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b i o g r a p h y

rohini dey, ph.d.
owner/founder vermilion (nyc & chicago)


A leading restaurateur, a proponent of Indian cuisine with her unique Latin twist, and an avid supporter of women – former economist and management consultant Rohini Dey comfortably straddles the worlds of business, glamour and philanthropy across the US and India.

Rohini’s career spans four phases:

  • She taught in Academia and has a Master’s degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, and a Doctorate in Management Science from the University of Texas.
  • She worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. where she managed projects in foreign investment and coauthored a book on infrastructure privatization.
  • At McKinsey & Co., Rohini’s management consulting project experience and knowledge development spanned a range of industries with a focus on growth.
  • As an Entrepreneur, Dey combines her business credentials with her passion for food by establishing two urbane restaurants in Chicago and the heart of Manhattan. She also writes on restaurants.

Rohini was inspired to break away from her management consulting career by a desire to go entrepreneurial and a conviction that Indian cuisine in the United States was either confined to stereotypes, or timid and washed out. Rohini created and developed the Vermilion indian-latin concept and cuisine. She led the spectrum of entrepreneurial activities across her NYC & Chicago entities. As founder and owner, Rohini oversees the operations and culinary evolution of her restaurants. She also writes a series on restaurants “From the Gut” for Chicago Sun Times and Huffington Post.

Since inception, Vermilion has been acclaimed as “Best New Restaurant” by Chicago Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Town & Country, USA Today, Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast, 3 stars Tribune among others. For it’s pioneering cuisine, woman-led team and Rohini’s entrepreneurial journey she and Vermilion have been profiled in The Financial Times, Time, Oprah Magazine, Fortune, FSB, Business Week, Esquire, Crain’s, Sante, Shelter, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, BBC World, CBS News, NBC, Business Today among others. Rohini was awarded the “Woman of Distinction” award by Children’s Hope, Woman of Distinction by Varli Culinary awards, and “Entrepreneur of the year – India” by the City of Chicago. Rohini was selected by the Economic Times as one of the thirteen “Overseas Indians who set to shine even more in 2013.”

As a woman restaurateur, still a rarity in this industry, Rohini is a staunch supporter of women in business and the mentorship and education of girls on a global level. She founded the Vermilion James Beard Foundation Women in Culinary Leadership Scholarship (WICL) to create women leaders in the dining industry, backed by a roster of ten celebrity chefs (CFW) “Chefs for Women.” She founded her own non-profit MSEdG-Educate Girls Globally to which all her writing proceeds go. She is also a senior donor and engaged with the American India Foundation (AIF). Dey is an active member of The Chicago Network (TCN), International Women’s Forum (IWF), the Women’s Forum of New York (WF), and 85 Broads. She actively hosts and has served as a keynote speaker for a multitude of business conferences and lifestyle events across innovation, culinary, entrepreneurship, and women in business. Rohini stays connected to academia by engaging actively with the Entrepreneurial departments of leading Business Schools (University of Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia University).

Rohini is known in the lifestyle space (50 most beautiful Chicagoans – Chicago Magazine, Beautiful Homes – Chicago Social, Entertaining with Flair – Chicago Tribune). She writes a monthly celebrity page for the Chicago Sun Times (Chicago’s leading daily). She was one of the ten Chicagoans featured on the City of Chicago’s video to welcome NATO delegates and present at the summit. On a personal level, Rohini is equally passionate about all four of her babies (both her daughters, plus both restaurants), is an avid reader, loves to dine out, enjoys travel, running, swimming (the Chicago Marathon, Half Ironman Triathlon) and has accomplished a personal dream - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

s e l e c t s p e a k i n g e n g a g e m e n t s & p r e s s

Business + Entrepreneurial

Financial Times - From McKinsey to acclaimed restaurant owner 2009
Time - India’s Spice Girls: American Culinary Stars, 2010
Chicago Sun Times (Monthly Celebrity Page)
Chicago "Welcome NATO" video Dey
Economist – co-hosted and led panel on leading Indian Women in F&B with Padma Lakshmi, Alpana Singh 2010
O Magazine – Profile on an indian woman led restaurant, 2005
Chicago Tribune - Networking key for entrepreneurial women 2009
Columbia University, GSB – Entrepreneurial networking workshop, Eugene Lang Entrepreneurial Center 2009
McKinsey & Co. - Alum Feature
McKinsey & Co. - Senior Women’s Forum Panel, 2006 (Following your Passion)
University of Chicago GSB – Led Vermilion expansion case study, fast casual format with New Venture Lab, Polsky Center, 2008
Northwestern University - Keynote Speech, Annual Business Conference, 2008 Being Entrepreneurial
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University:
Entrepreneur-in- Residence
Women’s Business Association – Raising capital entrepreneurial Panel 2006
Women Who Love their Job Panel 2007;
Kellogg Women’s Leadership Dinner, Host 2007
City of Chicago & Women’s Business Development Center – Led Retail Startup Workshop 2009
Lakeview High School - Graduation Commemoration Speech 2008, Principal for a Day, Entrepreneurial Workshops
Fortune Small BusinessKitchen Goddesses
Crain’s Business, NY – Opening a restaurant in a downturn 2008
New York Times – Launching a restaurant during a recession 2009
Crain’s Business, Chicago - How to Raise Capital
NFTE – National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, hosted workshops, judged business plans (high school) 2006-8
Indus Womens Leaders - Chapter Opening Keynote Address 2004 and Panel 2007
SAYWE –South Asian Women Entrepreneurs Panel, 2009
NETIP – Network of Indian Professionals Panel May 2006 (Going Entrepreneurial)
POWER – Women’s Networking Panel, Following your Passion, Career change and Renewal
Columbia Women Warriors festival
People (Vermilion-Economist event), 2010
McKinsey alum profile (Rohini Dey, restaurateur)
Restaurant Business (Entrepreneur of the Month, Rohini Dey), 2009
Crain's Business, NY - Restaurateur benefits from timing, Rohini Dey, Vermilion, 2010
New York Observer (Rohini Dey, business of opening Vermilion)
South Asian Women’s Conference, Keynote opening speech, An entrepreneurial journey

Lifestyle

Chicago Magazine (Rohini Dey - 50 most beautiful Chicagoans)
Style - CS Home Interiors (Rohini Dey)
Chicago Tribune - Entertaining Feature (Rohini's party)

Food

BBC World – Innovation in cuisine 2008
National Restaurant Association – Annual Convention Presentation, Innovate to Succeed - Launching a Restaurant, May 2006, 2010
NY Expo Comida Latina/All Asia Food Show – Fusing flaors for Financial success
Culinary Historians - presentation “Innovate to Succeed”
IACP International Association of Culinary Professionals – Annual convention, April 2007 “Innovation or abandoning your roots”
American India Foundation AIF - panel with Madhur Jaffrey November 2006, Indian cuisine in the US, evolution and innovation
USA Today (Vermilion's lobster portuguese top dish worldwide)
Esquire (Amazing new restaurants)
NY Post (3 shining new spots)
3 star Comfort Zone (Chicago Tribune Vetel Review)