“mk is a smart, contemporary space that beautifully showcases his (Kornick’s) playful and confident New American cooking.” Jerry Shriver, USA Today
“Windy City diners are being blown away by mk, a showcase for Michael Kornick.” Food & Wine
“Michael Kornick has matured into one of Chicago’s true culinary masters.” Esquire
“Despite the cool décor, the food at mk is the main attraction.” Conde Nast Traveler
Chef Michael Kornick, founder and owner of mk The Restaurant, is a nationally recognized leader in the culinary arts. Chef Kornick works with the freshest seasonal ingredients and stays true to classical cooking techniques. It is his belief that ingredients should speak for themselves. Although known primarily for his accomplishments as a chef, Michael has developed into one of the country’s leading restaurateurs. He is highly sought after as an authority on restaurant management and customer service and is known as a generous mentor to those who have worked under him past and present.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Michael is very active in the community. He has raised awareness and money annually for Share our Strength, the Chicago Food Depository, Healthy Schools Campaign, Steppenwolf Theater, Perspectives Charter School, Sweet Water Foundation and many other worthy organizations. For the past eight years Chef Kornick has served as Chef Chair for Toque: An Evening With Chicago’s Culinary Masters. The event raises money for Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. and funds their Camp One Step at a Time, a camp for children with cancer.
Chef Kornick lives in Evanston Illlinois with his wife and business partner Lisa and their children.
Lisa Kornick, Owner
Lisa Koch Kornick opened mk in 1998 with her husband, Chef Michael Kornick, and handles day-to-day operations at the restaurant. She loves pairing fresh, seasonal ingredients in a comfortable and welcoming setting. Whether you’re having a simple cocktail and bite at the bar before a show or sitting down for a romantic anniversary dinner, Lisa wants you to feel at home in the dining room of mk.
Lisa is an extremely active member of her community and sits on the boards of both Perspectives Charter School and the Sweet Water Foundation. Her dream is to open a non-profit restaurant on Chicago’s south side to train students in the culinary arts. She is a mother of three teenagers.
Say hi when you see her manning the host stand on Saturday nights.
Erick Williams, Executive Chef
Erick Williams joined the opening team at mk in 1998 and took over leadership of the kitchen in the fall of 2008. Under his direction, the menu at mk has retained its farm-to-plate seasonal approach and has continued to receive accolades from local and national press. He is inspired every week at the farmer’s markets in Chicago and has formed lasting relationships with mk’s farming partners, among them the crews at Werp Farms, Nichols Farm and Spence Farms. Erick spends much of his time teaching and training at-risk youth and is a mentor to many; he believes in the value of education through cooking and strives to be an example for those in his community. Erick has worked with youth from Disney II Magnet School, Perspectives Charter School, adults from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and fundraises for Sweet Water Foundation which helps bring urban gardening and aquaponics to Chicago and Milwaukee area schools. Erick sums up his feelings for cooking succinctly: “It was once said to me by my father that the search for equality is found through common ground and sharing a meal is a universal expression of respect and dignity.”
Lisa Bonjour joins the mk culinary team with years of experience garnered in premiere restaurants across the country. Previously, Lisa assisted the pastry teams at Quince in Evanston, Epic and BOKA in Chicago, and at Back Bay Grill in Portland, Maine. Lisa has also spent time in the mk kitchen before, and, most recently, at Trenchermen where she developed the plated desserts for the dinner and brunch menus and maintained the restaurant’s extensive fresh bread program.
Lisa’s dessert creations focus on simple and balanced flavors to delight mk diners. Growing up, Lisa would frequently visit her grandparents in Michigan and draws on the experience of preparing meals with fresh fruits and vegetables from their extensive garden to develop an approach to dish creation that celebrates the best produce and flavors of the season. When not in the mk kitchen, Lisa enjoys exploring Chicago with friends.
Kate Bock, Beverage Manager
Originally from Philadelphia, Kate completed culinary school in California and relocated to Chicago after a stint cooking in the kitchens of Las Vegas. Her knowledge of both back and front of the house is a huge asset for the restaurant and the cocktail program under her direction includes many housemade and original elements. Kate is an urban gardener and uses many of the herbs grown in her Ukrainian Village front yard in her seasonal libations. Her favorite drink these days is On Top of Old Smoky: Highwest Double Rye whiskey, chipotle peppers and Fee Brothers orange bitters.
Kate Gaddi, Event Coordinator
Kate has served in the role of event coordinator at mk since its opening in 1998. She receives rave reviews from her clients and is known for her warm demeanor. In addition to this, she brings a keen eye for perfection, highly developed organization skills and a love for food and wine to the table. Kate started her career as an accountant but has always felt she found her true calling when she was hired at mk.
Kate is an avid biker which is in tune with her high energy level. Give her a shout-out if you see her zipping along the lake or on Franklin Street on her way to an event. Her all-time favorite menu item is mk’s classic tuna tartare.
Megan Jeyifo, Office Manager
Megan has been on the mk team since 2008 and is a key behind the scenes component to our team that keeps it running smoothly and efficiently. Her dedication to mk and knowledge of the industry make her invaluable to guests as well. If you need special reservations or a customized celebratory meal to impress that certain someone, Megan is your girl.
Casey Carpenter, Sous Chef
Casey started as a line cook at mk in 2007. “I moved to Chicago for the weather,” says the Florida born chef. Casey brought years of experience from smaller kitchens, but mk was his first foray into fine dining and he was promoted to sous chef in a few short years. He enjoys butchering fish and meat and is a lover of all things citrus.
Rich Phelps, Sous Chef
A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rich attended San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy and has been in the mk kitchen since 2011. His start in fine dining was with Michael Mina’s flagship restaurant in San Francisco and continued at Boulevard with Chef Nancy Oaks. He moved to Chicago in 2005 after missing the Midwest and worked in the kitchens of Crofton on Wells, Naha and Branch 27 before arriving at mk. Rich loves to incorporate Asian and Latin techniques and flavors while using local ingredients into his cuisine. He is a huge University of Michigan fan and cheers them on at every opportunity.
Paul Finkelmeyer, Sommelier
Paul’s passion for cooking and hospitality formed at a young age while watching his great-grandmother prepare meals for his family. He was mesmerized by the transformation of raw ingredients into delicious dishes along with the enjoyment they brought to everyone. His appreciation for food and wine was solidified while attending the Culinary Institute of America in 1997 and perpetuated through the various back of the house and front of the house positions he has held over the past 15 years. He was recently a member of the front of the house team at Alinea and previously served as manager at the Elysian Hotel (now Waldorf Astoria Chicago) and the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago. His first introduction to fine dinning service was being part of the service teams at TRU, Spiaggia, and Michael Foley’s printers row.
Paul’s approach to the mk wine program is to focus on quality and small independent producers when possible. Meeting guests’ expectations is a must, but exceeding them even more so.
After a Decade of Service experience in Chicago as a waiter, bartender and banquet captain, Robert Kunke joined the mk team back in 2000 and worked with Kate Gaddi managing private events until 2004. After years managing for hotels and gaining valuable wine training in Sonoma, Robert has finally returned home to join the management team here at mk. His passions for golf and Chicago Blues music are surpassed only by his passion for food and wine.