Missy Robbins

Chef & Owner, Lilia

Celebrated chef Missy Robbins is recognized for her exemplary Italian cuisine. Executed with a subtle flair and innate elegance, she focuses on simplicity, highlighting flavorful ingredients that reference traditions from regions throughout Italy.

Missy’s culinary career began while attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In 1993, a part-time job at 1789 restaurant sparked her passion for cooking and led Robbins to attend one of the nation’s premier culinary career training centers—Peter Kump’s New York School of Cooking [now The Institute of Culinary Education]. An externship at March Restaurant followed where she worked for renowned Chef Wayne Nish before moving on to Arcadia, where she cooked under Chef Anne Rosenzweig. In the spring of 1995, a position opened at March and Missy returned to her esteemed training ground. She stayed for two years before she was wooed away again by Rosenzweig, this time to work at The Lobster Club as a sous chef. Robbins helped run the kitchen there for two more years, developing her creative style, sharpening her leadership skills and gaining insight into the business operations of a restaurant. 

To further the breadth of her culinary experience, Robbins embarked on an excursion to Northern Italy where she worked in several kitchens ranging from family-run rustic trattorias in Tuscany to the Michelin–rated Agli Amici in Friuli. Growing intimate with Italian products and cooking, Robbins fell in love with the simplicity, the regional inspiration and innate focus on quality ingredients that characterize Italian food.

Upon returning to the United States, Robbins worked as sous chef, and later as chef de cuisine, at the boutique SoHo Grand Hotel. Eager to celebrate her appreciation for the simplicity of Italian cuisine, Robbins was lured to Chicago in 2003 by Tony Mantuano, one of the nation’s few four-star Italian chefs, at the highly acclaimed Spiaggia. As Executive Chef of Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia, Robbins brought her passion for Italian cooking to life, responsible for menu development and the continual evolution of the restaurant. 

While she served as Executive Chef of A Voce restaurants from the fall of 2008 to spring of 2013, she received critical acclaim for creating classic Italian specialties with a contemporary twist. Under Robbins’ direction, A Voce Madison earned a Michelin star in 2009, while A Voce Columbus earned its Michelin star in 2010 and maintained them throughout her tenure.

Chef Robbins has been recognized for her talents, earning many of the food world’s top accolades: In 2005, Star Chefs named her as one of Chicago’s Ten Rising Star Chefs of the Year, as did Restaurant Hospitality magazine. The same year she received writer William Rice’s Most Promising Chef Award in conjunction with the Chicago Wine & Food Festival and was inducted into the Institute of Culinary Education’s Hall of Fame. During her tenure at Spiaggia, the restaurant was nominated by The James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Restaurant nationally twice and for Outstanding Service in 2008. In 2010, Missy was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs – she was the only woman included on the list and the only chef from New York. 

Most recently, Missy opened her first restaurant, Lilia, in January 2016 in North Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The restaurant has received critical and public acclaim, earning Three Stars from The New York Times, and praise from numerous outlets around the country.