Employee Spotlight on Tom Kokinakos- Team member since 2004
A man of many talents, Tom, a native Chicagoan has come to be the Senior Salas Manager at Inspired Catering & Events in a rather circuitous route of following his dreams. Born & raised on Chicago’s south side, Tom is the son of Greek immigrants who came from Sparta to the windy city via Toronto in the mid 1960’s.
Brought up with traditional Greek values in the Orthodox faith in addition to the many years of Greek school on Saturday mornings as a child, Tom can speak his native language fluently. Although Tom’s parents are deceased, he is very close to his older brother and his nephew who live nearby in northwest Indiana.
As a teenager at St. Laurence High School in Burbank, Tom excelled in math and thought he was destined for a career in accounting. While attending classes at Moraine Valley Community College, Tom seemed disillusioned with that potential career choice and felt that it would not be very interesting or stimulating.
It was then with a prompting from his cousin Kathy, that Tom’s focus shifted to alternate career plans within the entertainment industry. Tom enrolled at Columbia College and was able to secure an internship with Q101 Radio station. The station recognized Tom’s tenacity and work-ethic and offered him a job in the promotions department.
That position quickly transitioned into a side-kick character “Stalker Boy”, an on-air personality on the ‘Lance & Stoley’ Q101 Morning Show. This was right up Tom’s alley and he got to be up close and personal with touring bands coming through Chicago on their concert stops.
On one memorable day, rocker Ed Kowalczyk from the band LIVE was set to be interviewed in the studio but had overslept. Tom was sent to his hotel room where he found him naked and raced him back to the station in his bathrobe and slippers! Regretfully, after two years the show was cancelled and Tom found work as a bartender & server for George Jewell.
It could be said at that time the proverbial dye was cast and Tom’s destiny was awaiting him in the catering world. During his eight years at Jewell, Tom wore many hats including: Staffing manager & HR director, where he wrote & implemented the company training program.
Realizing that event planning provided both a challenging and fast-paced environment along with creativity and design, Tom answered the calling and would make his mark in the Chicago Event Planning industry. Initially hired for staffing and event execution for Phil Stefani’s Signature Events, Tom has seen the company grow and transitione through a rebranding into Inspired Catering & Events by Karen and Gina Stefani.
Tom is fiercely loyal and says the driving factor behind that is his admiration for Karen. He takes pride in all his events and is certainly a trusted partner to his many esteemed clients. Among events he holds close to his heart are DIFFA whose mission is to fight AIDS and raise money through its fundraising efforts, Old Town Art Fair which is a benchmark, rooted deep as one of Chicago’s favorite traditions, and Safe Humane Chicago which helps to rehabilitate court case dogs which is a cause Tom has long supported.
In the rare moments of free time, Tom enjoys traveling, watching sports, going to concerts and spending time with his girlfriend Jenny & her dog, Justice.