During his 20s, while following a life-long dream to become a musician, Zimmerman supported himself by working in restaurants. When he realized he enjoyed being in the kitchen more than the clubs, Zimmerman began to pursue a career as a professional cook.
For three years Andrew worked under Italian chef 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. He graduated the first in his class in 2000. Zimmerman made the move to Chicago in 2003 to assume a position at NoMi in the Park Hyatt Chicago.
In 2004, Andrew met restaurateur Terry Alexander. Impressed with Andrew’s capabilities, Terry hired him to be chef at MOD. The pair later reconcepted the space into Del Toro, a modern Spanish tapas restaurant . In 2007, Zimmerman returned to the Park Hyatt as chef de cuisine at the fine dining restaurant, NoMI. After being introduced to owner Emmanuel Nony in 2009 Zimmerman joined Sepia as the executive chef.
Andrew has earned many culinary recognitions over the years. He is a 5 time finalist for the James Beard Awards. Earned a Michelin star for Sepia since the prestigious restaurant reviews started to cover Chicago. (12 years and counting!) StarChefs.com chose him as a 2011 Rising Star Chef. Chicago’s Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence named Sepia “Restaurant of the Year” in 2013 & Andrew took home the prestigious “Chef of the Year” in 2018.
A personal highlight for Zimmerman was successfully defeating Iron Chef Marc Forgione on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” for Battle Cream Cheese in September 2012. Andrew has also been honored in Chicago for his community involvement.
“I’m cooking food that speaks to me, and I’m so honored that it’s resonating with others, too,” he says. “My cooking style is all about the balance of textures, global flavors, and seasonality.”
In 2017 Mr. Nony and Chef Zimmerman opened Proxi where Andrew enjoys the culinary freedom to utilize new techniques and create dishes with international flavor profiles. This contemporary American restaurant pulls inspiration from around the globe. When he’s not in the kitchens of Proxi or Sepia, he is with his family — and finding culinary inspiration all along the way.