Rising Star Pastry Chef Natalie Saben of One Off Hospitality - Biography

Chicago, IL

September 2021

Hailing from the southern suburbs of Chicago, Natalie Saben set her sights on a culinary career early on. As she hosted at local restaurants, her fascination with what was happening behind the scenes inspired her to transition to the back of house. With a push from Chef Steve Chiappetti, she decided to forgo a formal culinary education and started working on the line at Cafe le Coq. After a stage at Graham Elliot, Saben was hired on and spent three years working through every station to become tournant. She then moved to Graham Elliot Bistro as opening sous chef and helped start the pastry program. In 2014, Chef Curtis Duffy offered her the role of pastry sous chef at the three-Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant, Grace. With Duffy’s guidance and encouragement, Saben brought her skills to a new level, incorporating her own savory accents and becoming the pastry chef in 2015.

When Grace closed in late 2017, Saben joined Underscore Hospitality and opened Pacific Standard Time the following spring. There, she and the team focused on seasonal ingredients with a California influence—earning her a nomination for 2019 Jean Banchet Rising Pastry Chef of the Year. With the closure of PST in fall 2020, Saben transitioned the space to avec River North before becoming the pastry chef for One Off Hospitality as a whole, including avec River North, avec West Loop, bar avec, The Publican, and Publican Quality Meats. After working in pastry for the better part of a decade, her love for savory flavors still endures with her use of ingredients like baharat, coriander, and black pepper.