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食•客 | Donnie Madia 打造属于他的芝加哥美食王国


        Let Donnie Madia guide you through a one-off experience of food, style and hospitality.



TAM: Why were you inspired to become a Restaurateur?

Donnie: Back when I started I really didn’t consider using the word “restauranteur,” because myself and my business partners were focused on working hard to create a great restaurant, Blackbird.  

TAM: How “one off” is One Off Hospitality Group?

Donnie: One Off; something done, made or happening only once, not as part of a regular sequence. Unique. Each project its own life, its own effort, its own creative spark. We are an incubator, a collective-food people, design people, restaurant people- working together with passion since 1997.

TAM: Can you give us an example on your motto: Lead by example – never ask others to perform a task you wouldn’t carry out yourself?

Donnie: Whether it’s picking up garbage, sweeping the curb or hailing a cab for a guest, I strive to do the less glamorous jobs that nobody likes to do because I believe our staff will follow by example because they want to take pride and ownership.

TAM: It all started with Blackbird, tell us about this great venture and your road to success?

Donnie: I can encapsulate it as four men, coming together with a very similar idea of success: one managing the bar, one managing the floor, one managing the front door and one managing the kitchen. Combining their efforts towards excellence.


TAM: We all know restaurant business is hard, restaurant business in Chicago is even harder.  As a native Chicagoan, how do you differentiate your establishments to all the others? Do you always have a touch of unique Chicagoans in all of our establishments?

Donnie: Not to give our secret weapon away, but we truly believe that a restaurant isn’t solely responsible for great food and great service, it’s how the guest is treated and how noble the hospitality is. We feel this is the Midwestern approach to be hardworking and hospitable.

TAM: What’s the difference between a good restaurant and a Madia’s restaurant?

Donnie: Good restaurants have good food and good service. A One Off Hospitality restaurant has good food, good service and incredible hospitality.

TAM: How do you master the art of collaboration to execute your instincts for style, atmosphere and hospitality?

Donnie: I’ve always had a flavor for great design. I’m a protege of our architect Thomas Schlesser and designer Jason Pickleman. Thanks to my good friends Sue and Al Ravitz, they’ve taught me more than a fair amount about art.

TAM: How important is your collaborations with elites from different industries? (Chefs, Architects, Interior Designers, Mixology masters)?

Donnie: Amongst all my business partners, we are an incubator for ideas. We tend to pollinate our different background, influences and our travels to help us to create ideas.



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TAM: How do you define yourself? Is suite and converse a true representation of your personality? Casually formal or formally casual?  

Donnie: Humble, always humble and noble.

TAM: As a Chicagoan, which dish do you think can represent Chicago the best?

Donnie: It doesn’t really correlate with our group of restaurants, but for some reason Chicagoans are goo-goo for steak and potatoes. I prefer a Jimmy’s polish sausage with mustard, relish, onions and sport peppers.

TAM: How is branding different for each name under One Off Hospitality Group?

Donnie: The branding starts with collaboration between my business partners and graphic designer Jason Pickeleman. We spend many many hours agreeing and disagreeing, so we are always checking each other. I will admit that there is a small amount of healthy competition to name each property.

TAM: We admire your dedication and commitment in charity, how does charity work reflect on your style of restaurant and hospitality?

Donnie: We picked four important charitable organizations that we immerse ourselves in. We won’t let ourselves compromise the integrity of the charity or our participation to make an impact in fundraising and volunteering.

TAM: How do you balance between business and personal lives?

Donnie: That’s a hard one, because I love both. I love my family which has grounded me to be more of a family man, father and leader, but I love my job equally and feel extremely happy when I’m making guests and staff happy.

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        在芝加哥这个充满活力的城市,来自世界各地的食物已经变成了一种独特的印记。在这里,餐厅想要受到挑剔食客们的追捧绝不是一件容易的事。而有这样一个人,他在芝加哥同时经营着8家各具特色的餐厅和酒吧,他对于美食、对于设计都有着自己独到的见解和独特的品味,把每一家店的每一个细节都做到了极致,这个人就是Donnie Madia。

        作为一个餐饮家,Donnie Madia把他在美食和设计方面的才华发挥得淋漓尽致,一步步地改写着芝加哥美食届的版图,建立起了属于他的“美食王国”:优雅又富有想象力的Blackbird、热情的地中海风情餐厅Avec、充满个性的手工鸡尾酒吧The Violet Hour、重新诠释着19世纪欧洲啤酒馆文化的The Publican、热情洋溢的墨西哥街头餐厅Big Star、小巧却充满巧思的社区餐厅Publican Quality Meats、时尚又有格调的意大利餐厅Nico Osteria、弥漫着芝加哥灵魂音乐和蓝调音乐的墨西哥餐厅Dove’s Luncheonette。所有这些餐厅,都凝聚着Donnie的心血。

        2015年,这位赫赫有名的餐饮家Donnie Madia在家门口斩获了具有“美食届奥斯卡”之称的James Beard Awards杰出餐饮家大奖。他的酒吧Violet Hour同时被评为了最佳酒吧。在此之前,他的餐厅Blackbird、Avec和The Publican也都先后获得过James Beard Awards最佳餐厅设计大奖。然而,在鲜花和掌声并没有让Donnie满足,而是始终保持着他谦逊的态度和精益求精的精神。



      在设计餐厅时,Donnie将他极简主义的设计理念发挥得淋漓尽致。当你走进Donnie位于Randolph Street上的两家餐厅Blackbird和Avec时,你会发现,这里的墙上没有任何画作,整个空间都被平行的长方形所占据,比起餐厅更像是进入了一家艺术博物馆。而每一次用餐体验都像是一次探险,你需要和顾客互动起来,用你热情周到的款待来打动处于陌生环境中的顾客,带领他们去发现、去体会每家餐厅的个性。这也是为什么Donnie在他的所有餐厅和酒吧中,都设置了开放式的厨房。从顾客的角度来看,开放式的厨房让他们能窥探到厨房发生的所有事,他们会和厨房里的人有互动,他们会想“看,那个人正在为我做菜”。



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      在Donnie Madia成功的路上,有另一个人不得不提,那就是芝加哥鼎鼎有名的大厨——Paul Kahan。早在1997年,两人就一起合作打造了他们的第一家餐厅Blackbird。那时,芝加哥人印象中的高端餐饮几乎就和高级牛排馆划上了等号。于是,Donnie和Paul尝试着挑战这种守旧的高端餐饮文化,“我希望这是一家时尚、随性,但又不失精致的餐厅,用最好的食物、美酒和服务让顾客感受到我们的用心”主厨Paul说道。这家餐厅一开业就取得了巨大成功,不仅如此,还为芝加哥的高端餐饮注入了活力,引领起了一股风潮。

      当我们谈到他为何会如此成功,Donnie谦虚地把这种成功归结于他的团队。这个在各个场合时常被Donnie提起的团队可以说是人才济济。除了Paul Kahan,建筑师 Thomas Schlesser、平面设计师Jason Pickleman、公关经理Jenna Liberman都是各个领域中的佼佼者。而Donnie则用他的经验、智慧、人脉,把这些大厨、设计师、团队管理者牢牢地集结在了自己身边。作为团队领导者,Donnie有着自己的领导哲学——“榜样是最好的领导力”,他用自己的一言一行影响着周围的人。有时,Donnie甚至会亲自在餐厅为顾客叫出租车,在他看来,“己所不欲,勿施于人”,当他做着这些其他人不愿意做的事情时,自然会让他的员工受到潜移默化的影响,让他们在工作时带着一种自豪和归属感。

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      作为一个生在芝加哥、长在芝加哥的地道Chicagoan,当我们问到最能代表芝加哥的一道菜时,Donnie并没有提到他自己的餐厅,而是向我们推荐了Jimmy的波兰香肠。他认为,这种配着黄芥末、relish、洋葱和sport pepper的香肠,才是他最爱的“芝加哥味道”。

      除此之外,在慈善事业方面,Donnie也是不遗余力。受到母亲Clara价值观的影响,他把这种对社会的回馈看作是自己分内的事情,他时常活跃在Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation、Pilot Light等好几个慈善组织,在这些组织中默默无闻地做着志愿工作,并为他们募集资金。

      对商业有着敏锐的洞察力、对视觉设计有着独特的品味、对细节有着近乎严苛的追求、对周围的一切有着无尽的想象力,当这些特质汇集在同一个人身上时,他必然是有魅力并且成功的。正是Donnie Madia这样独特的人格魅力,让他周围聚集了一群和他一样有梦想、有热情、有才华的团队,也就是这样才有了One Off Hospitality Group旗下这些风格迥异却各有千秋的餐厅和酒吧。

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