ANDREW ZIMMERMAN • Chef Partner
Andrew Zimmerman is the Chef Partner at nationally acclaimed Sepia and Proxi. In his 20s, while following a life-long dream to become a musician, Zimmerman supported himself by working in restaurants in New York City. When he realized he enjoyed being in the kitchen more than the clubs, Zimmerman began to pursue a career as a professional cook. He worked as sous chef for three years under Renato Sommella, whom he cites as one of his strongest culinary mentors. He then enrolled in the prestigious French Culinary Institute in New York City, graduating first in his class in 2000. Zimmerman made the move to Chicago in 2003 to assume a chef position at the Park Hyatt Chicago. In 2008, he was introduced to Sepia Owner Emmanuel Nony, and the following year, he joined Sepia as the executive chef. In addition to culinary recognition from the James Beard Foundation and Michelin, the chef has been honored for his community involvement. Zimmerman is excited to grow his culinary vision with the opening of Proxi. At Proxi, Chef Zimmerman has a chance to experiment with new techniques and flavor profiles as the contemporary American restaurant pulls inspiration from global street food. When he’s not in the kitchens of Proxi or Sepia, he can be found traveling with his family — and finding culinary inspiration all along the way.
SARAH MISPAGEL • Pastry Chef
Growing up in San Diego, Sarah Mispagel’s initial culinary inspirations came from her uncle. Mispagel, in awe of his culinary talents and the happiness they brought him, realized she could make a living doing the same thing. As her own kitchen talents veered towards baking, she ventured to Orange County after high school to attend the Art Institute of California’s baking and pastry degree program. After some time in Portland, OR and Cincinnati, OH, Sarah set her sights on Chicago, joining mk The Restaurant as pastry sous chef. Building a strong reputation in the city, Mispagel joined Nightwood as pastry chef garnering recognition as a semifinalist for Eater’s “Young Guns 2014.” Sarah was a part of the opening team at Jason Vincent’s acclaimed Giant, and sprung at the opportunity to join the Proxi and Sepia team in 2017. At Proxi, her dessert program complements Chef Zimmerman’s globally inspired menu.
JENNIFER WAGONER • Wine Director
Inspired by art in many forms - from music, to creative writing, to wine pairings - Sommelier Jennifer Wagoner brings an innovative point of view to Sepia and Proxi as wine director. Wagoner’s 16-year hospitality career includes experience in Manhattan and Miami along with a CMS Level II degree. A native Midwesterner from Indiana, Wagoner recently returned to her roots to curate the eclectic, award-winning wine lists at Sepia and Proxi.
Wagoner’s love of wine ignited in NYC, where she worked at B.R. Guest’s Blue Water Grill while moonlighting as a part-time studio musician. She quickly developed an appreciation for collaborating with the kitchen to pair wines with food. Following her passion, Wagoner moved to Miami and joined Goldman Properties’ Wish in 2007 as managing sommelier, where she helped craft a wine list that received rave reviews. She then helped launched Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, earning a nod from the Miami New Times as the “Best New Bar” of 2010. In 2012, she left WKB to serve as Head Sommelier at the wildly popular Zuma restaurant in downtown Miami. Then, in 2015, Wagoner moved on to join the Fontainebleau Miami Beach team as Lead Sommelier at StripSteak by Michael Mina, where she oversaw a wine list of more than 1,000 selections.
Wagoner joined the Sepia and Proxi team in December 2017, bringing a fresh perspective to an already acclaimed wine program. Michelin-starred Sepia has been recognized by Wine Enthusiast as “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants” and named a James Beard Foundation finalist nomination in the Outstanding Wine Program category. The 600-bottle list features a wide variety of boutique winemakers and food-driven wines that pair with Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s inventive, modern American cuisine. Next door at younger sibling Proxi, the list features a rotating theme that changes seasonally with the menu. Like Chef Zimmerman’s globally-inspired dishes, the wines range in regions, flavors and styles. Both playful and serious, Wagoner’s wine knowledge allows guests to take their own, unique culinary journey at Proxi and Sepia.
JOSH RELKIN • Head Bartender
Head Bartender Josh Relkin’s hospitality career began not behind the bar but in the kitchen. Inspired by his brother who loved to cook, Josh took a job with him The Ryland Inn in New Jersey, and immediately fell in love with working on the line. He followed his passion to culinary school, graduating from Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI, with a degree in culinary arts. From there, Josh worked in a number of acclaimed restaurants on the East Coast, including Per Se (New York) and Restaurant Nicholas (New Jersey). After achieving another degree, this time in culinary nutrition, Josh moved to Chicago to work at Alinea as both a line cook an expediter, where he thrived in the fast-paced, intensely creative environment.
It was at Chicago’s storied cocktail bar, The Violet Hour, where Josh realized a new passion for craft cocktails. Josh began working at Sable, splitting his time behind the bar and at The Aviary and The Office, where he worked closely on the beverage program. From there, he moved on to The Sixth.
Josh was on his honeymoon in Spain when he received the call from the Proxi team that he had secured the job as head bartender at the yet-to-open global restaurant. It’s no coincidence that Proxi’s menu has a robust and creative Spanish-inspired gin and tonic menu. At Proxi, Josh blends his culinary background with his innovative mixology techniques for a cocktail list that’s truly unique. Utilizing the restaurant’s hearth, he roasts and cooks with ingredients that aren’t typically found in libations, highlighting bold flavors that match the Proxi’s ethnic food menu.
When he’s not working, Josh enjoys spending time with his wife and their cat and dog “kids,” Willett and Chartreuse.
EMMANUEL NONY • Managing Partner
Emmanuel Nony is the consummate hospitality professional. Raised in the French countryside by parents who were true bon vivants, they passed their love of good food and entertaining down to their son. After attending culinary school, Nony fixed his sights on the front of the house, transitioning to the service side from the kitchen — and hasn’t looked back. Nony played an integral role at the Hyatt Hotel Group for sixteen years, working at several of their properties around the world including Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Grand Hyatt Seoul, Hyatt Regency Fukuoka and Park Hyatt Tokyo. Returning to the States, his next opportunity within the company was to open the highly-anticipated Park Hyatt Chicago and its restaurant, NoMI. Having fallen in love with the Windy City, Nony decided to put down roots here and opened Sepia followed by Private Dining by Sepia. Nony is thrilled to continue to build upon his quarter city block with the opening of Proxi, where many of the flavors and techniques from his travels abroad are showcased.