CHICAGO, IL – April 8, 2015 – Rich Melman, founder of Lettuce Entertain You and recipient of this year’s James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, with Chef/Partner Matthew Kirkley, will bring together rising star chef talent from around the country to create a once-in-a-lifetime dinner series at Intro, LEYE’s new rotating-chef restaurant.  From Friday, May 1 through Saturday, May 9 (excluding Monday, May 4), this collaborative series will feature a six-course menu every night composed by James Beard Award ‘Rising Star Chef’ nominees (Jessica Largey of Manresa and Ari Taymor of Alma), Intro chefs (CJ Jacobson and Erik Anderson) and other visiting chef talent (including Chef Ben Sukle of Birch and Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis). Not only is this the perfect opportunity to experience the cuisine of James Beard Award-nominated rising star chefs but also to sample Chef Anderson’s cuisine at the restaurant before he takes the helm at Intro from May 14. Tickets range from $95-$125, non-inclusive of beverage, tax and gratuity. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The James Beard Foundation. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit


‘Rising Star Chef’ Nominee, Chef & Founding Owner Ari Taymor, Alma
Ari Taymor opened Alma after working in San Francisco at flour+water, Bar Tartine and Plate Shop, as well as La Chassagnette in Arles, France. Inspired by the mentorship from incredible chefs  including Kim Alter, Tom McNaughton and Jeremy Fox, Taymor aims to use both familiar and obscure ingredients to create dishes that will curate a unique experience for each guest, and one that is succinctly Alma.

‘Rising Star Chef’ Nominee, Chef de Cuisine Jessica Largey, Manresa
Prior to joining Manresa in 2009, Jessica Largey, a Southern California native, worked in the kitchens of Providence in Los Angeles, The Fat Duck in England, LAMILL Coffee Boutique in Los Angeles, and Bastide Restaurant in West Hollywood. Since becoming chef de cuisine in 2012, Largey has received recognition from the San Francisco Chronicle as “Rising Star Chef of 2014,” Zagat’s “30 under 30,” Eater “Young Guns,” and has also been nominated as a “Rising Star Chef of the Year” from the James Beard Foundation in 2014 and 2015.

Chef/Owner Benjamin Sukle, birch
At Birch, Sukle combines his traditional training and non-traditional experiences to craft an accessible and environmentally engaging menu. The name “birch” comes from childhood nostalgia: Pennsylvania Dutch birch beer was something Sukle cherished growing up. Fittingly, nostalgia is a major inspiration to the experience at birch, as is the regional environment. In the same way a birch tree starts from its roots, Sukle takes a “from the roots up” approach to all aspects of the dining experience. The cuisine is creative and modern, expressing the best of New England’s seasonal environment. In the short time birch has been open, Sukle has been fortunate enough to be nominated for “Best Chef: Northeast” by the James Beard Foundation.

Intro Chef-in-residence, CJ Jacobson
Los Angeles-based CJ Jacobson is the first chef-in-residence at Intro. His cooking revolves around the use of local ingredients, where foraging plays a main role in the flavor profiles that he creates in the kitchen. Jacobson, the executive chef at Girasol restaurant in Studio City, CA, has starred on two seasons of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and most recently won “Top Chef Duels.” He has worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants, including Campanile, under Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton; and world-renowned Copenhagen restaurant Noma, working closely with acclaimed Chef René Redzepi.

Intro Chef-in-residence, Erik Anderson
Erik Anderson is a born and bred Chicagoan, who has previously been named “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine in 2012, and has also earned a James Beard Foundation Award nomination. Anderson has worked in world-renowned kitchens under culinary superstars, including Chef Thomas Keller at his three Michelin-starred restaurant, The French Laundry, as well as under Chef Doug Flicker at Auriga. Anderson also co-helmed the kitchen at The Catbird Seat in Nashville, which received numerous accolades, including Bon Appétit’s “Best New Restaurants in America,” as well as GQ’s “Top Ten Best New Restaurants in America.” He has also appeared on “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” PBS’s “The Mind of a Chef,” and VICE’s “Munchies.” Anderson plans to take all he learns during his tenure at Intro and applying it to the opening of Brut, a modern French restaurant in Minneapolis he will open with partner, Jamie Malone, in fall 2015.

Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis
Michael Laiskonis was named Creative Director of New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education in 2012. Previously Executive Pastry Chef Le Bernardin for eight years, his pastry philosophy manifests itself in a style of desserts that balance art and science, and contemporary ideas with classic fundamentals. Awarded Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2007 by the James Beard Foundation, his work also helped the restaurant maintain three stars from the esteemed Michelin Guide, and four stars from The New York Times. He was named Bon Appétit’s “2004 Pastry Chef of the Year,” and Star Chefs declared him a Rising Star in 2006. In his five-year tenure as Pastry Chef at Tribute in Detroit, Pastry Art and Design twice named him one of the “10 Best Pastry Chefs in America.” In 2014, the International Association of Culinary Professionals tapped him as its “Culinary Professional of the Year.” Ever eager to expand his own knowledge, Laiskonis is excited to find himself in a position to give something back to the culinary community after nearly twenty years in the kitchen. In 2015, he launched the ICE Chocolate and Confections Lab, with full bean-to-bar chocolate-making capability. Beyond developing and teaching an ever-evolving battery of technical skill, he hopes to inspire the next generation of young cooks by sharing his perspective of the creative process, as well as the underlying drive and determination necessary to succeed as a chef.

Intro was conceptualized with four goals in mind: to introduce Chicago to new talent, to introduce new chefs to a balanced way of running a business, to introduce the Lettuce kitchen and service staff to up and coming chefs/entrepreneurs, and to introduce Lettuce to new culinary talent. Intro is the first Lettuce concept to utilize Tock, a new ticketing system platform. In addition to purchasing tickets on, reservations are available on beginning 30 days out or by calling 773-868-0002. Intro is located at 2300 N. Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL. Intro is closed Sunday and Monday, open for dinner Tuesday – Thursday 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. For news, events, ticket availabilities and menu changes, guests can follow Intro’s social media on Twitter and Instagram at @IntroChicago.