Leigh Omilinsky knew she wanted to be a chef at the age of 12. At first, she thought she'd become a jazz pianist; at the same time, she grew up cooking for her family, even though they didn't eat a lot of sweets. At 15, she attended culinary camp and realized that was where she felt most at home was in the kitchen. So she attended culinary school in Denver, interned in Hawaii, then, after graduation, moved back to Chicago, because she was so inspired by what was happening at restaurants like Alinea. She worked with Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand at Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, then at Tru. From there, it was stints at L-2-0 under Laurent Gras, then to the Hotel Sofitel, and most recently, to Nico Osteria in Chicago's Gold Coast as Pastry Chef. Leigh accepted our ingredient challenge this week, using persimmons as the main ingredient and attempt to make an easy weeknight meal in 15 minutes or less.
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