After the recent exit of pastry chef Amanda Rockman (who moved to Austin to be closer to family and to work on a new project), Nico Osteria has dug deep for a worthy successor: Café des Achitectes' pastry chef and Jean Banchet award-winner Leigh Omilinsky, which was first reported by Chicago magazine.
Omilinsky feels the choice is apt since she and Rockman are friends (she indicated her sadness over Rockman's departure from the city) and that, after seeing how the pastry program at Nico is set up, she realized the two share a "weirdly similar" thought process.
Her first love is Italy (she's been there three times), so creating desserts and breads in an Italian fashion is something she's eager to explore. "It's exciting to be within those walls," she says of Nico. But when she starts on June 27, don't expect any changes to Rockman's menu for at least a month-and-a-half. "(Nico's) emphasis is on quality," she states, continuing that "before it changes over it needs to be right." Heads up: if you're a fan of the Nico torte you may want to get in while you still can as Omilinsky indicates it may not make the cut (though tiramisu, in some form, she insists will stay).
It was a bittersweet and hard decision to leave Café des Architectes (where she's worked at for nearly five years) and the recently launched Chestnut Provisions, Omilinsky says, adding that "(executive chef) Greg Biggers and I work ridiculously well together." For now, she's concentrating on passing the torch to her team, making sure that they know how to do what she does in her absence.
As for what she'll miss besides working alongside Biggers? "The people, the relationships and the cheese."