Jimmy Bannos Sr.
Jimmy Bannos, a third-generation restaurateur, worked at his parents’ diner when he was growing up between the age of 9 and 20. After receiving his formal culinary education at Washburne Trade School, Bannos became infatuated with Crescent City cooking in the early 1980s and worked with famous New Orleans chefs, such as Paul Prudhomme at K-Paul’s, Frank Brigtsen and Emeril Lagasse.
Bannos’ bustling New Orleans-style Heaven on Seven restaurants have been one of the most popular eateries in Chicago for 29 years. Serving a highly personalized interpretation of New Orleans and Southern cooking, Bannos has smartly reinvented his food and his restaurant over the years to keep his concept fresh and vibrant. Today, he marries Latin, South American, Asian and Western European methods with New Orleans techniques and ingredients.
A collector of both modern and antique cookbooks, Bannos entered the publishing world himself with The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It’s Mardi Gras All The Time!and Big Easy Cocktails, Jazzy Drinks and Savory Bites. They invite food lovers into his kitchen and share some of his favorite down-home recipes.
What separates Bannos from the rest is his ability to season aggressively without overpowering the palate. While he uses cayenne-spiked seasoning blends and red chili pepper sauces, he also incorporates milder, well-rounded seasoning agents. The result is a complex layering of flavors that is consistent with New Orleans cooking principles, while bringing the region’s food into the 21st century.
Jimmy makes regular appearances on The Today Show, highlighting some of his seasonal specialties, as well as demonstrating his versions of holiday classics and family favorites. He is a leading figure in the community, and has donated his time and efforts to such causes as Hurricane Katrina relief, Meals on Wheels and March of Dimes.