Hyatt Regency Chicago announced the promotion of Roberto J. Alicea from Executive Sous Chef to Food & Beverage Director, effective immediately. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing the hotel’s restaurants—Stetsons Modern Steak + Sushi, American Craft Kitchen & Bar, BIG Bar, and Market Chicago—as well as in-room dining and catering. Alicea has a long and prosperous history with Hyatt Corporation beginning in high school, and brings a passion for experimenting with flavors along with immense dedication and experience, both inside and outside Hyatt.
Raised in Chicago, Alicea’s journey with Hyatt began at just 14 years old when he attended Roberto Clemente High School, which offered a food course sponsored by the Hyatt Corporation that changed his life. Having originally spent time with the wrong crowd, Alicea participated in the food course where Hyatt Executive Chefs taught students how to cook in a kitchen located on campus. The chefs took notice of his knife skills and natural talent, and offered him an internship at Hyatt Regency Chicago the summer before his sophomore year of high school. Following this internship, Alicea return to school that fall with a new outlook and determination.
After five years of honing his skills at Hyatt Regency Chicago, Alicea spent 18 months as a line cook at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Florida, under the guidance of Kenneth Durand, one of Hyatt Corporation’s most respected chefs. After which, he returned to Chicago and accepted his first official chef job at Hyatt Regency McCormick.
Alicea then took on a few exciting challenges outside the Hyatt portfolio, first as a sous chef at One Sixtyblue Blue in Chicago, and then as a private chef. In May of 2000, Alicea returned to Hyatt to help open the acclaimed Nomi restaurant in Park Hyatt Chicago. In 2003, he was promoted to Executive Chef at Park Hyatt Beverly Hills at just 23 years old, making him the youngest Executive Chef in the Hyatt Corporation. After five years in this role, he returned to Chicago as the Corporate Executive Chef, playing an integral part in opening Hyatt restaurants worldwide at hotels in Trinidad, San Antonio, Scottsdale, West Hollywood, and New York. Most recently, Alicea served as the Executive Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency Chicago from 2012-2016.
“Chef Alicea oversaw the culinary teams at our four food and beverage concepts, and lead a major overhaul of the menus,” says Patrick Donelly, general manager, Hyatt Regency Chicago. “His leadership, culinary talent, experience, and overall vision for the restaurants have gained momentum at the hotel. He is a true asset to our hotel and is proving to be a leader in the industry.”
Alicea lives with his wife and two children. To this day, he continues to visit Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago to speak with troubled teens about his success, and how cooking and hard work has changed his life.