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50 Most Beautiful Chicagoans

Rohini Dey

AGE: 42
OCCUPATION: restaurateur
HOMETOWN: New Delhi, India
LIVES IN: Lincoln Park

If you grow up in New Delhi, India, the World Bank building is a familiar and awe-inspiring symbol of modernity. So says Rohini Dey, who, when she was 12, informed a World Bank employee during a visit that she, too, would work there someday. “Go get a Ph.D. and come back,” replied the lady tartly. “So I did,” says Dey, who recounts with some relish her trot through the upper echelons of achievement: After tucking her Ph.D. in economics under her belt, she took a job with the World Bank in Washington, D.C., before becoming a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in Chicago, where her husband, Sajal Kohli, still works. But she gave up her hard-won executive career for an even bigger challenge: owning a restaurant. That restaurant—Vermilion, the Indian-Latin hot spot in River North—opened in 2003, just weeks after the birth of Dey’s second daughter. Success prompted the triathlete and scaler of Mount Kilimanjaro to take yet another leap: She opened a 12,000-square-foot outpost of Vermillion in New York in 2008, two months after Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, as it turned out. “Huge learning curve,” Dey notes dryly. “That’s what makes it energizing for me.”

 

 

Photograph: Maria Ponce

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