In 2012, Chef Nicole Pederson joined forces with restaurateur Amy Morton to open Found, a kitchen and social house, in the heart of downtown Evanston. Her Midwestern roots shine through her rustic, new American menu, showcasing pure flavors, simplicity, and seasonality in her cuisine.
Growing up in Minneapolis, Pederson was surrounded by food and cooking from an early age, but it was her first trip to France at the age of nineteen that solidified her fascination with food. Inspired by her eye-opening European experience, she enrolled in culinary school at the newly-opened Art Institute of Minneapolis. Upon graduation, Pederson returned to France to not only experience more of the amazing food and culture, but to gain solid work experience. She spent time working at Hotel Bellevue, an innovative gastronomic restaurant in the southwest of France.
With the change in season came a change in scenery, as Pederson moved to Vail, Colorado where she began working as a line cook at La Tour, a French-American restaurant in the heart of the ski village. There, she moved up the ranks to the role of Chef de Cuisine, where she spent two years running La Tour’s kitchen. Wanderlust and the desire for new challenges eventually led Pederson from Colorado to New York City, where she staged at many top restaurants in Manhattan before joining the team at the famed Gramercy Tavern.
Eventually, her Midwestern heartstrings pulled her full circle, and she moved to Chicago in 2007 to work with Karen Nicolas (named one of Food & Wine’s Top 10 Best New Chefs). She then took the post of Sous Chef at Lula Café in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, the pinnacle of the local food movement in Chicago. At Lula, she developed an increased understanding of artisanal ingredients and cooking, as well as an appreciation for the importance in working with local farmers and creating a sustainable community.
Most recently, Pederson held the post of Executive Chef at C-House Restaurant, the acclaimed restaurant from Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson. At C-House, Pederson had the privilege of assisting at the White House for the Obama Administration’s first State Dinner, preparing a meal for the first family, Prime Minister Singh of India, and 400 of their guests.
As the executive chef at Found, Pederson oversee the ever-changing flexitarian menu that has made the restaurant an Evanston hot spot. She was recently nominated for a Jean Banchet Award for “Rising Star Chef” and Food & Wine’s “People’s Nest New Chef” in the Great Lakes category. In 2014, Found was awarded with a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide.