Why You Won’t Find This Popular Chef At His Restaurant On Father’s Day

Food & Drink

His father, Paul Prudhomme and the city of New Orleans, in that order, inspired Jimmy Bannos, chef and owner of Heaven on Seven in Chicago, to become the chef he is today. But it was his mother, father, and two grandmothers who helped shape his worldview as it relates to food. Turns out Bannos and Jimmy Bannos Jr., his son and owner/chef of another restaurant in Chicago, share more commonalities than one might expect from two chefs with very different types of restaurants.

Bannos opened Heaven on Seven almost four decades ago fresh out of cooking school and on the seventh floor of an office building in Chicago’s Loop. Even today, you need to know Heaven on Seven is there because it’s easy to miss it, although those in the know know this place is gold, especially if you love Cajun and Creole-style food for which the place is known.

While his kids were young, he would often prepare a lot of braised meat dish dishes and or pasta dishes during the winter and grill anything during the summer, from steak to fish to paella, a big hit with his family. And, of course, anything Greek and Italian, he says.

Bannos Jr., one of his two children and owner and chef of The Purple Pig located less than a mile from Heaven on Seven, loves preparing what seems to be the family’s signature dish since Bannos also loves it: neck bone gravy. Each prepares it slightly different though, to make it truly their own.

“My Sunday Gravy [is my signature dish,” says Bannos. “[It’s a] neck bone gravy, which is red gravy, short ribs, port shoulder, neck bones, sausage, meatballs, pork belly. We call it Ziti Sunday.”

Asked to share how his recipe differs from his son’s, he explains that it’s similar but he adds all the different meats. To prepare it at home, “just add short ribs, port shoulder, neck bones, sausage, meatballs, pork belly—all the meats!” Doesn’t this explanation sound just like how any family member explains how to prepare their signature dish? I feel like I’m listening to my mother as I’m trying to write down how to prepare something and she pushes me aside and just goes on with making her dish because she has no patience for things like writing down recipes exactly as they should be prepared. Who has time for that level of detail?

Family has been and remains a key piece of Bannos’ life.

“In my world, I always try to put family first and even instill that in the people who work for us—even though with such a demanding job, sometimes that can’t happen,” says Bannos.

In fact, he feels so strongly about family that it’s one of the reasons that Heaven on Seven isn’t open on Sundays. “I do what I can to carve out time with my family even now that they are grown and have their own families. Now that I have granddaughters, we have them over at least once a week and have family dinners with them – though they only really like pizza!”

Pizza for Father’s Day sounds perfect if it means getting to spend it with those you love, right?

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