2018 StarChefs D.C.-Chesapeake Rising Star Chef Carlos Raba of Clavel

2018 StarChefs D.C.-Chesapeake Rising Star Chef Carlos Raba of Clavel
November 2018

Carlos Raba was born and raised in the Mexican state of Sinaloa by his mother and her four sisters. He learned to make tortillas by hand in his uncle’s restaurant and picked up classic North Mexican recipes like cochinita pibil and lengua from his aunts and grandmother. Raba’s mother was a journalist who was critical of Mexican politicians, so fearing for their lives, she sought asylum and moved the family to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. when Raba was 17.

After he graduated from high school, Raba attended business school for a year and then began working in grocery stores. He started at the Whole Foods in Kentlands, Maryland, trying his hand at different roles—butcher, fishmonger, cheesemonger, and eventually store manager. He then moved to Giant Foods and worked at various locations for five years. Raba tired of the corporate life, and his business partner Lane Harland convinced him to use his creativity and family recipes to open Clavel in Baltimore in 2015. Raba serves the same shrimp ceviche recipe that his grandmother taught him when he was 6 years old, along with other Sinaloan specialties in a relaxed, communal setting. In 2017, Raba was named “Best Chef ” by Baltimore’s City Paper.