Press Releases

Jul 12, 2016

Channel Your Inner Chef’s Winning Dish Unveiled at Chicago O’Hare International Airport

HMSHost and Chicago Department of Aviation also debut the first-of-its-kind mobile food cart that delivers food and beverages to travelers at their gates

CHICAGO — A new dish inspired by a traveler debuted at the Goose Island Brewery at Chicago O’Hare International Airport today. Amidst a crowd of hungry passengers and officials from the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), 2016 Channel Your Inner Chef winner Sepi Naficy was on hand to showcase the new Paella Bowl and offer samples to traveling guests.

Earlier this year, Sepi won Channel Your Inner Chef, a live culinary competition held right in O’Hare Airport, created by global restaurateur HMSHost in partnership with the CDA. Sepi’s winning dish served as inspiration for the new Paella Bowl. It consists of grilled chicken and shrimp with spring peas served over chorizo-infused rice, and it has a suggested pairing with the Goose Island IPA for a perfect meal.

O’Hare travelers passing through Terminal 3 today were also treated to live musical entertainment while they sampled the winning dish and fresh, seasonal fruit sangria developed by the HMSHost culinary team.

“We congratulate Sepi Naficy and HMSHost on another fun and successful live cooking competition,” said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans. “Passengers traveling through O’Hare will now have the chance, as I did while acting as a judge for the competition, to sample Sepi’s delicious and original dish.”

“It was an exciting day to join our partner, the Chicago Department of Aviation, in celebrating the launch of this new dish inspired by Channel Your Inner Chef winner Sepi Naficy’s paella,” said HMSHost President and CEO Steve Johnson. “Bringing Channel Your Inner Chef back to Chicago this year once again showcased the innovation HMSHost has to offer and was a unique opportunity to give the aviation and traveling community the chance to highlight their culinary talent.”

Travelers at the event also got a first look at the debut of the HMSHost-operated Mobile Ala Cart – O’Hare’s first mobile food cart that delivers select food and beverages to travelers at their gates.

With Mobile Ala Cart, travelers in a time crunch, or who don’t want to leave their gates, now have the convenience of grabbing their last minute snacks and beverages before boarding their flights. The addition of Mobile Ala Cart is another example of how HMSHost brings innovative food and dining options to enhance the guest experience for travelers at airports.

About Channel Your Inner Chef

Channel Your Inner Chef earned first place for Best Innovative Consumer Experience Concept or Practice by the Airports Council International - North America, 2016 Excellence in Airport Concessions Awards.

Channel Your Inner Chef was open to employees and travelers in Chicago and all over the country. To enter, contestants submitted a five-minute video of themselves preparing an original recipe. Five finalists were selected to participate in a 30-minute timed cook-off at the airport in March. A panel of judges selected Sepi’s dish as the best, winning her two VIP admissions to the James Beard Foundation Awards Gala, sponsored by HMSHost, and round-trip airfare to a choice U.S. destination.

Sepi, a mom and aspiring chef from Dallas, entered the contest to try something new. Channel Your Inner Chef was judged by a panel composed of a diverse group of aviation professionals and guests in the Chicago community and marked HMSHost’s sponsorship of the 2016 James Beard Awards. Judging criteria included cooking technique, recipe, presentation, form, showmanship and taste.

About HMSHost
Global restaurateur HMSHost is a world leader in creating dining for travel venues. HMSHost operates locations all over North America, and is part of Autogrill Group, the world's leading provider of food & beverage services for people on the move. Visit for more information.