At the ripe age of 24, Joanna Stachon has already ascended the ranks in the kitchen to become executive chef at Ada Street. Wise beyond her years, she sources ingredients and cooks with the diligence and thoughtfulness of someone who’s been in the industry for decades. “I love the idea of using local product. I like knowing where it’s coming from, who the farmer is that’s growing it, and even the delivery driver who’s bringing the product,” Stachon explains. “There is something beautiful about the idea that even in this huge city we live in, I could still have a relationship with local farms. I feel like I owe it to my guests to include them as much as possible in that goal.”
It’s that heartfelt philosophy that has guided her not only at Ada Street, but through her earliest culinary experiences. “Cooking is something I have always had a huge interest in,” she says, citing her Eastern European heritage as one of the most important pillars in her cooking background. “I fell head over heels in love with it when I finally got the opportunity to get into the kitchen. It hasn’t stopped since.”
That passion drove the native of Chicago’s South Side to pursue a career in the kitchen, the place where she felt most at home. She worked in Greek diners near her home before eventually attending culinary school at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago. She went on to do butchery work at Chicago’s Publican Quality Meats before coming onboard as sous chef when Ada Street opened in 2012. One of her proudest career accomplishments, she says, is her impressive appointment to executive chef before turning 25.
Stachon resides in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the city and experiencing all that it has to offer. “We have such an amazing food and art scene here,” she says. “I love that I can be a part of it.”