Heaven on Seven at 111 N. Wabash, 7th floor, Chicago, is the original location for the authentic Cajun cuisine of critically acclaimed chef/owner Jimmy Bannos. With the ever-famous gumbo, Heaven on Seven provides the best Louisiana cooking outside of New Orleans.
Third generation restaurateur, Jimmy Bannos was born and raised in the restaurant business. In 1980, with Jimmy fresh out of Washburne Trade School, where he received his formal culinary education, the Bannos family opened its concept of a “neighborhood restaurant in the middle of the loop.” On the seventh floor of the Garland Building, the “New Garland Coffee Shop” was born. It was in 1984, while experimenting with Louisiana recipes that Jimmy’s real passion and talent for cooking emerged. Soon regular customers were going crazy over his gumbo and red beans, demanding Cajun specials year round. Feeling a true affinity for the South, Jimmy and his wife Annamarie headed to New Orleans to immerse themselves in the culture.
What had started as just a diversion from coffee shop fare grew into a true passion for everything Cajun and Creole. In 1985, compelled by a real love for this food, the Bannos family transformed their neighborhood coffee shop into “Heaven on Seven.” Aptly named to identify its seventh floor location and to describe the heavenly clouds of steam wafting from Jimmy’s scrumptious gumbo, “Heaven on Seven” was created with heart and soul. Jimmy’s goal was then and is now for “Heaven on Seven” to be the best Louisiana style restaurant outside of New Orleans.
Serving a highly personalized interpretation of New Orleans and Southern cooking, Jimmy has smartly reinvented his food and his restaurant over the years to keep his concept fresh and vibrant. Over 37 years since opening his restaurant’s doors, he continues to innovate and create. Jimmy’s menu marries Latin, South American, Asian and Western European methods with New Orleans techniques and ingredients. A collector of modern and antique cookbooks, Bannos entered the publishing world himself with The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where it’s Mardi Gras All the Time! and Big Easy Cocktails, Jazzy Drinks and Savory Bites.
What separates Jimmy from the rest is his ability to season aggressively without overpowering the palate. While he uses cayenne-spiked seasoning blends and red chili pepper sauces, he also incorporates milder, well-rounded seasoning agents. The result is a complex layering of flavors that is consistent with New Orleans cooking principles, while bringing the region’s food into the 21st century.
Chef Jimmy Bannos is central to Chicago’s outstanding culinary community and is a deep believer in giving back to his community. Jimmy donates his time and resources in support of Meals on Wheels, Autism Speaks, March of Dimes, the Scleroderma Foundation, just to name a few.
Jimmy Bannos was the second inductee to Chicago Culinary Museum’s Chef’s Hall of Fame in 2007, (he was preceded by the late Charlie Trotter and followed by Rick Bayless). Jimmy has appeared on several national and local programs and is a regular contributor to a weekly radio program on Chicago’s WGN Radio.