially re-opens to the public June 3 and you can make reservations now.

Want to see why Kristin won? Read her story:

Some people commonly use the phrase “I owe you the world,” when expressing gratitude. When it comes to my fabulous mother, I really do “owe her the world,” or at least something equally as great, such as this amazing experience at NoMI.My mom’s the most hard-working, dedicated, generous woman I’ve ever met. She’s the single most selfless woman I know and I’m not just saying that because she’s my mother. As a cake designer at a local Chicago-area bakery, she starts her days at 4 a.m., and around busy seasons (i.e. holidays, weddings, etc.) doesn’t leave until 4 p.m. I’m aware that others have long days and inconvenient work hours, but day after day, she continuously does it without a single complaint. Everything she does is out of the goodness of her heart. She’s constantly giving to others and rarely makes time for things she deserves. She also acquired another full time job 10 years ago, which consists of taking care of my 96-year-old Grandmother, who now lives with my parents. My mom is always going to doctor appointments, filling countless prescriptions and listening day after day to the ailments of a 96-year-old woman.

I’ve had the pleasure of dining at NoMI, and I was constantly thinking, “My mom would love this.” There’s no one else more deserving of this amazing package than my fabulous mother. I sincerely hope you’ll let me, her daughter, share this wonderful opportunity with her, after all, I owe my mom the world!



Surprise! 13th Ambassador has just been added to our NBA Team!

We are pleased to announce author of Eat, Drink, & Succeed and former White House Director of Events, Laura Schwartz to the NoMI Brand Ambassador line-up!

Laura Schwartz, the former White House Director of Events was 19 when she arrived at the White House in January of 1993.  She climbed her way up the ranks of the Clinton Administration as the Midwest Press Secretary, Director of Television and ultimately the Director of Events, where she produced the President’s events on the world stage. In her first book, Eat, Drink & Succeed! Climb Your Way to the Top Using the Networking Power of Social Events, Laura shares the secrets that skyrocketed her onto the world stage adding color with personal anecdotes from her life & White House years.


Laura Schwartz




Author of Eat, Drink & Succeed, Professional Speaker and Television Commentator





Favorite Band/Artist:


Favorite Chicago summer pastime:

Eating & Drinking Outside with Friends

If you were a spice, what kind of spice would you be and why?

Mrs. Dash because she is all the flavor without all the bad for you salt!

To give back.  (Community involvement/philanthropic efforts you are passionate about):

The American Heart Association (Advocacy Board Member) and the fight against heart disease.  Heart Disease is the #1 killer in America but it’s preventable and treatable if you know your numbers and the positive steps to take. Save your life and someone else’s and spread the word.

United Way – standing united is the only way to build healthier, safer and more educated communities, that’s why I stand along United Way of Greater Chicago

YWCA – being involved in the YWCA Empowerment Evenings and events has taught me the impact of an organization on a city and with the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women as something necessary for all to recognize and the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago does not just recognize the need but they fill it with their volunteers 24/7.

 P.A.V.E. Board member – a national organization that shatters the silence of sexual violence focusing on victims rights, education and prevention.

Eater Chicago Contest: Win a VIP experience at the new NoMI

We are so excited that Eater Chicago has created this contest!  Don’t miss out on a chance to win a fabulous NoMI package that includes dinner, drinks, & spa treatments.

Here are the details:

It’s been closed since January, but NoMI is about to get its big reveal .. as NoMI Kitchen.

And along with the restaurant’s changes—the cheese cave, the Molteni oven, the open kitchen—come upgrades to NoMI Lounge, Garden and Spa. And they want one lucky Eater reader (and a guest) to experience it all.  NoMI Kitchen re-opens June 3 and when it does, whoever wins our contest will get an amazing package:

· Dinner for 2 at NoMI Kitchen with wine pairings
· 2 Customized Spa Treatments from NoMI Spa Tasting Menu
· Drinks in NoMI Lounge or NoMI Garden
· And a special secret surprise …

To enter the contest, tell us, in 250 words or less, why you should get this amazing package. Tell us what NoMI means to you. Tell us why you’re looking forward to the new NoMI Kitchen. Tell us why you should get into that gorgeous spa. Get creative. Write a poem. Send in a haiku. Tell us a tale. Hell, make a picture (since it’s worth 1,000 words, we’ll waive the 250-word limit). Get creative. Be funny. Make us chuckle. Email us your answer by 5 p.m. Thursday, May 26, 2011.

We’ll reveal the winner by noon on Friday. Good luck and have fun!


Aaron Sherman, Sommelier, NoMI Kitchen

Next up on our list of quintessential people of NoMI is sommelier Aaron Sherman who brings over a decade worth of wine experience to NoMI Kitchen, NoMI Lounge, NoMI Garden and of course NoMI Kitchen’s Wine Cellar.  Here Aaron shares favorite food experiences as well as the always valuable insider tips for enjoying Chicago.

If you could experience any restaurant in the world what would it be and why?

If I were picking a restaurant to go to today, it would have to be El Bulli.  Unfortunately, my clock for that is running very short as they are closing for good this summer.  El Bulli has been so influential in the culinary world, it is sad that I’ll never have the opportunity to dine there.

To be honest, though, what I really love is to have a local host lead me to a restaurant I’d never heard of and have a great local meal there; the type of meal that you’d never think you were looking for until you were seated at the table and somebody’s grandmother brought out the food that her grandmother cooked for her. 

A few years ago I was in Tuscany, and it was a tiny hole-in-the-wall spot in the town of Volpaia where the Matron of the restaurant made the most unbelievably flavorful Ribollita (cabbage and bread soup), with a plate of local pecorino cheeses and a glass of wine.  When I was in Japan as a teenager, my host took me to a sushi bar in the basement of an antiques store that looked like it had been carved from a grotto; the “Batcave” of sushi bars. These were not restaurants I would have chosen (I’d never have known where to look); but I can tell you I can still remember every mouthful of soup.  My Ribollita is just not the same yet, but I’m working on it.

What is your favorite wine memory?

After a gathering of friends one night, a fellow wine-conspirator and I gathered up the last dregs of the evening’s bottles and we decided we’d “blend our own meritage.”  Unfortunately the only word to describe our new wine was “…busy.”  I guess we’ve decided to leave the wine-making to others…for now. 

If you weren’t a sommelier, what profession would you be pursuing?

Being a Sommelier is already my third profession – I was a classical musician and a high-school teacher prior to picking up the corkscrew.  However, if I were to pick one more I would probably be an architect. I’ve always loved the sense of harmony created by a well-designed house, the flow from room to room balancing places of comfort/rest/sanctuary and places of energy.  I don’t think I would have been very good though: my wife packs the car because my sense of spatial-relations isn’t all that great, and I can’t really draw much of anything. 

What’s your go-to restaurant in Chicago and why?

I have a couple that I tend to frequent, depending on the mood. Tank Noodle on Argyle makes a wicked bowl of Pho, and on a rainy day there is nothing better than a steaming bowl of noodles (still on the hunt for my perfect Ramen in Chicago).  Ethiopian Diamond (on Broadway) is a great way to dine with friends who like adventure.  And the Purple Pig is my favorite spot to sit at the bar with a friend, order way too much food, and have a bottle or two of wine. 

 What are the five things you would recommend they do/see/experience in Chicago?

Chicago may not always have the best weather, but we have developed some amazing culture here. Any new visitor to the city should definitely check out a performance of the Chicago Symphony or Lyric Opera; amazing orchestras and phenomenal music.  Shakespeare Theater (at Navy Pier) is one of my favorite places to see a show: you’re right up in the action and the company is wonderful. 

If you make it here in summer, it’s imperative to go see a game at Wrigley. There aren’t too many of the old parks left, so soak up the history while you can.  I’d recommend stopping by the Violet Hour for a drink and some deep conversation.  And then, of course, I’d recommend they come spend a night in NoMI Garden.  Nothing like a warm evening in the fresh air with great food and drink!

 What are 3 things you cannot live without at home, (eg. in kitchen, etc.)

1.) My hot-pot.  First thing in the morning is a big mug of earl grey tea.  (Coffee is too much of a process in the morning).  The faster I get boiling water, the sooner I get my tea.

2.) I just got a Sodastream home carbonation machine. Bubbly water any time I want it.  Genius!

3.) Emile Henri popover ramekins. Working at night, breakfast is the meal that I get to enjoy at home; popovers straight from the oven are so good, it’s hard to let them cool enough to not burn my fingers.  Even when I end up with “pop-unders,” they’re still awfully tasty.

NoMI, stuffy no more: Tablecloths out, Meg Galus and Sean Pharr in

By Janet Rausa Fuller, Chicago Sun-Times

The view seems to be the only thing left untouched at NoMI during its five-month renovation.

The 7th-floor restaurant at the swank Park Hyatt is on track to re-open on June 3 with a new name (just barely — NoMI Kitchen), a new attitude (no more tablecloths, no more Dale Chihuly chandeliers — in plain sight, anyway; they are Chihulys, after all), a new color scheme, a new, open kitchen with Molteni stove — and a new culinary team.

Joining executive chef Ryan LaRoche, 32, will be pastry chef Meg Galus, 32, most recently of the Sofitel, and chef de cuisine Sean Pharr, 30, whose resume includes Fat Cat in Uptown, Osteria Via Stato and Fred’s at Barney’s.

It’s a reunion of sorts for the three chefs, who all cut their teeth in the kitchen at Tru, LaRoche as sous chef, Pharr on the fish station and Galus in pastry.

“You get into a role like this, and there’s so much change going on in the restaurant with the menus and my position that I felt I really needed to surround myself with people I knew and trusted,” says LaRoche, who had been chef de cuisine at NoMI for the past two years.

The menu has been much expanded with a focus on “ingredients rather than technique,” LaRoche says. “More about the food than what 50 things can I do with a carrot.” The pricing will be “not as astronomical as before,” he says. “Approachable,” says Lynne Bredfeldt, Park Hyatt’s public relations director.

The sushi bar will offer more shellfish and ceviche in addition to the pristine sushi diners came to expect of the old NoMI.

LaRoche is particularly excited about two new categories on the menu: “Simply Prepared,” with plates such as a New York strip with roasted tomatoes, and “For the Table” — as in, a whole lobe of Hudson Valley foie gras for the table.

“I’m not sure if anybody’s doing that [whole foie preparation] in the city,” he says. “We’ll do a prime, bone-in, dry-aged beef for the table, poached whole chicken for the table. That’s how people want to eat now. The fine-dining dollar has changed dramatically.” (Note: You still can expect that foie to cost you a pretty penny.)

In November, when we first reported on the overhaul, NoMI was celebrating its one Michelin star. Going forward, LaRoche says, the restaurant still has stars in its sight — but it’s taking the longer view.

“We fully intend on keeping our Michelin star, however, we want a busy restaurant and happy customers,” he says.

Our last two NoMI Brand Ambassadors Revealed!

Please welcome Candace Jordan & Mike Axelrod as Official 2011 NBA’s!  Check out our NoMI Brand Ambassador page to see the full list.


Candace is a model/actress and former fashion editor for local magazine.  Currently, she is continuing in fashion and events with her own blog; as well as being involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors.


Candace Collins Jordan




Chicago Magazine dubbed me the “Belle of the Blog”…..other than this I don’t have a clue as to a title!!!!???????


Old Town Triangle


Double Gemini (are you surprised?)

Favorite Band/Artist:  

Bobby Short, Rolling Stones, Joffrey Ballet’s Fabrice Calmels

Favorite Chicago pastime: 

Complaining about the weather

Spice Question: 

Rosemary……Its smell reminds me of wonderful places like the Mediterranean.

Community Involvement: 

Common Threads, The Joffrey Ballet, Ronald McDonald House Charities, PAWS, Victory Gardens Theater, Center on Halsted, Aids Foundation of Chicago

Michael Axelrod has grown up in the “family business” of electoral politics. Michael began his career working in a variety of campaign management capacities for the firm, AKPD Message & Media which his father David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States, and former campaign strategist for Obama for America created. With Axelrod’s extensive campaign and corporate client experience, he recently founded the consulting firm, Grant Park Global.


Mike Axelrod


Managing Partner at Grant Park Global



Favorite Band/Artist:

Bruce Springsteen

Favorite Chicago summer pastime:

Being able to dine outside

If you were a spice, what kind of spice would you be and why?

Sage, since Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday

To give back. 

(Community involvement/philanthropic efforts you are passionate about):  CURE : Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy