Chef Sarah Hernandez-Bravo Champions Fun Regional Cuisine in Chicago’s Corporate Dining Scene

Chef Sarah Hernandez-Bravo, a passionate culinary professional and a proud graduate of Johnson and Wales, is setting the stage for a revolution in corporate dining just outside of Chicago. With her deep-rooted love for nostalgia and the culinary arts, Sarah embraces the flavors of the Midwest, bringing them straight to the table with a creative twist that’s uniquely Chicago. She leads a small but mighty team at Thrive Café, located within a Corporate Center, home to many innovative companies. Sarah is proud to fuel such a diverse and interesting crowd.

Sarah is acutely aware of the culinary duality that her patrons enjoy—a desire for fun, indulgent dishes that capture the essence of Chicago’s rich food scene, balanced with an increasing demand for health-conscious options. “It’s about striking the right balance for the range of generations that come in to dine with us every day,” Sarah notes.

Sarah’s menus are carefully crafted to celebrate this balance. For every hearty, indulgent dish, there’s a healthy, fresh alternative to ensure that all dining preferences are met with equal enthusiasm and creativity.

This spring and summer, Sarah’s focus is sharply set on leveraging local festivals and sports events to inspire her fun menu creations. With the Crosstown Classic—a spirited baseball rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox—fast approaching, she’s designing dishes that are perfect for enjoying outdoors on the new patio of the corporate café. “We’re planning to have a grill set up outside so that our guests can enjoy freshly grilled dishes while they watch the game outdoors provided by our building,” Sarah explains.

Grilled Salmon Salad

Sarah’s menu is a celebration of the Midwestern bounty. During the spring and summer months, when local produce is at its peak, Sarah incorporates ingredients like sweet corn, fresh berries, and root vegetables into her menu offerings. This season, she is particularly excited about introducing a Strawberry Salmon Panzanella Salad—a vibrant dish featuring fresh local grape tomatoes, grilled corn, avocado, and local feta and goat cheeses, all tossed with spring mix and drizzled with a goat cheese vinaigrette.


Every other week, the café features a Pop-Up Station at the salad bar, focusing on fresh, local produce available from nearby markets. As for the current offerings, while hydro-grown lettuces, herbs, and assorted mushrooms dominate, Sarah is gearing up to introduce a wider array of hyper-local produce sourced through partnerships with local producers like Testa Produce.

Integrating special events and wellness programs into the café’s offerings is another way Sarah keeps her menu dynamic and engaging. She’s currently running the BeWell Program and integrates the SoGood! initiative, focusing on seasonal, appealing dishes at the café’s Entrée/Expo Stations.

Sarah’s proactive engagement with her team and the incorporation of their ideas and experiences help create a menu that’s exciting and invites conversation among guests. “We are kiosk-based, so direct communication with our customers is crucial. Our food needs to make a statement, and so do we,” she affirms. Like these crepes featuring local strawberries, a fun sweet treat that guests keep requesting!

Local Strawberry Crepes

The corporate dining experience in Chicago is transforming into something truly special—where each meal can help power your day, or help you relax into a comfortable, familiar nostalgic experience. Thank you, Sarah!