Driven. In one word, describes Soraya Rendon, Owner of Chilam Balam. Leaving the security of her family & the solace of home in Mexico City, alone she came to the United States at the young age of 18, intent on achieving the American Dream. With only a couple hundred dollars to her name, she immediately devised plans and set them into action.

Learn English, check. Learn a career, check. Go from earning minimum wage to a salary most of us dream of within 5 years of coming to America, check and check. Some would think she had reached her goal, her American Dream...not Soraya. She had bigger plans, more dreams to fulfill. Chilam Balam is one of those dreams. Soraya hopes you will join and savor with her this next endeavor where she brings a little taste of her old home to yours.

Chef Natalie Oswald started out baking as a child with her mother and grandmother. Growing up in Toledo, Ohio she decorated cakes at local bakeries and her mothers kitchen. Friends and neighbors would always stop by for a taste or to watch her create. Already a knowledgeable baker, Oswald decided to pursue a culinary degree at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She was first introduced to Chicago during her externship at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. It was here that Natalie really grasped the concepts of traditional Mexican cuisine and the use of local ingredients. As a young girl, her mother taught her the basics of gardening but until Frontera she never really understood the impact of natural organic farming.

Upon graduation from culinary school, Natalie started a pastry chef position in the west loop at Otom restaurant. Here she refined her skills and worked her way up in the Chicago restaurant culture. Three years later, she was asked to help with the pastries at the newly opening Chilam Balam. Given her background in Mexican cuisine the job soon escalated to a full time Sous Chef and then Executive Chef position. It is very important to Natalie that her menu continues to showcase local, seasonal ingredients and ideas.

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