Chef Brian Millman grew up in Northbrook, a suburb just outside of Chicago, where his passion for the culinary industry developed during frequent visits to new restaurants with his foodie parents. Brian followed his calling to Colorado State University where he pursued a degree in Restaurant & Resort Management. Over the next four years, Brian spent his time experimenting with food—working in a variety of different restaurants and hosting dinner parties for his friends where he tested out newfound culinary skills and recipes. After graduation, Brian jumped into management and headed for the slopes of Switzerland to complete a summer program at the top-ranking Swiss hospitality school, Les Roches International School of Hotel Management. After honing his skills overseas, Brian moved back to his hometown and earned a degree in Culinary Art from Kendall College. After graduation, he landed an externship working at the world-renowned Everest Restaurant. Under acclaimed Chef Jean Joho’s guidance, Brian laid the foundation for his professional career as an executive chef.
Now as executive chef of The Kimpton Gray Hotel, Brian brings with him more than 20 years of culinary experience and a passion for the “eat local” movement. At Vol. 39, The Gray’s sophisticated second floor bar, Brian pulls inspiration from classic 1930s era canapés and hors d'oeuvres, imbued with a seasonal touch. While fifteen floors up at Boleo, a lively South American inspired rooftop restaurant and bar, Brian works alongside Boleo chef de cuisine, Cory Morris in creating shareable small plates showcasing the authentic flavors of Peru and nearby regions. When he’s not in the kitchen, Brian can be found gardening, traveling overseas with his wife and son, and rooting on the Blackhawks, Cubs and Bears.
Jess Lambert jumpstarted her career bartending at Blue Hound Kitchen in downtown Phoenix, apprenticing under acclaimed Bartenders and Mixologists, Tyson Buhler (Death + Company, United States Bartender's Guild Best Bartender Winner 2015) and Shel Bourdon (The Dead Rabbit, Last Slinger Standing Ultimate Shake Off Competition Winner). While in Phoenix, she crossed paths with bartender Mike Ryan (Sable Kitchen & Bar, Jean Banchet Award nominee for Best Mixologist, Cocktail Apprentice Program Leader of Tales of the Cocktail) who now serves as the Director of Bars for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. She credits Mike as the driving force behind her ascension into the craft cocktail realm, following his advice to secure a spot in the prestigious international Cocktail Apprentice Program of Tales of the Cocktail in 2014 before graduating to Grey Coat leader the following year.
Jess eventually made her big-city move to Chicago, where she landed at cocktail destination The Dawson. She ventured into more complex cocktails under the guidance of Clint Rogers (Graham Elliot, The Gage) before joining Sable Kitchen & Bar in early 2015. She was instrumental in contributing to Sable’s bar program that has garnered 12 Tales of the Cocktail nominations and numerous “Best Bar” accolades from publications including Esquire, USA Today and Food & Wine. Her personal honors include a StarChef’s Chicago Rising Star nomination and first runner up placement in the International Sherry Competition 2015. She has been recognized by Star Chefs as one of the Rising Stars of Chicago for her modern, and savory Tiki cocktails, and her inspired cocktail recipes have graced the pages of Vogue, Liquor.com, Food & Wine, Yahoo.com and Chilled magazine. Now in 2016, Jess makes the leap to Head Bartender of Boleo and Vol. 39, where she will take a culinary approach to the cocktail programs, aiming to enhance a familiar sensory experience within each unique creation.