The Signature Room at the 95th
Executive Chef Brandon K. Wolff says he was bitten by the cooking bug rather late in life. While originally pursuing an education to pursue sportscasting, he was decidedly lured into the culinary world when a summer job as a server ignited his passion for food and the restaurant business. Fortunately for The Signature Room at the 95th, he has honed his culinary craft for over 20 years, earning accolades and creating sought-after cuisine that will add a fresh flair to the fine dining restaurant overlooking Lake Michigan and the Magnificent Mile. As executive chef, he leads 35 cooks, four sous chefs, a pastry team of eight and several apprentices from the area’s top culinary colleges as they create memorable dining experiences for guests from across the nation and globe.
Wolff credits his first mentor, Chef David J. Cross, with guiding his early career development and inspiring him during the Distinguished Chef Series at Oklahoma State University where both men earned their degrees. Today, he describes his cooking style as light and unpretentious, sourcing top ingredients from local growers, using minimal ingredients in each dish, and focusing on seasonality and flavors that work together.
Wolff’s new menus for The Signature Room will be infused with an upscale simplicity and fresh approach. Guests can expect to sample several fresh pastas daily considering his mastery of Italian cuisine and the recent installation of a new pasta-making machine in the kitchens of the iconic Chicago dining destination.
Most recently the executive sous chef for One SixtyBlue in Chicago, Wolff began his professional career as the chef de cuisine at The Doubletree Hotel’s Warren Duck Club and chef di cucina at The Adam’s Mark Hotel’s Bravo Ristorante. In 1998, he made his first move to the Windy City to take on the executive sous chef role at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise’s Maggiano’s Little Italy division. In 2000, when The Bartolotta Restaurant Group took over management of Dream Dance at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, they chose Wolff to run the kitchen at the $120 million dollar casino project. There, he helped the restaurant earn four stars from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Restaurant of the Year from Milwaukee Magazine.
Following his success at Dream Dance, the Bartolotta Restaurant Group named Wolff executive chef of Bacchus, a contemporary American fine dining restaurant in Milwaukee, where he again earned a four-star rating by critics and was invited twice to cook at the James Beard House in New York. Chef Wolff returned to Chicago in 2006 to work for renowned restaurants including positions as chef de cuisine at Osteria Via Stato, chef de cuisine at La Madia.
Ironically, despite spending years perfecting Italian recipes, he admits never having traveled to that country. If the opportunity arises, he’ll head straight to Naples for Neopolitan pizza before seeking the Mediterranean beaches and cuisine of Southern Italy.
Originally from Ft. Worth, Texas, Wolff earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management at Oklahoma State University. When Wolff is not behind the grand stovetops at The Signature Room, you’ll find him perusing a local farmer’s market near his Wicker Park home in Chicago or picking up a racket for a game of tennis.