From China to Oak Brook, hotel director keeps traditional values, work ethic

  • Jiaqi Tang

    Jiaqi Tang

  • Kathy and Mark Shangraw

    Kathy and Mark Shangraw

  • Allen Ordeanu

    Allen Ordeanu

  • Dwight Squires

    Dwight Squires

  • Christine Stevens

    Christine Stevens

  • Sean Patrick Curry

    Sean Patrick Curry

  • Jamie Palmer

    Jamie Palmer

  • Jonathan Song

    Jonathan Song

  • Michael Nolfo

    Michael Nolfo

Posted10/6/2014 5:00 AM

Jiaqi Tang said her first name in Chinese means "jade." But she said she purposely went to an American dictionary and picked out an American name, Karen.

"I picked it because, in Greek, it means 'brave,'" said Tang, 32.


Brave seems appropriate for the new director of food and beverage at Le Meridien Chicago-Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook.​

About a dozen years ago, she left her native Shanghai, China, by herself and only knew fluent Chinese and Japanese.

She attended Hong Kong Polytechnic University and received a bachelor of art degree in hotel, catering and tourism management.

"I got a full ride scholarship and got the opportunity in Hong Kong to pick either IT, fashion design or hospitality," she said. "The university has the best hotel school in Asia, thus I picked to major in hospitality. No one in the family really understood," she said.

Her father was an electrician and her mother worked for a tobacco trading company.

"It was extremely competitive getting into the best high school and college due to the population," she said. "Lots of pressure being the only kid," she said. "It was 100 percent success or 100 percent failure, as my dad always joked. Yet, overall, I missed my time there tremendously. I was brought up in a traditional family that treasures lots of values, yet strict on basic principles. That's what I still live by."

Tang became the assistant restaurant manager at Jean George Restaurant at the Portman Ritz Carlton in Shanghai. She also worked at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, a MGM hotel, as general manager of the BR Prime Steakhouse. She later joined the Peninsula Chicago as director of outlets, overseeing restaurant and beverage operations. She more recently joined the Le Meridien, which opened in July following a $25 million update.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

She also had a chance to travel around America and learned how different people are in each region.

"I did all the touristy stuff, went to Florida, went to Disney World, went all over," she said. "But I also learned that you have more freedom here, and people worker harder. They give more opportunities to the people who work the hardest."

Overseeing more changes

Jim McWethy, owner of Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, said the club has gone through a major face-lift over the last two seasons. Next, he said, is a new clubhouse, which began in August with the demolition of the previous building. The new version is designed by Chicago-based Daniel Wohlfeil Design and is expected to open in June.

Marking 9 years in Bartlett

Bartlett residents Mark and Kathy Shangraw are marking nine years for their Clique Photography studio, the first business to open in the Bartlett Town Center in downtown Bartlett. Kathy is an executive director on the Bartlett Chamber of Commerce. Mark recently became a master photographer by the Professional Photographers of America.


Allen Ordeanu is the owner/operator of Kildeer's first Chick-fil-A restaurant, set to open Thursday and it's providing about 80 new jobs. ... Dwight Squires is the new North American channel sales manager of PrehKeyTec USA in Buffalo Grove. ... Christine N. Stevens is the new executive director of Just Food Initiative in Batavia.


Sean Patrick Curry is the new executive chef at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center. He is responsible for menu creation and daily culinary operations at the hotel and its restaurants, Windows and The Grille. ... Jamie K. Palmer, a licensed clinical professional counselor and mediator, has joined the staff of Novo, which has offices in Sycamore and St. Charles.

Linda Jojo is the new executive vice president and chief information officer at United Airlines, which still has some operations in Elk Grove Township. She is responsible for the development, implementation and management of technology strategy and solutions to support United's global business. ... David Schwartz is a new broker specializing in residential property sales in the Lake and Cook County areas for Century 21 Kreuser & Seiler in Libertyville.

Carolyn Dolezal will lead Bloomingdale-based PCTEL's strategy development and marketing activities as its newly-appointed vice president of strategy and chief marketing officer. She resigned from PCTEL's board of directors, where she served as compensation committee chair, in order to accept this position. ... Jessica Partyka, a nurse who lives in Lindenhurst, has received the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses in recognition for her commitment and patient centered approach to care. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America at its Midwestern Regional Medical Center said the award is part of the Daisy Foundation's program to recognize the efforts nurses perform every day.

Mike Sargent, brand manager at Kretschmar Deli in Lisle, said Kretschmar Premium Deli Meats and Cheeses, part of the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, said it will extend its relationship with Make-A-Wish through 2015. It is contributing $105,000 to the group and sponsor three individual wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. This brings the total of the company's donation to Make-A-Wish to $315,000. ... Laura Witlox is the new branch office administrator at the Crystal Lake office of financial services firm Edward Jones. ... James P. Mullaney is the new senior vice president of corporate banking in metropolitan Chicago at CIBM Bank's loan production office in Naperville. ... Paul Albright, CEO and co-founder of Captora, has been appointed to the board of directors at Aasonn LLC in Naperville and a global technology services partner to SAP SuccessFactors.

Dr. Jonathan Y. Song, who has a private practice in St. Charles and is one of three physicians at TLC Medical Group, has won multiple awards at this year's Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons meeting in Las Vegas. Song won the Carl J. Levinson Award for Best Surgical Video in the field of Gynecologic surgery, as well as the Carl J. Levinson Award for Best Overall Minimally Invasive Surgical Video. ... Michael Nolfo has been named president, and John Dobbins, is executive vice president of sales at Itasca-based Integrated Document Technologies.

•There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.