Beard Nominee Joins Illinois Steakhouse
The team at PM Prime has selected Robert B. Bansberg, an award-winning sommelier and wine educator, as general manager and sommelier of the new steakhouse opening in Highwood, Illinois, early this summer.
Bansberg grew up in a small town in Illinois, where he picked grapes for his father’s homemade wine and shared simple food with family, prepared with care by his mother. Meals were taken as seriously as conversation at the lively Bansberg dinner table.
Bansberg came to Chicago to pursue a pre-med degree at Northwestern University. On a whim, he took a job at The Pump Room to pay for the Neurophysiology Graduate Program at the University of Illinois Medical Center. There, he realized he deeply respect the vast diversity of fine wines, the time-honored rituals that were built upon their enjoyment, and the intricate ways in which they complemented the food.
He began his career at The Pump Room in Chicago in 1976 as captain, wine buyer, and maitre’d. Since 1992, he has taught a wine and beverage management class at Kendall College’s School of the Culinary Arts. He also hosted The Wine Series, a wine appreciation and food pairing course for the community.
He has built a stellar career and reputation upon his ability to replicate those experiences for the diners who shared his enthusiasm. In 1999, Bansberg was nominated for the highly coveted James Beard Award, for which only the top five sommeliers in the country are considered. In 2009, Bansberg won the Jean Banchet Award for Culinary Excellence as the Best Sommelier in Chicago.
"World class servers can be taught to read their customers nonverbally and anticipate their needs in a warm hospitable manner to enrich the dining experience," Bansberg says.
Bansberg will join a PM Prime team that includes Chef Dominic Zumpano and owner Steve Platcow. Bansberg says, “I share Steve’s passion for getting things right, along with his devotion to all aspects of the dining experience.”
Chef Dominic Zumpano’s culinary career has spanned from Maine’s Rose Garden Restaurant, one of only 47 five-diamond restaurants in the U.S., to Lake Forest’s popular Market House on the Square. Chef Zumpano was nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest. He was nominated for Chicago’s Jean Banchet award as a rising chef and also featured in Best Chefs of America as one of Chicago’s top chefs in the 2013 book.