Rohini Dey, founder and owner of Vermilion Restaurant in Chicago, was named 2022 MenuMasters Innovator of the Year for innovating in the culinary field as well as creating a national community of female operators during the pandemic. She will be honored at this year’s Nation’s Restaurant News MenuMasters Gala, sponsored by Ventura Foods, at Chicago’s Drake Hotel on May 21.
The Innovator Award identifies and recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution and impact in the restaurant industry through their commitment to raising the standard in menu and concept innovation.
An economist and former academic and management consultant, Dey, left, opened Vermilion, then called At Vermillion, in 2004, and expanded it to New York in 2008, although she closed that location a decade later.
Dey introduced his customers to his own style of Indian cuisine, bringing Latin influences and his distinctive flair. Vermilion’s current menu includes dishes such as tandoori skirt steak with garlic and spinach, greens in coconut milk with mustard seeds and artichoke pakoras, as well as cocktails such as tamarind margaritas, lychee caipirinhas and mango mojitos.
Vermilion has been recognized locally and nationally by Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Travel & Leisure, Town & Country, USA Today, Bon Appétit, Wine Enthusiast and others. Dey has been featured in numerous magazines as a top entrepreneur as well as for her style as an artist.
At the start of the pandemic, feeling isolated like so many people at the time, Dey founded Let’s talk about womenwhich brings together independent conservators to share concerns and best practices, collaborate and provide emotional support.
The network has now expanded to 13 cities.
She also created a culinary scholarship for women through the James Beard Foundation and founded her own non-profit organization, MSEdG – Educate Girls Globally, which receives all proceeds from her writing.
“I’m so glad we can honor Rohini Dey as a MenuMasters Innovator this year,” said Nation’s Restaurant News food and beverage editor Bret Thorn. “I’ve always admired and enjoyed her food, and with Let’s Talk Womxn she demonstrated the huge impact a group of like-minded people can have when working together.”
Past winners of the MenuMasters Innovator Award are chefs José Garces, Jonathon Sawyer, David Burke, Paul Kahan, David Barzelay Stephanie Izard and Sarah Grueneberg.
MenuMasters is an invitation-only event for foodservice executives. Follow #MenuMasters on social media to join in the excitement and get more info on the gala and how to attend informaconnect.com/menumasters/.