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Joe Frillman

Joe Frillman


A native of Prairie View, Illinois, Frillman found his love for food at a young age in a homemade grilled cheese and tomato sandwich prepared by his father. He started his college education at Northern Michigan University only to realize he should pursue that passion for food he once noticed. With that, Frillman picked up and moved back to Chicago to attend the Illinois Institute of Art, earning a degree in Culinary Arts. Post graduation, he began his career at Osteria di Tramponto in Wheeling, IL where he met Chef Chris Pandel who appreciated his talent and asked him to help open The Bristol in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago.

While he loved his time with Pandel, Frillman took on a position with Chef Paul Virant to open Perennial Virant. After a great run, Frillman returned to his original mentor, Chef Pandel at his second restaurant, Balena, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Frillman quickly became the Sous Chef and was most recently promoted to Chef de Cuisine. In 2011, Joe was named one of Timeout Chicago’s “20 Chefs to Watch.” In 2012, he was recognized as one of Zagat’s “30 under 30.”

Frillman thrives on the positive work culture at Balena and he believes you should love what you do and have fun doing it.In his spare time, he volunteers with the Spence Farm Foundation, which educates youths and farmers about responsible farming, and sustainability.

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