chef's bio

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Chef Kristen Essig was born and raised in Florida.  From an early age working in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother a passion for good food and cooking developed.  Kristen began working in kitchens in her home town of Seminole, Florida and after graduating from high school she went directly to Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina.  She graduated from the Johnson & Wales < namespace="" prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" xml="true">Culinary School in 1998, Suma Cum Laude.  While in Culinary school Kristen worked for honorable chefs, Chef Frank Lee of Slightly North of Broad and Chef Louis Osteen of Louis’ Charleston Grill.


Kristen has called New Orleans, Louisiana her home for the past 8 years after being introduced to New Orleans by Chef Emeril Lagasse in 1999, after a chance meeting at a “Salute To Southern Chefs” Benefit.  Kristen worked for the famous Chef’s flagship restaurant Emeril’s for her first year in New Orleans.  < namespace="" prefix="o" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xml="true">


After leaving Emeril’s Kristen went on to work with Chef and Mentor Anne Kearney.  Kristen worked with Chef Kearney for 5 years at the famed New Orleans Restaurant, Peristyle.  Kristen has had the privilege of  working with many chefs in the New Orleans area including Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona Restaurant, Chef Corbin Evans of Lulu’s, and Chef Greg Sonnier of Gabrielle.


Kristen went on to work with local farmers and purveyors at the Crescent City Farmers Market as market manager.  Kristen developed close bonds and formed lasting relationships with her vendors and supports them as often as she can, utilizing their local produce and goods in her cooking. 


In 2003 Kristen went on to become the executive chef for a local New Orleans cooking school where she developed many classes focused on “easy entertaining”, as well as running the schools catering operation and creating many signature menus that she has brought with her to NOLA Bean.


In 2005 Kristen was nominated by Louisiana magazine, Louisiana Cookin, as one of the five “Chefs to Watch” in Louisiana.  She has most recently taken part in a James Beard dinner with the four other 2005 chef nominees in July of 2006


NOLA Bean is now Kristen's sole project where she can concentrate on the needs of her New Orleans families with her catering, personal chef services, GOODIES! delivery, in-home cooking lessons and demonstrations throughout the city.