Rising Star Chef Eric Ziebold of CityZen - Biography

Washington, DC

November 2011

In Iowa, CityZen chef Eric Ziebold grew up with a mother who followed culinary trends like embracing the microwave and cooking without salt and under the culinary confines of grueling training for his high school wrestling team. His restaurant career began in his early teens, working an after-school job at Café Maude’s with mentor chef Matt Nichols. It was there in the Midwest that Ziebold learned the fundamentals of cooking, in a calm environment, free of the stereotypical kitchen yelling.

After high school Ziebold went to the nearby University of North Iowa to major in finance but spent more time working at the restaurant than he did in class. After two years, Ziebold’s calling was clear. He left for the Culinary Institute of America, externing at Spago as chef de partie where mentor Nichols was now the executive chef. After graduation, Ziebold spent time with the team at Vidalia in DC where he worked as saucier, poissonier, and chef de partie, before heading west.

In 1996, Ziebold joined Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, where he climbed to the chef de cuisine position within three years. Ziebold stayed a total of eight years, during which he assisted Keller with the opening of Per Se in New York. While Napa provided invaluable experience with one of the best chefs in the country, and an insight into American fine dining, Ziebold missed city life. He returned to DC in 2004 to showcase his particular style of Modern American. As executive chef at CityZen, Ziebold’s creations include a Foie Gras Shabu Shabu, in which foie gras is poached tableside for a French influenced, Asian-inspired dish. In 2006, his talent earned him a StarChefs.com D.C. Rising Star Award.