A Chicago native, Randy Waidner knew he wanted to make a career in the culinary arts even before he entered the ninth grade.
In high school, Waidner started taking cooking classes, where he and his instructors affirmed his impressive creative talents, combined with a heartfelt passion for food. Waidner further demonstrated this passion by seeking out—and securing—an after-school/weekend job with a well-known gourmet grocery store, which specialized in imported foods. At his young age, Waidner was instrumental in preparing packaged, ready-to-go culinary delights for the store’s customers, as well as of the Chicago area’s finest hotels and restaurants. Waidner received classical training at the Palm Beach Restaurant, which at the time, was one Chicago’s finest French restaurants.
Waidner then attended the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., where in 1990, he graduated as summa cum laude. Through college, Waidner worked as the Sous chef at the renowned Inn at Castle Hill in Newport, R.I.
In 1991, after gaining experience in the East Coast, Waidner moved back to Illinois and joined the culinary team at the Weber® Grill Restaurant in Wheeling, IL (a suburb of Chicago). Waidner grew into the position of Executive Chef and went on to help oversee the kitchen design for, and opening of, the second Weber® Grill Restaurant, located in Lombard, IL. Waidner tackled the same job to help open Weber’s downtown Chicago flagship restaurant which, in June 2002, was hailed as one of the most successful restaurants in the city.
Chef Waidner’s dedication to quality and consistency mixed with his passion for grilling is shown through the success of the Weber® Grill Restaurant. The philosophy of each recipe Waidner creates for Weber® Grill Restaurant states that “the food must be sophisticated enough to be fun and flavorful, but still be approachable.” All of Waidner’s recipes are indeed approachable and can be re-created in one’s own Weber Kettle or gas grill.
From Weber Grill, Waidner took the position as Corporate Chef for a Chicago Landmark Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse. Gibsons restaurant Group operates 7 restaurants where Waidner oversees 6 of the 7 restaurants for the group, including; Gibsons; Rush Street and Rosemont, Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House; Rush Street and Naperville, LuxBar, and RL Restaurant (Ralph Lauren). Gibsons Dedication to Quality and unsurpassed dedication to service has made these restaurants Chicago’s finest.
Chef Waidner’s culinary credits also include developing a line of Weber® retail signature sauces and spice rubs. In addition, Waidner contributed recipes for the best-selling Weber®’s Big Book of Grilling™, and the more recently published Real Grilling™, and is featured in the “Great Chefs® Grill Out® Chicago” videotape. Waidner returned to his alma mater in 2000 to star in the National Public Television series, Cooking Secrets of Johnson & Wales. Waidner is experienced in judging culinary competitions, and is a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judge.
Chef Waidner is an active member in the ACF (American Culinary Federation), in the “Windy City Professional Culinarians” chapter. He holds the certification level of Certified Executive Chef (C.E.C.). In 2005 Chef Waidner was named ACF Chapter Chef of the Year. Waidner is also an approved Certification Judge and Co Chairs Certification with his Chapter.