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Meet CJ Jacobson

CJ Jacobson’s life experiences converged into a passion for and dedication to cooking. His time as a professional volleyball player and extensive travels sparked an interest in food. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, he worked as a celebrity private chef before joining Bravo’s Top Chef Season 10. Today, he acts as the Chef Partner of Ema and Aba, where he curates menus that pay homage to his roots in California, focusing on light, Mediterranean-style cooking.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of CJ Jacobson

Headshot of the chef

CJ Jacobson talks about is his path to becoming a chef over Mediterranean fare with a California twist.

CJ Jacobson chats about transitioning from professional volleyball player to chef, his brief stint in film school, and making a gorgeous beet salad that dances on your palette.

About Ema

Chef CJ Jacobson cooks up fresh, vibrant Mediterranean fare with a Californian flair in this chic River North restaurant. Ema’s signature dishes include Spicy Hummus, House-Made Stracciatella with Vine-Ripened Tomatoes, and Lamb Kefta Kebabs—beautifully plated and made to share!

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Isaac Toups dishes on his southern roots and whips up a mean venison with Cajun flair.

Brother Luck brings the sweet heat with his blue cornbread and shares how restaurants saved his life.

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