Nicole Pederson

Nicole Pederson has an impressive resumé: New York’s Gramercy Tavern, Lula Cafe, and most recently C-House, the gig she left to be executive chef at Amy Morton’s Found (1631 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-868-8945).

Did you always want to be a chef?
In high school, all those tests came back that I should be a baker. I had no inclination. My mom grew up on a farm, and I loved to cook, but it didn’t seem like something you would do for a career.

So what happened?
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 should go to culinary school.

Did you major in baking?
No. I loved cooking on the line, breaking down the proteins. I enjoyed the bakery and pastry, but it didn’t speak to me the same way.

What’s on your menu at Found?
At Lula, I learned about working with whole animals: charcuterie, sausages. We have a Wood Stone oven. Whole roasted fish and bone-in roasted rib eye, but also a focus on vegetables and grains. I feel they get ignored.

Who’s making the desserts?
Me. I’m into pound cakes and pots de crème lately.


Photograph: Anna Knott