Michael Hernandez Executive Chef
Chicago South Side native Michael Hernandez found his passion for cooking by learning to cook for himself, coming from a single parent working home. Hernandez continued to hone his skills during an 8-year stint in the Navy as a chef. Hernandez received his formal culinary training from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, formerly known as The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. In 2013, Hernandez wanted to pursue opening his own restaurant and worked his way up in various kitchens, including Vio Café, which he quickly acquired and renamed in 2015.
Hernandez owned Diez Y Ocho, a burger joint in Pilsen where he was known for his gourmet burgers that were infused with Mexican ingredients like chorizo, guacamole, carnitas, and chilaquiles. His food was featured in “Chicago’s Best” and was a tribute to the Pilsen neighborhood.
As Executive Chef at Azul, Chef Michael is excited to step out of his comfort zone and expand his portfolio with the Latin inspired cuisine that fills the kitchen at Azul.
Hugo Zuniga Chef de Cuisine
Born and raised in the Logan Square neighborhood in the heart of Chicago, Hugo Zuniga quickly discovered that cooking was his passion. After attending Northern Illinois University in 2012, Zuniga knew that he wanted to pursue his love of cooking and enter into the bustling hospitality industry that immerses Chicago.
Starting in 2013, Hugo Zuniga was working his way up from Line Cook to Kitchen Manager and Head Chef at infamous Chicago restaurants. Zuniga expanded his portfolio by becoming well-versed in everything from bar food to fine dining and anything in between. While working under and alongside prestigious Chefs, Zuniga was given hands-on experience that has been extremely influential in his career.
When Hugo Zuniga was presented with the opportunity to join Azul as Chef de Cuisine, he saw it as a chance to expand his portfolio and create a culinary experience like no other. Zuniga is excited about the new challenges that come with a new restaurant and passionate about continuing to build his skillset with the different cuisines and latin-inspired seafood dishes that fill the kitchen at Azul.
Maryrose Moses Pastry Chef
Senkoene Interior Muralist curated by the B-Line
Born and raised in Mexico City, Senkoe’s love of art started at an early age, painting the walls of his mothers’ home. Inspired by the trains that traveled down from California to Mexico that were covered in local graffiti, Senkoe started to evolve as an artist. One of the major themes in Senkoe’s work is the discussion of identity. He mixes mystica imagery with references to pop culture, graphic design and modern illustration to create bold artistic statements.
For Azul, Senkoe drew inspiration from the Puebla region, an area in Mexico that specializes in ceramics and talavera. Senkoe mixed sacred geometry and nature to tie together the entire ambiance and environment of the Latin seafood cuisine with the use of the octopus and crab murals that wrap the walls of Azul. His art overtakes the nationalist discourse and goes beyond the border; they make use of a language that graces the mystical and spiritual profundities tied to the natural forces, use of colors, shamanism and magic. Fused into a Mexican chimeric identity, he constructs what can be called a narrative graffiti that results in his work stimulating the imagination of the passerby in a kind of animalistic and dream.
Senkoe’s bold, colorful and stunningly beautiful murals can be seen throughout the restaurant and Azul’s terrace ceiling.
Company Inq Exterior Muralist
A creative design agency expressly built to serve a diverse portfolio of clients with varying needs, Company INQ boasts a uniquely crafted team with decades of design and street art.
Amuse 126 Co-Founder
Amuse126 is a Chicago based artist who is amongst the top-tier of his generation when it comes to modern aerosol artwork. His techniques, designs and aerosol specific effects are pushing the envelope in the modern graffiti art world today. Amuse126’s organic and dynamic approach to traditional graffiti lettering also crosses the boundaries into abstract fine art. You can stare at his murals for hours as they are eye candy to the viewer.
John spent the last decade plus building and expanding the Chicago Cubs brand footprint through amplification of its cultural touchpoints, most recently as its Director of Brand Development and Activation. His passion for art and design, coupled with his extensive business background, drives him to deliver the ultimate results for brands.
Naranjo has done custom installations for themed events at The Godfrey, SX Sky Bar and Estate to name a few. He created the wooden letter installation outside Azul, inspired by vacations in places such as Tulum and Brazil.
Azul Safety Precaution Messaging
To ensure a safe and comfortable dining and drinking experience for all our guests, Azul promises to follow the guidelines set in place by the City of Chicago, Illinois Restaurant Association and CDC.
The Illinois Restaurant Promise:
- Employees will wear face coverings.
- Seating will be arranged to provide a minimum of 6-ft between tables. No tables will have more than 6 people.
- We will provide handwashing capability or sanitizer to employees and customers.
- No tables will be pre-set and condiments will be provided only upon request.
- Employees will wash their hands frequently.
- Employees will wear gloves according to food code regulations.
- All employees must pass a pre-shift health screening.
- We will clean and disinfect common areas and high touched surfaces frequently.
- We will also clean and disinfect each dining area after every use.
Additional Azul health and sanitation measures:
- Weekly Pure One Clean electrostatic disinfection and sanitization to kill COVID-19, influenza, staph, MRSA and over 50+ other viruses.
- Providing ample opportunities for guests to clean/sanitize their hands
- Serving staff has Certifications in ServSafe Sanitation Certification and ServSafe Food Handler
- Restaurant management has Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification and Restaurant Food Handler Certification
Charity Partner: Project Fire / Firebird Community Arts
Project FIRE, the signature program of Firebird Community Arts, is a glassblowing and trauma recovery program for youth injured by gun violence in Chicago. In addition to healing through glassblowing, Project FIRE is an employment and mentoring program that provides trauma informed support groups, case management, and medical treatment.
Project FIRE works with 25 young people per session. Sessions take place in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Each individual meets for 4-8 hours per week, each day beginning with three hours of glassblowing, followed by one hour of youth co-facilitated trauma informed support groups, called SELF groups.
Project FIRE will create the Jarritos (clay cups) and Cazuela Real (large format clay pots) for Azul’s signature “Cantarito” cocktail. Proceeds from the Cantarito sales will benefit Project Fire. To find out more about Project Fire and how you can help this great cause, click here!
Located along the Chicago river in the burgeoning Goose Island neighborhood, Azul is an upscale mariscos (seafood) restaurant serving an expansive menu of Latin-inspired fare. The concept aims to combine the ethos of an authentic mariscos restaurant with modern hospitality practices and all the touches of a sophisticated, lively spot.
Celebrating the rich flavors and fresh ingredients of Latin culinary culture, Azul’s chef-driven menu is brimming with refined representations of classic mariscos cuisine. Created by Executive Chef Michael Hernandez, Azul will offer a variety of grilled, baked, fried and raw proteins as well as ceviches, seafood cocktails and artfully arranged family-style platters. Guests can look forward to mouthwatering dishes like Grilled King Crab Legs prepared Nayarit-style, Whole Veracruz Red Snapper and Grilled Tequila Lime Glazed Salmon topped with housemade Fire Roasted Salsa and Fresh Avocado. The seasonal menu will change as the weather begins to turn colder, making Azul a year-round dining destination.
An inventive beverage program includes craft cocktails, cervezas, wine and international spirits. A list of signature libations will include original creations like the Cantarito, a citrusy tequila-based drink served in jarritos (clay pots) created by Project FIRE -a glassblowing and trauma recovery program for youth injured by gun violence in Chicago. Proceeds from Cantarito drink sales will benefit Project FIRE.
The space itself is a visual experience that’s as bold and beautiful as the food & drinks themselves. The walls of the multi-level space are covered in shades of blue with accents of orange and bright white throughout. Original artwork in the form of ocean-inspired murals by Mexico’s Senoke punctuate the space while an eclectic array of glass, metal and ceramic light fixtures hang from the ceiling.
Oversized windows flood the main dining room and bar with natural light, creating a warm ambiance year-round. A lounge-like area next to the dining room boasts plush banquettes and garage doors, which create a wide-open feel in the summer and cozy atmosphere in the winter.
The crown jewel of Azul will undoubtedly be its rooftop (one of the largest open-air rooftop in the city of Chicago.) During the day, the rooftop will offer a decidedly more relaxed vibe where guests can sip on a drink or two and hang out as they enjoy the view. After the sun goes down, the rooftop will change a bit, combining the sexy, sultry feel of a lounge with the relaxed feel that’s at the center of the Azul brand. The rooftop will open this summer with the full renovation to be completed in Spring 2021.
Additional patios situated on the first floor provide extra options for al fresco dining & drinking in the spring, summer and fall.