Rising Star Chef Julie Warpinski of Big Star - Biography

Chicago, IL

May 2018

An Illinois native from a family of farmers, Julie Warpinski studied dietetics in college. After realizing she wasn’t keen on working in hospitals for the rest of her career, she enrolled in culinary school at Kendall College in Chicago. After graduation, she trained at Xoco, Rick Bayless’ quick-service street food spot, which was her first foray into Mexican cuisine. At Xoco, Warpinski was struck by how close the Mexican flavors were to the food of her own upbringing—food that was slow-cooked with fresh vegetables and homey authenticity. She also has cooked with Rising Stars alums Jason Hammel at Lula Cafe and Erling-Wu Bower at Publican Quality Meats, whom she credits with teaching her how to think critically about food.

In 2015, Warpinski took over the kitchen at Big Star, where a busy day might mean making 8,000 tacos. Where a lesser chef might get crushed by the volume of al pastor, Warpinski has chosen to define a new era of Big Star. She has added more vegan and vegetarian dishes to the menu and streamlined production to make sure every double-broiled order of queso fundido has the same heart-warming heft. Three years into her leadership run, One Off Hospitality charged Warpinski with a brand new Big Star near Wrigley Field.