LEFT The dining room at Next.
Having spent the last seven years at Next, under chef Achatz, I can say that today my style of cooking has been significantly altered. I’m definitely much more comfortable with experimenting with my cuisine, and veering away from the structures that once bound my creativity.” Chicago-born and bred, Jenner Tomaska started his cooking career at the young age of 14 at a local restaurant near to where he grew up. Realising that, for him, this was the only career path that he wanted to take, Tomaska completed his studies in culinary arts and food-service management at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island before heading off to the big, wide world of gastronomy. “I would have to say that initially, I was solely inspired by traditional French cookery. The foundation of my education was in French cuisine, and I then began my career at a predominantly French restaurant here in Chicago”
Jenner ventured to South Carolina to hone in his skills in the resort town of Hilton Head, but soon found his way back to his hometown in order to truly establish himself on Chicago’s booming fine dining scene. “It is and has been an exciting time for fine dining, specifically in Chicago where we’ve seen some fantastic additions to the restaurant landscape.” Upon his return to Chicago, he soon started working at the MK restaurant under the wings of chefs Michael Kornick and Erick Williams, which in turn led him to undertake a stage in the kitchens of award-winning restaurant Alinea. Even though Jenner was somewhat intimated by the atmosphere of the Michelin-starred restaurant, it did confirm that this was the direction in which he wanted to take his culinary creativity. “I love to cook – even more so I love to cook for people. I can’t think of anything that brings me more joy than watching a guest or loved one enjoy a meal I’ve made.” »