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Chicago Gourmet - bio: Kai Lermen
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Kai Lermen

The Peninsula Chicago

Kai Lermen joined The Peninsula Chicago as Executive Chef in January 2009. Chef Lermen oversees all aspects of the hotel’s culinary operation including the hotel’s four award-winning restaurants and bar, banquets and 24- hour room service program. 
Prior to working for The Peninsula Chicago, Chef Kai Lermen was Executive Chef for The Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach and prior to that he held the position of Executive Chef for The Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia.
A native of Germany, Chef Lermen’s innovative culinary approach has its roots in some of Europe’s finest restaurants. After finishing his studies at the prestigious European culinary institute, Hotelfachschule in Vilingen-Schwenningen, Lermen went on to work in many three-star Michelin restaurants such as Auberge d’Ill under Chefs Paul and Marc Haeberlin in France, Restaurant Aubergine with Chef Eckart Witzigman in Munich and with Chef Andre Jaeger at Restaurant Fischerzunft in Switzerland. His first experience in North America was at The Sutton Place Hotel in Vancouver, a AAA Five-Diamond award-winning restaurant. 
Chef Lermen got his start by watching his dad cook. “My dad wasn’t a chef per se, but a friend of my dad’s told him to learn how to cook because he loved food so much. He traveled to restaurants where he liked to eat and trained with chefs for two to three weeks at each, including Auberge de I’lle. He worked at basically all of the Michelin three-star restaurants at the time. When he came home, we went to the market and he showed me what to do with all of the ingredients. That’s when it started to click for me. When I finished school, I told my dad that I wanted to be a chef,” recalled Chef Lermen.
When asked about what he is doing to shape the culinary identity of The Peninsula Chicago, Lermen responded, “While I’ve only been at The Peninsula Chicago a short time, the first thing I do at any property is to analyze how things are going. Then you pick the areas you want to work on. The Peninsula Chicago always was, and is, a strong culinary hotel. You don’t have to fix anything, so you build on top of it. Then you try to put your own footprint on it. Since I’ve been here, I’ve created more detailed recipes and more cohesive descriptions. We have worked on The Lobby menu to give our guests more variety and keep them dining at the hotel. We added a small steak section, so that if someone is craving steak, we can satisfy that craving. We also have a ‘Naturally Peninsula section on the menu where we offer products from local, natural growers.  Pierrot Gourmet, our French bistro, as well as our Bar and Banquet menus have been updated as well.”
The Peninsula Chicago, opened in 2001, and features four award-winning restaurants and a bar as well as a world-class spa and 339 guestrooms and suites, each furnished in a contemporary, yet sophisticated style. The hotel continues to receive numerous awards including the coveted Forbes’ Five Star Award (formerly Mobil), AAA Five Diamond Award, Zagat’s ‘Number Two in the World’ and ‘Number One in the U.S.’ for the last five years.  

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