MARI KATSUMURA - EXECUTIVE CHEF | CHRISTY FUHRMAN - BEVERAGE DIRECTOR
MORGAN OLSZEWSKI - GENERAL MANAGER/DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS | CODY NASON - SERVICE DIRECTOR
Born in Chicago, Executive Chef Mari Katsumura was fully immersed in culinary culture at a young age. Raised directly above her family’s restaurant, Yoshi’s Café, Katsumura spent many afternoons as a child watching Julia Child and Jacques Pépin on public television. Following time spent in several of Chicago’s acclaimed kitchens, Katsumura’s brings a wide range of expertise and passion as leader of both the savory and pastry kitchens at Yūgen.
Inspired by both her Japanese heritage and classic French training, Chef Katsumura will present a menu rooted in culture, passion and unsung flavor while showcasing her fresh, energetic approach to contemporary Japanese fare.
Originally dreaming of becoming an artist, Katsumura attended liberal arts college in Hudson Valley, NY, studying art history and studio arts. She then moved to Minnesota and had a reawakening, inspiring her to enroll in culinary school. Katsumura attended Le Cordon Bleu (Mendota Heights, MN) and shortly thereafter pursued an education at The French Pastry School (Chicago, IL).
Katsumura’s style has been refined in many of Chicago’s most esteemed kitchens. She began her professional savory career with an internship under Chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill, and was hired at the original Xoco. Following her transition to pastry, Katsumura completed an internship at Boka and was part of the opening team at The Pump Room working closely with Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten and becoming Pastry Sous Chef. Katsumura then spent three years at Grace as part of the team that was awarded three Michelin stars. Subsequently, she worked under Chef Dana Cree as Pastry Sous Chef at Paul Kahan’s flagship restaurant Blackbird. Following time spent in several of Chicago’s award-winning kitchens, she joined Chef Ryan McCaskey at the two-star Michelin rated restaurant Acadia. Shortly thereafter, Katsumura joined the opening team at Lakeview’s Entente with Executive Chef Brian Fisher; the restaurant was awarded a prestigious Michelin star in 2018. Katsumura has been, and always will be, captivated by the cooking process as a whole. Her mentors include her father, the beloved Chef Yoshi Katsumura, along with Chef Dana Cree, from whom she’s learned invaluable life lessons and kitchen practices.
Katsumura describes her cooking style is progressive Japanese founded upon classical French technique.
"It is a dream to bring a contemporary Japanese concept to life," said Katsumura. "My mother and late father, Yoshi Katsumura, taught me early on about hospitality. I grew up in their restaurant, watching and learning what it means to build your life around the pleasure of serving others. At home, we prepared and ate traditional Japanese dishes that shortened the distance between us and my parents’ homeland. It had – and continues to have – tremendous influence on my desire to recreate that powerful effect in my own cooking.
This restaurant is, in many ways, a culmination of my familial upbringing as well as that of the kitchens in which I have been privileged to work. I look forward to honoring my family’s legacy by bringing our heirloom recipes to life while expressing my vision as a fine dining chef today."
GENERAL MANAGER/DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Morgan Olszewski brings an enlightened perspective to restaurant ownership that centers around fluidity, transparency, creativity and fruitfulness. As a budding businesswoman, she is a fresh face in hospitality, poised to make an impact at the helm of one of the nation’s most exciting new restaurants. With Yūgen being among her first ventures in the restaurant industry, along with Onward in Chicago’s Roger’s Park, she is honored and humbled to collaborate alongside a group of highly specialized individuals in the field, including her father and Co-Owner Michael Olszewski and Executive Chef Mari Katsumura.
Along with her business savviness and sparkling personality, Olszewski embraces the perspectives from her teammates’ personal and professional experiences, crediting their knowledge as an opportunity to further her development as a restaurant owner. Having a business background and a lifelong passion for hospitality, Olszewski believes in finding the harmony between the business side and the hospitality side of the restaurant industry. Olszewski, a native of Barrington, IL, graduated from Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business in 2017 with a degree in Business Management and minor in Spanish Language and Literature. In 2018, she earned an Entrepreneurship MBA along with a Business Ethics certificate, also from Loyola University Chicago.
While earning her MBA, Olszewski gained versatile experience as a teaching and research assistant, learning the ins and outs of various business and management arenas including Microenterprise Consulting, Engaged Learning Business Statistics, and Managing/Organizing People and Strategic Management. She entered her career with gusto, becoming involved with Best Buddies Illinois’ jobs consulting employment program as well as holding an internship with the Justice System Restart Initiative – both of which allowed her to combine business knowledge with a passion for making a positive difference in the community. Olszewski also gained early experience with real estate and business working for Area Wide Realty & Mortgages, analyzing financial data and building business plans. She models her practices after companies who put people first and by placing stakeholder values at the forefront, naturally allowing for profit to follow.
She aims for both the artistic aspect and the business portion of the restaurant to function as a holistic entity rather than two separate parts at their own pace. For Olszewski, a working environment has to be welcoming of varying opinions, with the effort to incorporate all ideas into the overall strategic plan for success, growth and development. Transparency is also key, leading individuals to understand each other’s passions and strengths, and forming mutual respect between the back and front of house in a restaurant. When pondering the meaning of hospitality, Olszewski fondly remembers Sunday family dinners at her grandparents’ home. Every week, these dinners provided her family a warm and loving environment, not only with amazing homemade meals, but most remarkably by bringing people together. This setting where people can sit and enjoy the moment is what she aims to recreate at Yūgen.
Olszewski is passionate about community and nonprofit work, looking to improve everything around her. She seeks opportunities to find something in need and act to build or improve it. During her free time, volunteer work, athletics and a healthy lifestyle are important to Olszewski. She has been involved with Best Buddies since 2006 and is the Co-Chair of the Young Leaders Council. She is also on the Associates Board of the Chicago Zoological Society and previously volunteered for University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. She was a collegiate softball player and is also a three-time Chicago Marathon runner. She savors having a healthy, active lifestyle full of sports, and being outdoors with friends and family.
For over 20 years Michael Olszewski has built a successful career as a prominent real estate developer, working closely with the City of Chicago as a court appointed receiver and licensed developer. He also services nonperforming real estate assets for institutional lenders, governmental entities and Wall Street Firms, having liquidated over $1 billion in real estate assets. He is also a licensed real estate broker in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin with offices in each state.
According to the MLS, for the past decade Olszewski has ranked number two in total value sold and has sold over 2% of the total market share. Following an outstanding restaurant experience with his wife, Olszewski’s passion for fine dining was ignited. He was inspired by how the balance of food, hospitality and service could truly transport and change one’s perspective. He aims to deliver such an experience to diners from around the globe as Co-Owner of Yūgen in Chicago. Upon falling in love with gastronomy, Olszewski forayed into the restaurant industry as Owner and Operator of Chicago’s former Grace, where the restaurant earned a coveted 3-star rating by Michelin Guide, among numerous other accolades worldwide.
At Yūgen, Olszewski’s goal is to establish the contemporary Japanese concept as a recognized destination for one of the most enjoyable dining journeys in the country. Working alongside Co-Owner and daughter Morgan Olszewski, Executive Chef Mari Katsumura and other seasoned industry veterans, he is motivated by Yūgen’s powerful leadership team. As Yūgen’s sole investor, Olszewski is proud to support his colleague’s creative ambitions.
Olszewski is dedicated to creating an environment that allows for a memorable experience at each and every visit. As a goal-oriented professional, he thrives off the challenge of combining the creativity of the restaurant industry with finance. Outside of his career in real estate development and restaurant ownership, Olszewski enjoys spending time with his wife, children and his network of close family and friends.
Yūgen is to be part of a certain magic evoked by poised equilibrium of excellent cuisine, inspiring design and unforgettable hospitality.
Experienced, warm hospitality will abound. Yūgen is to be guided through the dining experience with a touch that is at once knowledgeable and gracious.
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