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Stepping into the newly expanded restaurant and hotel role of Executive Chef, Joe Lambert has been at Nico Osteria with two-time, James Beard award-winning chef, Paul Kahan since the first year the restaurant opened in 2013. Lambert has worked his way up through the ranks of the kitchen taking on integral roles from line cook, to sous chef, to chef de cuisine as the restaurant was recognized with critical acclaim (named one of Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants of 2014) throughout the years. 

“Our goal at Nico has always been to present the freshest seafood and incredibly soulful dishes. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in the Gold Coast, we know that we’re leaving this kitchen in the best hands possible,” says Kahan. "I’ve watched Joe grow over the years from a confident line cook to an established and enthusiastic chef. Not only is he qualified and capable of continuing to provide the really beautiful housemade pastas and imaginative meals that the restaurant has become known for, he also has an exciting vision of where he’d like to take Nico on his own."

Expect to see food that continues to convey peak of season seafood and shellfish prevalent along the Italian coast, as well as rustic dishes from Lambert, such as King Crab Cioppino, a hearty fish stew comprised of nduja tomato brodo (broth), smoked shrimp, whitefish, clams, mussels and finished with a made-from-scratch saffron aioli. As we settle into colder months ahead, guests can look forward to warming up with hearty Italian fare like Lamb Tortelloni with roasted mushrooms, black currant, truffle crème fraiche, Pecorino Romano, and dill. Another specialty Lambert is bringing to the menu is a 28 day Dry Aged Ribeye, served alongside rich bone marrow, and finished with caper butter, grilled lemon and roasted garlic.

Expanding his reach to encompass multiple facets of the Thompson Chicago hotel, Lambert will lead the culinary programs for Nico Osteria and Salone Nico, as well as the hotel's banquet and catering offerings.

“Joe has been an integral part of the team for many years and we are looking forward to having him head our culinary operations,” says Onal Kucuk, General Manager of Thompson Chicago. “With Joe leading the charge of our dynamic food programs, we will continue to provide exceptional dining experiences for our regulars, as well as our guests at Thompson Chicago.” 

About Joe Lambert

A midwest native, Joe Lambert was drawn to the culinary world at an early age. Growing up in Dubuque, Iowa, Lambert found inspiration in his father's passion for cooking and sharing food with others. Eager to pursue a cooking career in a large culinary landscape, Lambert moved to Chicago, where he interned under acclaimed chef Michael McDonald at One Sixtyblue in 2010. Climbing the ranks in Chicago’s burgeoning food scene, Lambert worked as a line cook at popular hot spots like Boka Restaurant Group’s neighborhood Italian restaurant, Balena. 

Sparked with a passion for Mediterranean cuisine, Lambert then joined James Beard Awarded Executive Chef / Partner Paul Kahan at One Off Hospitality’s newly opened coastal-Italian inspired seafood restaurant within the Thompson Chicago hotel. Beginning as a line cook in 2014, Lambert quickly ascended to roles of kitchen supervisor, sous chef, executive sous chef and chef de cuisine. Now as Executive Chef of the Thompson Chicago hotel and Nico Osteria, Lambert aims to maintain the heart of Nico Osteria, while imbuing the menu with a rustic elegance that harkens back to the sun-drenched regions of the Italian coast.

About Nico Osteria

Ushering in a new era of dining in the storied Gold Coast neighborhood, Nico Osteria at the Thompson Chicago hotel offers a menu of refined, coastal Italian cuisine to both travelers and local diners alike. Led by Executive Chef Joe Lambert, the restaurant’s culinary program highlights fresh, sustainable seafood and shellfish through house-made pastas and crudos, as well as inventive takes on traditional antipasti, like seafood sausage stuffed calamari with squid ink risotto. The pastry program complements these rustic dishes with made-from-scratch desserts, gelati and pastries. The bar program is balanced out by Wine Director Bret Heiar, who has created an unorthodox yet surprisingly approachable list of Old World, European-focused varietals and natural wines collected through world travels and estate sales, sure to please both casual wine drinkers as well as seasoned connoisseurs.

Nico Osteria’s 108-seat main dining room is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with Salone Nico, a stylish, 60-seat meeting place ideal for grabbing a light bite or libation. For more information, please visit www.nicoosteria.com, 1015 North Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611 or call 312.994.7100. Connect with Nico Osteria on social media by following the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram (@NicoOsteria).

About Thompson Chicago

Thompson Chicago is an award-winning hotel featuring 247 guest rooms and interiors by renowned British designer Tara Bernerd. The hotel boasts stunning views of both Lake Michigan and the city and is just steps away from Michigan Avenue, boutiques on Oak Street, and downtown’s finest dining and nightlife destinations. Situated off of the hotel’s lobby is Nico Osteria, an Italian seafood-driven restaurant. Thompson Chicago also features 12,225 square feet of meeting, pre-function and catering space, accommodating up to 200 guests. In addition, the property offers private dining rooms and a reception area, as well as six two-level penthouse lofts. Thompson Chicago was named one of the top three hotels in Chicago in Travel + Leisure’s 2018 and 2017 World’s Best Awards and has received honors from Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014. The hotel also appeared on Travel + Leisure’s 2014 “It List” as one of the “Best New Hotels around the Globe.” Follow @ThompsonChicago on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates. For additional information or to make reservations, please visit www.thompsonchicago.com.

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