I met Abra when I was volunteering at a benefit. Abra had donated hors d'ouerves from Stock Cafe, where she's the executive chef. We chatted a bit as she prepared the trays of smoked whitefish on rye crackers, gourgères, and homemade pâté. Later, I got to sample what she'd brought. It was all delicious, and it all featured Midwestern ingredients.
Talking with Abra for GLY&M, I found out that highlighting what makes Midwestern food and culinary traditions special is a big part of Abra's mission as a chef. She wants to make food that's "of a place." This dovetails with her other mission as a chef: to reduce food waste. Stock Cafe is located inside Local Foods, a locally-focused public market. We talked about using slightly imperfect (but still delicious) produce from the grocery store in the cafe's food helps reduce food waste and let's the cooks exercise their creativity every day. I even got to sample a noodle kugel with roasted vegetables as we talked. Yum! Read on to learn more about Abra's approach to cooking professionally and at home, how she's developed as a chef, and being the boss at her restaurant.