“Sweet Baby Ray”
Dave Raymond, aka Sweet Baby Ray, and Cathy (his wonderful wife) are lifelong Chicagoans with more than 29 passionate years of the barbecue biz behind them. As a youngster growing up on Chicago’s West Side (Best Side) Dave learned early on that life is not always fair or easy—a lesson that helped to define the friend, businessman, and person that he is today. Capitalizing on early success at Mike Royko’s Ribfest in Chicago, 1982, Dave and life-long friend, Mike O’Brien built Sweet Baby Ray’s into what today is the best-selling barbecue sauce in the country. Now a multi-faceted business operation, Sweet Baby Ray’s boasts two restaurants, a full-service Elk Grove Village location run with Mike and a barbecue “joint” in Wood Dale run with nephew, Duce, as well as two premier catering companies. Dave currently resides in Wood Dale, close to relatives and life-long friends, and spends much of his spare time with the barbecue community, still lovin’ the ‘que crew as much as ever.
Nancy Irlbeck is our fearless leader. Only the 2nd employee to join the Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce team, Nancy worked as the bookkeeper for 10 years, then, with her go-get-‘em attitude and rock-hard work ethic, she jumped right in as the office manager when the company expanded into restaurants and catering. Before long, she was promoted to President. With her experience and her background, growing up in Wisconsin in a family that owned their own catering business for 30 years, it’s no surprise that she’s got the know-how to keep us on our toes. Plus she gardens. Go Nancy.
Recommends: Jamaican Jerk Chicken & True Cuisine Bistro Salad
Chef Dylan Lipe
Director of Food & Beverage Operations
Chef Dylan brings the magic. With a Culinary Arts Degree from Rend Lake College and a vast array of culinary exploration under his belt, including extensive national and international travel, it’s his exceptional ability and endless zeal for food that turn our great ingredients into our spectacular dishes. Previously a Chef Consultant for Southern Illinois University’s Entrepreneurship Network, consultant for the Illinois Wine Industry, co-owner and operator of Minor League Concessions & Catering, catering banquets & “weddings in paradise” specialist for Frenchman’s Reef Resort in St. Thomas, Executive Chef of Southern Illinois University’s Rent One Park, and caterer for headlining acts such as NFL Opening Day (Minnesota Vikings vs. Atlanta Falcons), MLB World Series (Denver, Colorado), Dancing with the Stars (2007), Elton John, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and the entire artist line-up for the Houston Rodeo and Concert Series (2008), he brings experience to the table. And being that his favorite dish to cook is “anything that makes people: mmm mmm good”—to say we’re ecstatic to welcome him into the family– is an understatement.
Larry (Duce) Raymond
Duce was destined for the food industry. Son of Chef Larry Raymond and nephew of Dave Raymond, the creators of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, Chef Duce grew up in and around restaurants, and began working in the food and service industry at the age of 12. Realizing his passion, Duce later attended Kendall College Culinary School where he graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts, and was a member of Kendall College’s first graduating class to have completed a bachelor’s degree program in culinary study. Now, pouring his zeal into the Sweet Baby Ray’s & True Cuisine family, Duce manages and creates deliciousness on a daily basis. His specialties include Southern and Central American cuisine and, of course, barbecue– which he has perfected at such recognized events and venues as the Taste of Chicago, the Naperville Ribfest, and the Wrigley Field rooftops. Duce and Dave are KCBS Barbecue Competition teammates, where they earn their share of awards—and we’re sure there’ll be more trophies in the future! Today Duce, his wife, Sarah, and their daughter Madeline, reside close by in Itasca.
Bob Nykaza, our go-to guy for just about, well, everything makes our world go ‘round and makes it go ‘round smoothly. An integral part of our team, and one of the nicest guys we know, Bob is a logistics extraordinaire. His 25 years experience in the Security Industry including seven years as Vice President of Technical Services, impressive knack for planning, and unwavering commitment to service and quality show in each and every event. And we can thank him, our construction manager, for our new kitchen—on time, on budget, and very, very cool.
Recommends: Baby Back Ribs & Barbecue Shrimp
Director of Sales, ext. 213
Bob Krause is a genuine guy with smarts, charisma and a whole ‘lotta drive. Hailing from a large family and a small community, Bob learned the art of event planning at an early age. After attending Bradley University and accumulating extensive sales and sales management experience from his family business, Bob joined the Sweet Baby Ray’s & True Cuisine team—quickly becoming Sales Manager. While proudly leading a sales team that boasts over 75 years cumulative experience, Bob still hones his own culinary and event-planning prowess— heading a competition barbecue team, cooking and planning for family parties, and always working on a new rub or sauce. We love Bob, and couldn’t ask for better.
Recommends: Santa Maria style Tri-tip & True Cuisine Artichoke Parmesan Crostini
Wedding & Event Consultant, ext. 215
Maria Collins lights up our team– with spirit, positivity, and downright skill. After graduating from Johnson & Wales University with degrees in both Culinary Arts and Food Service Entrepreneurship, Maria has expanded her hospitality and food service industry experience by managing a banquet facility in Louisiana, serving as executive chef for a catering company and café in the Boston area, and, lucky for us, currently consulting for our Sweet Baby Ray’s & True Cuisine family. Her energy, and ability to create innovative menus specific to each client and event make her events shine. And as a bonus, she’s an excellent baker. Which is really something we can get behind.
Recommends: Oreo Cheesecake Lollipops
Wedding & Event Consultant, ext. 207
Bio. Coming Soon…
Catering & Event Consultant, ext. 208
Donna Stevens brings the fun. Originally hired by Sweet Baby Ray when she was only 16 years old, Donna, after discovering her love of sales and helping the Sweet Baby Ray’s team with the restaurant project when it first opened in 2005, has become a valued catering consultant for the Sweet Baby Ray’s & True Cuisine family. Never ceasing to be bright and down-to-earth, Donna successfully combines her love for making people happy with her passion for providing great food and service. Her family, which takes center-stage in her life, keeps her busy and happy. As does the hobby she shares with all of us—cooking and eating!
Recommends: Grilled & Chilled Vegetables
Catering & Event Consultant, ext. 212
Bio. Coming Soon…
Catering & Event Consultant, ext. 209
Bio. Coming Soon…
Catering & Event Coordinator and
Staffing Coordinator for Serviced Events, ext. 205
Bio. Coming Soon…
Catering & Event Coordinator, ext. 214
Bio. Coming Soon…