Co-Founder of Boka Restaurant Group   / @kevinboehmboka

After opening 17 successful restaurants over two decades, James Beard nominated restaurateur Kevin Boehm has become one of the nation's most successful owner/operators. Kevin, along with partner Rob Katz have not only built a successful restaurant group, but have established a restaurant culture built on great chefs, inspired hospitality, and amazing design.

Born in 1970, Boehm grew up in Springfield, Illinois and knew at a young age he was destined to be in the restaurant business. After dropping out of University of Illinois, he saved enough money as a server to open his first restaurant in 1992, the quaint Lazy Daze Café, in Seaside, Florida. Indigo Wine Bar (Blue Mountain Beach, Florida), Indigo Restaurant (Springfield, Illinois), and Six Degrees (Nashville, Tennessee) followed and Boehm got his education opening and selling restaurants all before the age of 30.

In 2002, Boehm partnered with Rob Katz and the two established Boka Restaurant Group. The pair would open 13 restaurants in less than 13 years: Boka (2003), Landmark (2005), Perennial (2008), Girl & the Goat (2010), GT Fish & Oyster (2011), Perennial Virant (2011), Balena (2012), Elaine's Coffee Call (2012), The J. Parker (2012), Little Goat Bread (2012), Little Goat Diner (2013), Momotaro (2014), and Swift and Sons (2015) and establish themselves as one of the great chef-driven groups in the country. They are also opening two restaurants in late 2015, early 2016: Duck Duck Goat and GT Prime.

The groups many accolades include "3 stars" for Boka, Perennial, Girl & the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster, Perennial Virant, Balena, and Momotaro from the Chicago Tribune. A Michelin Star 2011-2015 for Boka. "Food and Wine's Best New Chef's" for Boka's Giuseppe Tentori, Perennial Virant's Paul Virant, and Girl & the Goat's Stephanie Izard. Restaurant of the Year for Girl & the Goat in Chicago Tribune, Metromix, and Eater, and "National Chef of the Year" at the Eater Awards in New York. Restaurant of the Year for GT Fish in 2011 in the Chicago Tribune. A James Beard nomination for Girl and the Goat for Best New Restaurant in 2011, and a James Beard win for Stephanie Izard for Best Chef Great Lakes in 2013. Restaurant of the Year at the Jean Banchet Awards and Chef of the Year for Lee Wolen at the Banchet's and the Tribune in 2014. Restaurant of the Year for Momotaro in both Chicago Magazine and Chicago Social in 2015.

Boehm and Katz won Restaurateurs of the Year from Time Out Chicago in 2010, the Chicago Tribune in 2011, were named Empire Builders of the Year by Eater National in 2011, and were James Beard semi-finalists for Best Restaurateur in 2015. Boka Restaurant Group was named one of the RH25 in Restaurant Hospitality Magazine in 2013.

Boehm has been a featured speaker at the National Restaurant Show, MUFSO, keynote speaker at the Asheville Independent Restaurant Show, and will give the commencement address at a Culinary Institute of America Graduation in New York. He is an occasional columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times Splash, and was named "40 Under 40" in Crains in 2010. He co-produces the Gold Coast Film Festival, which was started in 2004, and sat on the board of Trustees for the Hope Institute for 7 years. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Easter Seals. Kevin lives in Chicago with his wife and 3 children.

Kevin speaks of the culinary landscape in Chicago (featured on
Crain's Chicago Business)