Top Chef winner and former Executive Chef of Michelin-starred Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia Joe Flamm has not only confirmed that his debut restaurant will open in Chicago’s Fulton Market District at 932 W. Fulton St. in early 2021, but he has also unveiled the highly anticipated restaurant’s name: Rose Mary (two words).
“Rose Mary is the culmination of everything I have done with my career,” says Flamm. “But more importantly, it’s the culmination of my personal journey thus far. It’s a marriage of who I am, what I’ve learned, and the person I’ve built a life and a family with.”
Rosemary, known as “the dew of the sea”, is a shrub native to the rocky regions of the Mediterranean and Adriatic. It grows along the Italian and Croatian coastlines, effortlessly bridging the gap between two very distinct yet harmonious countries, cultures, and cuisine.
Flamm is known for his award-winning Italian fare, which helped him earn Bravo TV’s coveted title of Top Chef in 2018. Indeed, much of his career is rooted in Italian cooking and technique. Italy is also a huge piece of Flamm’s heritage; it’s where his family is from and a country that he has traveled extensively throughout. Flamm credits his maternal grandmother, Mary, for instilling in him a love for Italian cuisine. Before attending culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, he learned to make pasta, sauces, meatballs, and more with her at home. Flamm was also incredibly close with his paternal grandmother, Mary Rose, before she passed away.
The family of Flamm’s wife, Hillary, is from Croatia. Just before their son, Luka, was born nearly two years ago, the two took a trip to Croatia, driving up and down the Adriatic coast. They experienced everything the country has to offer and fell head over heels in love with it.
Now, inspired by Flamm’s Italian heritage and the rich history of small seaside villages along the Adriatic Sea, Flamm wants to tell a story about the blending of these countries, cultures, and cuisines; a story that he and his wife are part of and that truly has yet to be told.
Rose Mary will feature what Flamm has coined Adriatic drinking food: “It’s the food you find at lively restaurants and taverns on the side of the road in countries along the Adriatic,” he says. “Somewhere that’s casual and fun, with food that’s vibrant, bold, super flavorful, and of course, heavily rooted in Italian technique.” Not surprisingly, rosemary will be utilized in thoughtful ways throughout the menu.
The beverage program will be driven by wine. Working year after year with award-winning Wine Director and Sommelier Rachael Lowe and James Beard-award winning Chef Tony Mantuano at Spiaggia, it would be nearly impossible for Flamm to envision a restaurant where wine didn’t play a starring role. More specifically, Rose Mary will feature a number of smaller European producers that many people in America have not had the opportunity to experience along with classic Italian producers that Flamm has become familiar with.
“The program as a whole will be really approachable, playful, and fun—just like the food. There will be something for everyone,” says Flamm.
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