Chef Kai Lermen of The Peninsula Chicago - Biography
A native of Germany, Kai 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 such three-star Michelin restaurants 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, followed by executive chef posts at the Ritz Carlton in both Philadelphia and in Palm Beach, Florida.
This might have been his professional roots, but Lermen learned his passion by watching his dad cook. His father wasn’t a professional chef but an inspired cook who actually traveled to the restaurants he loved and trained with the chefs for two or three weeks at a time. “He worked at basically all of the Michelin three-star restaurants at the time,” recalls Lermen. “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.”
Lermen’s most recent step in that journey was to The Peninsula Chicago in 2009. As executive chef, Lermen not only overseeing all aspects of the hotel’s culinary operation (including the hotel’s three award-winning restaurants and bar, banquets, and 24-hour room service program), he is constantly trying to evolve and improve the hotel’s creative culinary output with detailed, cohesive recipes and innovative menu choices.