So, my series of blog articles featuring badass female chefs was very well-received last month in honor of Women’s History Month. Since I obviously didn’t get to every badass female chef in Philadelphia, I thought to myself, “Why stop now?” Let’s keep this series going for as long as I can and as I receive more information about lovely lady chefs in our amazing metropolitan area!
Just today, I received a press release about Main & Vine who recently brought Chef Karen Nicolas on board as Director of Culinary of the nearly year-old restaurant that focuses on clean, fresh, approachable cuisine in Villanova, PA.
As of this month, Chef Karen will oversee the direction of the restaurant’s kitchen development and enhance Main & Vine’s health conscience approach in order to further define the restaurant’s Northern California-inspired concept.
Nicolas comes with a very strong pedigree having held top positions in some outstanding restaurants including Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan, Aureole in Las Vegas, Equinox in Washington, DC, and Harp & Crown and Tria in Philadelphia as well as Cintron & Rose in Bala Cynwyd.
Throughout her career as an executive chef, Karen has earned both local and national accolades such as Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef in 2012, Best Chefs of America and a nominee for People’s Choice Best Chef Mid- Atlantic.
Karen holds an Associate of Occupational Studies degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University of Rhode Island where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and was recognized with a Silver Key Award of Excellence. She further advanced her education at the New School of New York City studying restaurant marketing, branding, bar management
and business plan development.
You’d think that would be enough to qualify her as “badass” in my book. But that’s just the beginning of what makes Karen so incredibly deserving of being recognized.
I reached out to Karen to learn more and what I discovered about her floored me. Certainly, being a chef is often just one aspect of who these people are. I realize their chosen career paths do not wholly define them. These people have personal lives, and other interests, passions, and pursuits, that make them remarkably more fascinating.
You see, Karen has had to deal with some very serious health issues, which took her out of commercial kitchens for a while so she could address and heal from them. She was diagnosed with class 4 lupus nephritis, an inflammatory kidney disease, and had bouts of shingles, pneumonia and sjorgens during the worst phase of it.
Over the past two years, I changed my lifestyle and diet completely. And I dove into practices I used to laugh at like yoga and meditation. I nurtured new friendships with people outside of the business for the first time in many many years.-Chef Karen Nicolas