Travelle at The Langham announces the appointment of Chef de Cuisine Qi Ai. Promoted from sous chef, Ai has been a part of the Travelle at The Langham team since July 2019. The restaurant will launch seasonally inspired breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus for spring in the coming months.
“We are thrilled to promote Qi to this new role, where she continues to establish Travelle as a dining destination inspiring extraordinary guest experiences,” says Damion Henry, executive chef at The Langham, Chicago. “Travelle has historically promoted from within our very talented, diverse, and close-knit team. I am looking forward to working more with Qi, as I know she will continue to surprise and delight our guests.”
With multiple years of experience in the hospitality industry, Ai oversees the restaurant’s daily operations and menu development, manages the culinary team, leads the hiring process, conducts training, directs menu development, and maintains quality control. Born and raised in Beijing, Qi acquired a B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature at Peking University. After graduation, she moved to Chicago to pursue her culinary passion and earned her A.A.S. in Culinary Arts at Kendall College. Before joining the Travelle at The Langham team, Ai spent time in the kitchens of the highly regarded Chicago restaurants Acadia, Sixteen, and Boka. In 2015, she was a National Finalist of San Pellegrino’s “Almost Famous Chef” Competition.
“I started my career working for some of Chicago’s highly acclaimed chefs,” she says. “I have witnessed the kitchen discipline, the dedication to the craft, the persistency. When I create a new dish, I try to look at the timeless, classical dishes and flavor pairings, then work with seasonality and gorgeous presentation while showcasing intriguing flavors and unique textures.”
Classically trained in French cuisine, Ai mastered many cuisines, drawing inspiration from her memories of cooking back in Beijing. Her love of food blossomed at an early age as she helped her grandmother prepare meals in her kitchen. Ai’s parents were also skilled at cooking, and she often helped create and modify an array of different recipes as a child.
“Hospitality for me is creating unforgettable memories,” Ai says. “I want to take my guests on a journey of the world with me to experience tastes from every culture made with local and seasonal ingredients. I strive to create lasting memories and flavors that will keep bringing our guests back to dine with us.”
Inspired by local farmers’ markets, Ai looks forward to strengthening her connections with farmers and purveyors in the Chicago area and the overarching Midwest community. Along with her passion for using local ingredients, she enjoys using distinctive flavors, unique textures, dazzling presentation, and a combination of classic with contemporary cooking methods to create extraordinary experiences guests remember for years to come.