Over the course of eight weeks, The Women of Food visited seven cities, and invited thirteen chefs, collaborators, and purveyors to participate in this female-led movement. Together, they used the platform to talk about what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated industry; they gave speeches on building teams, creating safe spaces for creative work, and equipping the next generation with the tools and confidence to succeed.
And yet, the true connective force at each dinner was that each woman had a story to tell. These are the chefs who shaped The Women of Food, and these are their stories.
It’s a serendipitous union in Lake View, at Debbie Gold’s Tied House restaurant, where three diverse chefs have come together to create something special.
The chef and her collaborators, chefs Carrie Nahabedian (Brindille, NAHA) and Jennifer Kim (Passerotto), craft courses for the night meant to complement and represent the chefs’ individual styles. Nahabedian’s cuisine leans French, while Kim’s draws inspiration from Korean cuisine, and Gold’s style is decidedly New American. The menu they’ve developed is a harmonious combination of cuisines from around the globe, and demonstrates how each can work beautifully in tandem, something Gold attributes to the exposure that’s inherited from other cultures through travel: “[You’re] always learning something, bringing something back, play[ing] with a new ingredient or a recipe,” she says. “You get caught up in studying and researching [a place], its products, and how they do things. It can’t help but influence the food that’s made.”
Diners fill the vibrant space, slowly taking their seats in leather booths and emerald-colored bar stools. Kim, a new friend and collaborator of Gold’s, kicks off the night with soft-shell crab tacos. The perilla leaves pressed into her blue corn tortillas lend a grassy flavor to each bite of kimchi and fried crustacean. Then arrives Nahabedian’s spring-themed bouillabaisse, savory with rock shrimp, gooseneck barnacles, fiddlehead fern, and polenta. Gold and Nahabedian have known each other for over 20 years, and have cooked together repeatedly. Gold says, of their partnership: “I wanted to highlight her, as well, because I think she’s been in the business longer than I have…being able to bring someone new to my [creative process], and bring Carrie, is a fun mix.”
The opportunity to sample creations from three distinct talents is not lost on the crowd; “Chicago is very neighborhood-oriented,” Gold explains. And so, in putting Kim and Nahabedian in front of a Lake View audience, it’s significant that they’re able to “highlight what they do best.”
The night can’t end without something sweet, and Gold flexes her background in pastry to deliver an impressive confection bar. There are lilac macarons filled with chocolate, jelly squares doused in powdered sugar, and cakey cocoa doughnuts dripping with blackberry icing. As the treats make their way around the dining room, each guest becomes a kid in a candy shop.