Chef Clifford Rome developed an early interest in food after helping his grandmother prepare meals fresh from the garden of his childhood home in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. He began his culinary career as an food operations manager at Midway Concessionaires and mastered the art of event planning through his experience with the Marriott Corporation. Chef Rome’s career took a turn toward fine dining, working with renowned chefs Wolfgang Puck and François Kwaku-Dongo at Spago Restaurant, as a line chef and member of their catering team—creating meals for the social elite, commercial photo shoots and Oscar parties.
Today, Chef Rome’s culinary experience spans the globe. While working at Spago, Chef Rome studied culinary arts in Paris. He would later serve as a culinary consultant on a privately-owned yacht, for over a year, while sailing the Caribbean. From 1998-2003, Chef Rome was one of five chefs selected to work at the Cannes International Film Festival’s American Pavilion—alongside master chefs Roger Verge, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Todd English.
In 2002, Chef Rome founded Rome’s Joy Companies, which boasts a business portfolio that included two restaurants, a full service catering and event-planning company, a fine art gallery and the Parkway Ballroom—a historic banquet facility located in the heart of Chicago’s Bronzeville community. With more than 25 years of experience in the field of food service, Chef Rome has received numerous awards and recognition from local, national and international media alike. Also, part of the Rome’s Joy team is Executive Chef Claude Ako and Sous Chef Kevin Adair.
Chef Rome has made frequent television appearances as well as features in Chicago Sun-Times, The Washington Post, Black Enterprise magazine to name a few. Chef Rome is committed to promoting African American participation in the culinary industry. He has partnered with Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (CCAP), After School Matters, Healthy Schools Campaign, YMCA, Centers for New Horizons, Education to Careers and Washburne Culinary School (the oldest culinary school in the country), where he serves as Board President. Through these partnerships, Chef Rome has encouraged African American youth to pursue careers in the culinary field.