Chef Nick Santangelo of Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap - Biography

Chicago, IL

June 2018

Nick Santangelo was born and raised in Elmwood Park, Illinois, a near west suburb of Chicago, and has lived in the Chicagoland area his whole life. After attending Western Illinois University, Santangelo took a traditional desk job with a hotel supply company. Seven years later, he got the urge to explore the culinary arts, attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago while working his day job. After graduating, Santangelo worked his way into the industry by taking on part-time kitchen work. Soon, he made the full switch, earning the senior sous chef position at the Marriott in Schaumburg, Illinois. When the Marriott property changed hands, Santangelo began working for himself as a caterer and later as a chef for a rehabilitation center. During this same period, Santangelo aided a new generation of chefs while instructing at a culinary school in Forest Park.  

Santangelo broke into the Chicago restaurant scene at Café de Luca, taking over as chef. He cooked contemporary Italian cuisine for both the Bucktown and suburban locations, developing a food philosophy that centers on simple, clean flavors and fresh ingredients. Santangelo then joined Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap in 2012 as a sous chef. From the start, he embraced the transition from contemporary Italian cooking to innovative and flavorful barbecue. As executive chef, Santangelo characterizes his menu in three words: smoke, spice, beer.