LIVES IN: Ravenswood AGE: 29 CLAIM TO FAME: Schulman is carrying on a legacy. Her late grandfather, Eli, owned iconic Chicago restaurants, including Eli’s the Place for Steak. He and her father, Marc, founded Eli’s Cheesecake in 1980 to bring the homemade desserts that were so popular at the steakhouse to a wider public. Schulman recently returned home from New York to be a manager in the family business. FIRST GIG: In New York, Schulman worked for Vice Media’s Munchies, where she was a James Beard Award-winning video producer. With a film major from Vassar, she seemed to be destined for the director’s chair. “My parents have always been very supportive of my other dreams,” says Schulman. “But in the back of my mind I knew joining them at Eli’s Cheesecake was what I really wanted to do.” IRELAND BOUND: With culinary hopes, Schulman jetted off to Ireland to attend a three-month program at Ballymaloe, a restaurant, inn, and cooking school. “The program was on a 100-acre farm and everything we cooked was grown there or farmed within a five-mile radius,” she says. WELL ROUNDED: Now a special programs manager at Eli’s, Schulman does everything from event planning to menu concepting to branding. Ultimately, as the only one in her generation (Schulman has two sisters) to work there it will eventually fall to her to “continue the story and honor what my dad built.” MEANT TO BE: Even as a young girl Schulman was a fixture in the culinary scene. “I was always at the steakhouse, playing harmonica next to the piano player or hanging out at the hostess stand. For Christmas when I was 10 years old, I asked for a cordless vacuum and table crumber.” ALWAYS INSPIRED: Thinking out of the strawberry and chocolate-chip box matters to Schulman and she is constantly scouting new flavors and ingredients at places like Tai Nam Market (4925 N. Broadway) and also loves swinging by old-school spots like Manny’s (1141 S. Jefferson), Athenian Room (807 W. Webster), and Romanian Kosher Sausage Company (7200 N. Clark). “When I want to learn about a city, I eat,” she says.
Photo by Lisa Hinsberger