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Our People

Grant Achatz

Owner / Chef

Chef Grant Achatz is one of the most awarded and recognized chefs in the world. Known for his innovative, emotional, and modernist style of cuisine, he has been named Best Chef in the United States by the James Beard Foundation, honored by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and has given talks and lectures on gastronomy and design at conferences and universities around the world.

Grant began working in restaurants as soon as he could walk. His parents owned a diner in Michigan, and he spent his childhood years working alongside his family.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at age 21, Grant spent a short time at Charlie Trotter’s before finding his mentor in chef Thomas Keller at the French Laundry. Grant worked for a total of 5 years at the French Laundry, eventually rising to chef de cuisine. During his time in California, he also spent a year working at La Jota vineyards.

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Jenner Tomaska

Executive Chef

Jenner grew up in the southern suburbs of Chicago; at 14, he began his professional culinary career as a cook and dishwasher at a local restaurant. He went on to attend Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, graduating with degrees in both Culinary Arts and Food Service Management.

After graduation, Jenner worked in Hilton Head before returning back to Chicago to explore the fine dining scene. He eventually landed in Chicago as a tournant at MK under chefs Michael Kornick and Erick Williams. After two years at MK, Jenner left to join the team at Next, where he was quickly promoted to Sous Chef and then Chef de Cuisine in May 2015.

Jenner was promoted to Executive Chef in April 2016. He was a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Rising Star Chef in 2016 and 2017. While he favors classic French techniques, Jenner continually exhibits an enthusiasm to build his knowledge and skill set with the dynamic and ever-changing menus of Next.

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Ed Tinoco

Chef de Cuisine

Ed knew he wanted to be a chef as soon as he moved to New York City at the age of ten. He grew up in Astoria, Queens and took his first job in the industry as a dishwasher at Vesta Trattoria. In three and a half years, he rose through the ranks all the way to Sous Chef. Ed left Vesta Trattoria to join Perilla Restaurant, where he was hired as grill cook. One year later, he was promoted to Sous Chef.

When Ed was 22 years old, he moved to Chicago to work for Grant Achatz. He began as a Chef de Partie at Next and, over the next two years, was promoted first to Sous Chef and then to Chef de Cuisine.

As Chef de Cuisine, Ed oversees the day-to-day operations at Next. He is guided, both in and out of the kitchen, by his belief in integrity and the mantra that you should always do the right thing, even if no one is watching.

In 2017, Ed was nominated as a Young Guns semifinalist by Eater.

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Gary Obligacion

Director of Operations

Gary's hospitality career began at Alice Water's landmark restaurant, Chez Panisse, while he was a freshman at UC Berkeley in 1984. Over the past several decades, he has worked at a variety of award-winning restaurants and hotels including Boulevard Restaurant, The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, and Pebble Beach Resorts. Gary was enticed to the world of major food events and was the initial Operations Director of Pebble Beach Food & Wine. It was there that he met Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Gary was asked to join The Alinea Group as Director of Service Operations in 2012 and has served in that capacity since then.

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Robyn Montes

General Manager

A Chicagoland native, Robyn got her start in the hospitality business when she was seventeen years old. After spending two years traveling as a flight attendant with United Airlines, she returned to the Chicago restaurant scene. Robyn continued to keep one foot planted in the service industry while pursuing other goals, including her degree in Political Science from Roosevelt University. Most recently, she spent four years at DMK Restaurants working at several of their locations. While at DMK, Robyn found excitement in the challenge of opening restaurants and being a part of several opening teams.

Robyn has always been passionate about the service side of the industry. She brings to Next her enthusiasm for collaboration and creativity between the front and back of the house and a proven commitment to excellence in hospitality.

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953 W. Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
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