Future Entrepreneurs: Take the Call

18 Jan Future Entrepreneurs: Take the Call

If I cannot have too many truffles I will do without. ~Colette


Entrepreneur Spotlight
Chicago’s real Italian gem in Wicker Park, Nando Milano


Earlier in my life, I was much more of a go-with-the-flow girl. Serendipity. Synchronicity. Meeting friends with sailboats my first summer in Chicago…these are reasons for me to be based in Chicago. In this Future Entrepreneur series, we’re laying out plans and best practices for your entrepreneur journey. Last week we honored the “a new day” with Oprah at the Golden Globes. This week we’ll go light and delicious, with a dollop of inspiration for a strong finish.


Take the Call


When I returned to Chicago from my sejour in Hawaii, I received a call from someone in the French soiree scene who asked if I still work in PR. I was back to my city life after living in a rainforest and a castle in Hawaii. It took me a few minutes to adjust. My honest answer was “sometimes I work in PR”. He asked if I would meet his Italian friends and see what I thought about their restaurant.


Enter Nando Milano…authentic Italian cuisine in Wicker Park [Nandomilano.com]. I had started to study Italian as I was writing “INVITO” my first mélange of sizzling travel stories in thriller form (from my “Davanti” series). Short answer: Nando Milano is straight-up deliciousness in any language. I had just retired as an event manager known for “gourmet soirees”, summer menu pairings, sailing and “Team Charming”. I’ve also been a freelance writer for most of my career.
The first time I met Dario Vullo and Chef Alessio Vullo I introduced them to my dear friend Anthony of Liven it Up Events [Livenitup.com]. Anthony catered some of my soirees, we’ve planned gorgeous weddings together.
I was glad to share some Italian hospitality with Anthony at my side. It was a lovely intro to Italian cuisine and a pact to workout together more often if we’ll be feasting like this. Nando’s owner Dario Vullo invited me back and encouraged me as I was learning Italian; his co-owner/younger brother Chef Alessio also encouraged me to keep practicing my Italian and to share updates about my writing.
They were a start-up business; I believed they had the elements to succeed. Nando Milano and I worked out a PR push to help spread their gospel of “Real Italian” from Wicker Park, Chicago to anyone who’d listen. I had a side hustle; I was able to take afternoons off for photo and film shoots, plus tastings. Dario, Chef Alessio, Luca and I worked hard to get pro shots of some of favorite Vullo family dishes.


Voila, they brought out my inner filmmaker again. I made 23 short films for them. And I’m certainly grateful to work and play so well together (AND in 3 languages). Team Nando Milano racked up several awards, so I’m thrilled to see them/us shine. We have 5 Michelin recommendations together and were just listed as Chicago’s top Italian on Open Table (end of 2017). Executive Chef Alessio Vullo creates dishes as an artist. We were invited to First Bites Bash where Alessio’s skills and the team’s charm won over hundreds of new fans after that event. Chef Alessio has been auditioned for a few Food Network shows, but it would need to be the right fit to move forward; I know he’d be honored with a James Beard awards and a Michelin star as well. In the meantime, this is about doing what they love, and sharing the love of simple, authentic Italian cuisine. Even though I’m not a food critic, I certainly know #RealItalian is the only way to go. Nando Milano? SI, please!


Make the Call


Nando Milano will be part of Chicago restaurant week, January 26 – February 8, 2018 AKA #CRW18. We’ll follow up about James Beard Week for May soon.
Check out the Nando Milano #CRW18 spotlight + menu:
Book your table for Chicago Restaurant Week: http://www.nandomilano.com/reservations.aspx
I’m working on rewrites to step away from the side hustle and ever closer to my “Davanti”
Thriller series in novel and film form. (“More sizzle!!” was my recent feedback from a producer, so I’m on board.) I go to Nando to relax and catch up and share stories. Yes, they have inspired some scenes in the “luscious” thriller series. Fortunately, I still get invited to some tastings and previews. As I write this, Nando Milano has named a dozen things after me over the last 4 years – mostly desserts, and a few drinks. I’m grateful, honored and inspired. They hosted my #ShineThroughtheNoise book launch in 2 cities and donated money to my book sponsor, Teen Cancer America. I’m so glad I took that call and dinner meeting!


I wish you a strong partnership that grows with you an entrepreneur!


>> Think about a friend’s business or a start-up near you.
How could you work together?
Could you share a success of theirs on social media? Then ask them to do the same for you.
Read more about synchronicity and living in a castle in Hawaii:
Make your language skills a priority this year: http://thewishwall.org/desideri/future-entrepreneurs-language-skills

Salute & fair winds!
Akasha Lin
Akasha Garnier for The Wishwall
Author, Brand Expert, Filmmaker
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