Interview with Chicago Rising Star Pastry Chef Anna Posey of The Publican

by Caroline Hatchett
May 2015

Caroline Hatchett: How did you first get into the industry?
Anna Posey:
I landed an internship at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia after getting my arts degree; it’s where I first had a hands-on experience of being artistic with food. After that, I moved on to the French Pastry School in Chicago and interned with Patrick Fahy at Blackbird and at The Publican, doing savory. I didn’t want to do savory, but there were no other positions [at Publican], so I worked my way from oyster, to garde manger, to fry, and then to grill. It was such a confidence building experience, I was just this little girl and people were mean at first, then they started calling me the grill queen. I went on to the Everest to reinvest myself back into French pastry. Four months later I was offered the job at Publican.

CH: Who are your mentors?
Patrick [Fahy], will always be my number one. He was the first chef I worked with in Chicago, where I was like oh my god. Dana [Cree], she’s been so helpful and supportive of my ideas and how to get them across. Stephanie Prida, I staged with her at L20.

CH: What’s the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
I’ve gone through a lot of challenges, and being at Publican is always a challenge. But I have the best job in the world. I can do creatively what I want to do, so I challenge myself all the time. I want every menu to be better than the last and push myself to change the menu every month. I want to keep it fresh; savory menu is changed frequently and I want the desserts to be seamless. It is hard to do if you don't test it. You learn quickly if you're fit for this restaurant. Fine dining is its own beast, but there are lots of people who can't handle Publican.

CH: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
I love the chef community. For my whole life, it has been art, art, and art. But the culinary world is so fresh. Either you succeed because you're good at what you do, or you don't. I have lots of friends in the industry. Farmers are good to me as well. We always go out for dinner or for drinks. I get to do lots of events through The Publican. I get involved in some charity works as well, like Pilot Light and Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

CH: What’s your five year plan?
My husband [David Posey] and I are opening our own restaurant in the next year. His food was amazing at Blackbird, but we want to do something more relaxed. It’s an amazing creative opportunity. I’ve got the ideas, and he’s got the technique. We have investors, we’re buying the space, and it’s a bit more spacious than Blackbird. We want our price point to be a bit lower with a $100 tasting menu.