Anyone who has ever dined in a restaurant helmed by Michael Sheerin quickly discovers the award-winning chef has a distinctive style that blends the experimental with approachability. Sheerin brings to Embeya a flexible take on progressive Asian cuisine, drawing on inspirations from around the diverse continent and presenting dishes in an unexpected and nontraditional way. Coupled with the restaurant’s warm, sultry atmosphere, Sheerin’s menu offers a dining experience that makes a lasting impact. “Our environment shows that we are having a good time in kitchen, so guests can have a great time in the dining room,” says Sheerin, who assumed the executive chef role at the Chicago restaurant in April 2015. “I want them to remember what they had at Embeya, creating that ‘craveable’ experience—anything and everything that might come from food in the Asian world, we’re drawing on.”
The task of harnessing Asian foodways with a touch of innovation keeps Sheerin pleasantly busy. He compares developing new dishes to a series of thoughts, some complete and some that need to be uncomplicated. “In terms of food philosophy, I go for clean, clear, technique-driven, and focused,” he explains. “I like to remove any unnecessary ingredients or change a technique, and that way, a lot of flavor really comes through.”
The Chicago native has loved the back of the house atmosphere from the time he was a teen, working for Chef Jean Joho after high school let out. Upon graduating with a culinary degree from Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, MI, Sheerin moved to New York to spend time in the kitchens of Lutèce, Atlas, and Jean-Georges. He also dedicated nearly four years to working as sous chef under acclaimed Chef Wylie Dufresne at WD-50.
Once he returned home to Chicago, Sheerin became the first-ever chef de cuisine under James Beard award-winning Chef Paul Kahan at Michelin-rated Blackbird. Sheerin was recognized as a 2008 StarChefs.com Rising Star Chef and one of 10 "Best New Chefs" in the country by Food & Wine in 2010. He partnered with his brother, Chef Patrick Sheerin, and Heisler Hospitality in July 2012 to open Trencherman, serving modern American cuisine in the Wicker Park neighborhood and earning “Best New Restaurant” acclaim from Bon Appetit, Chicago magazine, and more. In late 2013, Sheerin collaborated with industry veteran Dan Rosenthal to open Cicchetti, a Venetian-inspired small-plate concept in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. During his time as executive chef at Cicchetti, Sheerin explored clean, ingredient-focused interpretations of classic Italian cuisine alongside his co-sous chefs, Phil Rubino and acclaimed pastry chef Sarah Jordan.
Outside of work, the South Loop resident can be found exploring Chinatown’s best hidden gems and spending downtime reading. Sheerin is currently into rediscovering the works of Paulo Coelho.