Mario Santiago began his acquisition to excellence in the culinary perfection back in the late seventies working in his family businesses at the El Coco Loco Supper Club and the Latin Village Night Club. After leaving the family business to prep and cook at some of Chicago’s local restaurants like the Gare St. Lazare, Bugatti's, and the Chicago Athletic Association. He took a break from his cooking to study wine in Sonoma, California in the late eighties.
Upon his return to Chicago he worked the front of the house for organizations like Levy at Arlington International Race Course in the Turf Club, Santiago and Ramos Production Company, Entertaining Company and Caliahn Catering as Captain of the Graham Room at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. His true passion for food and wine lead him back into the kitchen cooking and catering privately for some Chicago’s prominent families and corporations.
Today he finds himself delighting the taste buds of all who come to May St.Cafe or wisely choose to have his dishes at their events. with numerous mentions in the city’s prominent magazines and television shows (Chicago Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out Chicago, Chicago Reader, WBBM News Radio, CBS Channel 2 Table for Two, ABC Channel 7 The Hungry Hound, and WTTW Channel 11 Chicago Tonight and Check Please! Santiago has made his cooking into an art. His advice to others, “pay attention and learn a recipe so you can master it. Then if you are feeling confident, experiment on your own and make it fun, make it your own."