My F&W
quick save (...)

Nicole Pederson

Chef Nicole Pederson
Photo © Galdones Photography

Restaurant: Found (Read a review)

Location: Evanston, IL

Why She's Amazing: Because she's updating familiar comfort foods with global flavors (like harissa, za'atar and garam masala), and the results are incredibly addictive.

Culinary School: The Art Institutes International Minnesota (Minneapolis)

Background: C-House, Lula Café (Chicago); Gramercy Tavern (New York City)

Quintessential Dish: Roast squash and brussels sprouts with house-made harissa, cilantro and pepitas

How She Got into Cooking: "When I was 19, I took a trip to France and stayed with a friend's family. They really opened my eyes to food. I came home to Minnesota and got a job in a little French restaurant waiting tables, but I spent every spare minute in the kitchen asking questions. The chef there told me, 'I don't know why you don't go to culinary school; you spend all day in the back watching the guys, you know every ingredient in every dish.'"

What She Craves When She's Not in the Kitchen: "I have an obsession with Asian food."

On Helping Cook President Obama's First State Dinner: "It was amazing. It was like being in someone's house, which was a bit weird. It's a professional kitchen but with armed guards with machine guns walking around."

You might also like
The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.

Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world's most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 19-21.