Originally from Pennsylvania, Ben Lustbader moved to Washington D.C. after graduating with a degree in political science and Judaic studies to pursue an internship at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It wasn’t until he took a kitchen job in D.C. that he realized his true passion was cooking. Ben worked his way up to one of the best restaurant in D.C., Michel Richard Citronelle, where he learned that food could be as beautiful as it is delicious.
A brief but formidable stint working with Chef Ashley Christensen in Raleigh taught Ben a great deal about respecting seasonality. In 2007, Ben moved to Chicago to begin what would become an illustrious culinary career. He worked his way through the kitchens of North Pond and then Lula Café, where he met his now-business partner, Chef Jason Vincent.
The two chefs immediately connected and together in 2009, opened Nightwood, Lula Café’s sister restaurant. For five years, the duo shared the kitchen at the acclaimed Pilsen restaurant, gaining acclaim from the likes of Michelin’s Bib Gourmand and a glowing review in the Chicago Tribune. Ben moved on in 2014 to pursue other culinary experiences, including learning butchery at Publican Quality Meats and farming at City Farm.
In 2015, Ben teamed up with Jason and Josh Perlman (general manager) to open Giant in Chicago’s Logan Square, which launched in July 2016. Together in the kitchen, Ben and Jason create an ever-changing menu featuring unpretentious, Midwestern fare.