Just who is Chef Erik Freeberg?
Erik Freeberg originally planned on being the next great general manager. However, while studying restaurant management at Purdue University, it was one class requiring hands-on restaurant experience where he opted to be in the kitchen that altered his plan and laid the groundwork for his current status as a rising culinary star. After graduating from Purdue in 2005, Freeberg applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America's two year associates program. His first mentor was Dan Turgeon who not only taught the basics but also instilled the foundation that Freeberg continues to build upon today.
At the end of his program in 2008 while waiting tables at the Culinary Institute’s Escoffier room, he had a chance encounter with a guest who worked at Levy Restaurants that passed along his resume to Missy Robbins, then executive chef of Spiaggia. Only a few days later, Freeberg was invited to stage at Spiaggia, upon arrival to the restaurant and hours into his stage, he was hired on the spot to work as garde manger in the dining room. Freeberg worked his way up the line and after a year, Spiaggia Chef/partner Tony Mantuano invited him to assist at his WINE BAR FOOD pop-up at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship. While there, Freeberg was offered a role as sous chef which then led to being named purchasing manager in 2010.
After working under Executive Chef Sarah Grueneberg for three years, he gained the tools needed to become part of the opening team as chef di cucina at Tony Mantuano’s latest restaurant Bar Toma, an Italian neighborhood bar and pizzeria in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Freeberg was equally excited by the Bar Toma concept as he was able to use his knowledge from working at a local pizzeria during his summer breaks from college.
Bar Toma opened in November 2011 and under Freeberg the restaurant has received a three-star review from The Chicago Tribune, named one of the “Top 20 Best New Restaurants in 2012” by Chicago magazine and one of the country’s “Best New Pizza Places by Food & Wine magazine, among other accolades.
Chef Erik Freeberg will call Ravinia home on July 26 & 27, when he brings his unique flare to Italian cuisine from Bar Toma to you.