Executive Chef & Owner, Esmé

As the Executive Chef and Owner of the Michelin-starred Esmé in Chicago, Jenner Tomaska oversees the culinary vision for the restaurant, conceptualized alongside wife and partner Katrina Bravo to reimagine the fine dining experience.

Tomaska grew up in the southern suburbs of Chicago, and began his professional culinary career at age 14 as a cook and dishwasher at a local restaurant. He furthered his education at Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, graduating with degrees in both Culinary Arts and Food Service Management. After graduation, Tomaska worked in Hilton Head, South Carolina before returning to Chicago to explore the fine dining scene, eventually working as a tournant at mk The Restaurant under chefs Michael Kornick and Erick Williams.  Tomaska credits Williams for instilling the importance of mission-driven values within a restaurant’s framework, a model that has informed the direction for Esmé while also inspiring Tomaska’s involvement with non-profits such as Kitchen Possible and Ask Chefs Anything.  

After two years at mk, Tomaska joined the team at Next Restaurant, where he was quickly promoted to Sous Chef and, subsequently, Chef de Cuisine in May 2015. In April 2016, Tomaska was named Executive Chef, reporting directly to Chef Grant Achatz to oversee the restaurant's menu transitions. His creative, nuanced approach yielded 18 four-star Chicago Tribune reviews and three, three-star Chicago Tribune reviews, as well as two James Beard Rising Star Chef nominations for Tomaska in 2016 and 2017. In 2024, Chef Jenner was named a James Beard Awards semi finalist for Best Chef - Great Lakes. 

With Esmé -- his and Bravo’s first solo venture -- Tomaska’s nearly 20-year career reaches an apex moment. Esmé’s tasting menu fully transforms each quarter to reveal inspiration from Chicago’s vibrant creative culture. With each collaboration Tomaska and team partner with local artists, creatives and luminaries to create an entirely new experience every 12 weeks that tells a story about the partner's work through thoughtfully-composed dishes, music, and hand-crafted service pieces. Through these relationships, Tomaska and team are cultivating a new vision of hospitality, amplifying the voices and talents of others through the platform of the restaurant.


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