Eric Lees Takes Over Michelin-starred Spiaggia in Chicago

Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia, both renowned for Chef Tony Mantuano’s prevailing representation of Italian fare, have announced Eric Lees as the restaurants’ new Executive Chef. Lees, a Spiaggia veteran of nearly three years, will follow Top Chef Winner Joe Flamm’s reign as Executive Chef. Beginning October 1, Lees will be in place to continue the impressive dynasty of all-star chefs to have helmed Mantuano’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia and critically acclaimed Café Spiaggia kitchens over the years.

“Eric is a Chef who embodies the passion for Italian cuisine and the artistic mind needed to lead this culinary charge,” says Mantuano. “His skill level, combined with his consistent culinary vision and charisma, are what make me so proud to see him next in line as Executive Chef.”

Developing a passion for cooking at a young age while growing up in Blaine, Minnesota, Lees’ interest in cooking was cultivated at Le Cordon Blue in Minneapolis. Prior to joining the Spiaggia team in 2016, Lees worked alongside a litany of notable chefs, including a past stint in Chicago as part of James Beard Award-winning Chef Mathias Merges’ teams for his acclaimed restaurants A10 and Yusho. His culinary story richened further under the leadership of Mantuano and Flamm, who Lees considers to be guiding forces in his career journey.

In his new role as Executive Chef of Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia, Lees aims to stay consistent with the core principles that have created the restaurants’ sterling reputations, while artfully imparting nods to his personal culinary style. After mirroring Mantuano’s iconic pilgrimage through Italy this past month, Lees has brought back even more knowledge of the key flavors and techniques that he aims to impart on his upcoming menus. His love for fresh seafood and sourcing unique varietals of the best local ingredients will bring his personal signature to the dining experience.

Diners can expect Lees first Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia menus to debut on October 25. For reservations and information on upcoming events, please visit