Chef Benjamin Lambert of Restaurant Nora - Biography

Washington, DC

September 2010

Sure, there are chefs who are the children of accomplished home cooks and savvy gardeners, but Chef Benjamin Lambert’s family was on another level of dedication to the table. Growing up in northeast Ohio, foraging, hunting, and fishing were just a regular part of his life. He attributes his love affair with food to his grandparents, who were avid cooks who canned and jarred the local produce when it was in season. Today he may not have “call of the wild” style wilderness at his disposal, but he still makes his salumi at Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC in-house, proof that he has kept the lessons of his youth in this jungle of a different kind.

His journey toward the food industry began when he enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America at his mother’s suggestion. After graduating, he worked at Le Cirque 2000 under the watchful gaze of Sottha Khunn. At Union Pacific while working under Josh Dechellis, Lambert was inspired by the focus on a balance between sweet, sour, salty, and bitter in each dish. He took that lesson and replicates it to this day in each dish he creates. The tight quarters in the kitchen of his next stop, Picholine, would also be an important step. But it wasn’t really until working with Chef Jason Neroni at 71 Clinton Fresh Foods that Lambert feels he developed a professional interest in farm-to-table.

Lambert next worked at Town, his first large-scale restaurant in midtown under Geoffrey Zakarian. From New York, he moved to DC and took the position of chef de cuisine at Restaurant Nora. He turned out to be a natural fit for a restaurant that was organic and seasonal before those were buzz words. Lambert relishes the total menu development freedom that he’s earned, and the inspiration that Chef-Owner Nora Pouillon provides when they discuss the daily-changing dishes. He continues to promote, with Pouillon, the importance of local organic food in the capital city.