This year's 40 Under 40 list of the city's
biggest overachievers people to watch has just come out courtesy of Crain's Chicago Business and, as usual, it represents a great mix of people from a cross section of industries throughout the city. While you'd expect to see a number of finance and tech folks on the list, there is a slew of people from the food industry making a solid showing.
Next executive chef Dave Beran, at 30, made the list for his imaginative, inventive menus he and Grant Achatz create for the quarterly changing Fulton Market restaurant. While his rise to chef de cuisine at Alinea before heading up the kitchen at Next was fast, he started out working with Achatz as a food runner when no jobs were available in the kitchen. And how he gains inspiration for some of those whimsical dishes, like plating food on a log during the Next Childhood menu? Clearing his mind during morning marathon-training runs.
Following in the footsteps of their hugely successful restaurateur dad, Rich Melman, R.J. and Jerrod Melman are already paving their own road and don't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The brothers already own five restaurants (two are in L.A.), including Paris Club and Hub 51, and are working on opening a new Italian project with Bill and Giuliana Rancic in the former Ben Pao space.
When you order food online, you can thank Mike Evans for that. As one of the co-founders of Chicago-based GrubHub, Evans has seen his company soar since launching it in 2004. GrubHub now has 15,000 restaurants on its interface, 240 employees and will process more than $250 million in food orders in 2011.
It's surprising to hear that the founder of a healthy fast-food chain likes to unwind with a glass of Scotch and a cigar, but when you run a growing empire that currently has 50 restaurants across the country (six in Chicago), you can kick back any way you see fit. And that's exactly what Matthew Corrin, founder of Freshii, does when he's not overseeing $50 million in annual sales.
If you need a great excuse to get outside the city, Cooper's Hawk is one of them. This restaurant/winery founded by 35-year-old Tim McEnery started with one location in Orland Park now comprises eight spots throughout the Midwest. McEnery hopes to bring that number up to 15 by 2013 and projects sales this year of around $50 million while producing 125,000 cases of wine.
Jiffy Pop this is not. When Pam Netzky first opened Wells Street Popcorn, her plan was to continue expanding, but when theaters downtown asked her to supply popcorn for their concessions a new business took off and Skinny Pop was born. The healthy, low-calorie bagged popcorn now sells in 1,500 stores across the country and is growing on a monthly basis.
Finally, who knew suing your family for your inheritance would lead to investing in a number of small, local businesses? Matthew Pritzker is taking his money and putting it back into Chicago in different sectors, including food. He has put money into HomeMade Pizza Co. and is working to make their business, with $15 million in revenue last year, even more successful. And how does he unwind? Like any good foodie, he likes to cook.
· 40 Under 40 Class of 2011 [Crain's]