Chicago restaurant investor Bianca Stam had too much on her plate to join her boyfriend, eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Anton Ohno, in Pyeongchang as he provides Olympics commentary for NBC.
“I had some work to do. I had some campaign work here so I didn’t actually fly out there. Now he’s going to be home really soon and (the Olympics is) so far,” Stam said by phone from their home in Los Angeles. “I was like, you know what? You have fun, I’ll just stay here.”
Stam, 27, was born in Chicago and grew up in Lincoln Park until about age 4, when she moved to Hong Kong. She said she came back to Illinois to study communication at Millikin University in downstate Decatur because the university offered her a good financial package.
She returned to Hong Kong after graduation in 2012 and has bounced between Hong Kong and Los Angeles working as an actress and a model. She produced last year’s short documentary “The Beauty Machine,” about women working in the media and entertainment industry in Asia.
She also found time to invest in Bar Roma, an Italian restaurant that opened in Andersonville in 2016. Julia Zhu, a former commercial banker and one-time partner at Oysy Sushi, conceived of the spot with help from her companion, Gioco co-owner Howard Davis.
“I just decided that that was something I wanted to do, and thankfully so, because it’s been thriving,” Stam said.
Stam said she has not yet been to the restaurant but has plans to visit in the spring. She often posts photos of menu items on her Instagram.
She has settled in Los Angeles with Ohno, 35, and their dog, Sesame Mochi Ohno. The couple met at an art gallery about two years ago and friendship progressed into a romantic relationship, Stam said.
She laughed when asked if she’s jealous that the retired speed skater is at the Olympics and she is not. “I think he's jealous of me because the weather's perfect here and he's out there freezing,” she said.