In Chicago’s competitive dining scene, it takes more than good food to be the name on both foodies’ and fellow restaurateurs’ lips. It takes a willingness to move quickly, to experiment and to switch it up when things don't work. That’s what Sodikoff has done. Now people watch his every move to see what he’s up to.

Sodikoff’s empire started in 2010 with Gilt Bar, a craft-cocktail bar, but has since been in perpetual development mode. Instead of sticking to one area or one type of food, his projects run the spectrum, from taking over the iconic California Clipper lounge in Chicago’s up-and-down Humboldt Park neighborhood to partnering with retailer Restoration Hardware to put a cafe and wine bar inside its high-end store in the city’s glitzy Gold Coast—a first for RH. “I open restaurants when there’s something I want to experience that doesn’t already exist nearby,” Sodikoff explains.

That’s not to say he shies away from traditional. His upscale diner, Au Cheval, slings a burger that Bon Appétit declared the best in America and has customers waiting hours to indulge.

It makes sense that Sodikoff chose Chicago as the location of his culinary playground. It’s where he got some  key training, serving as a creative development officer under another highly regarded local multiconcept operator, the legendary Richard Melman of Lettuce Entertain You.

“Chicago is one of the best places for aspiring restaurateurs,” Sodikoff says. “There is great real estate, incredible culinary talent, professional restaurant operators and a community of interested, curious diners.”