There’s Something About Carrie

Michael Nagrant / 09.28.09

This month, Naha chef and co-owner Carrie Nahabedian becomes the first female inductee into the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of culinary celebs like Charlie Trotter, Rick Bayless and Jimmy Bannos. After 10 years on top, she shares how it all began. 

What’s Naha’s secret?

We’re like a pride of lions. If somebody is a weak link, we’ll strengthen them. But it’s like a herniated disc. If you can’t be fixed, you gotta go.

You once said if you could cook for anyone living or dead, it would be Babe Ruth. Why?

He ate and drank and partied like a fiend, then got up and hit ’em out of the ballpark. I love an individual who is happy to be alive.

You worked with a young Trotter and Suzy Crofton. Did you sense how successful you’d all be?

Suzy came in looking for a job and I asked if she had a resume. She rips out this piece of legal paper written front and back with every dessert she knew how to make. Charlie had incredible hands, but he was a mess on the floor. He didn’t know how to cut bread for the guests, so we brought him in to the kitchen. Did we know where we were going? No, but you could sense something in the air.

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This article first appeared in CS in a different form.