Chef Ben Walanka is a Chicago native born and raised. After graduating from Kendall in 2002, Ben worked in such kitchens as Marche, La Francais, Holly’s American Bistro and Rhapsody Restaurant. In 2006 Ben was as Chef of the Club at the Symphony Center, a member’s only fine dining room in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra cooking for major donors of the CSO, while also holding the title of Sous Chef at Rhapsody Restaurant. Both establishments operated by well-known Blue Plate Catering, a Chicago based catering company, which continues to set the bar amongst its competitors. During Bens time there, he was selected amongst thousands to take part in Season 5 of Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen where Ben battled his way to a final four finish out of 16 and landed him an opportunity to continue his dream of cooking on TV through a Fox affiliated sports network based out of Chicago.
In September 2009, Ben co-hosted a live tailgate themed cooking show for The Big Ten Network called The Big Ten Cookout. Ben traveled to a different Big Ten College Campus each week where he would feature a different recipe to be executed on the grill, in an attempt to help tailgaters, and non-tailgaters alike, raise their “game”. Although young in age, Bens approach has been to integrate cooking instruction while maintaining that spontaneous entertainment value. “there is no reason why people can’t enjoy cooking, learn something in the process and be entertained!!
Ben has been seen on local television media channels, news publications, magazines and radio shows, yet his passion for food continues to push him towards his ambitions.. “When great food is paired with creative entertainment, you have a powerful and marketable tool.” Most recently Ben opened a new farm to table steakhouse in Miami Beach called 1500 Degrees alongside Hells Kitchen runner-up chef Paula DaSilva. His return to Chicago has found him as the new Executive Chef of Rosebud Steakhouse where he currently works.