New York transplant and Culinary Institute of America grad Katie Reicher is the executive chef of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. Upon opening in 1979, Greens Restaurant is credited with changing the “image and appreciation of vegetarian cooking in America.” Learn about Katie Reicher…
Hometown: New City, NY
First job: My first-ever job was working retail at Modell’s Sporting Goods. My first food industry job was as a baker at Hudson Valley Cakery. This is the job that made me realize that I’d like to work with food as a career.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: As a NY transplant, I am eternally amazed by California and spend most of my time outside hiking and exploring when I’m not at the restaurant. My fiancé, Jesse, and I spend all of our time together when we can. I also enjoy time at home crocheting, cooking and playing with my cat, Genji.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Being promoted to executive chef at Greens at just 26 years old was the proudest moment of my career. I started at Greens in 2015 when I was 21 as an extern from the Culinary Institute of America. I returned to NY to finish school, and then moved back to San Francisco on my graduation day to work at Greens as a line cook. Since then, I worked my way up through the ranks of the restaurant until being named executive chef in June 2020. It was the most exhilarating moment to know that my hard work had paid off and that I would lead the restaurant that I grew up in and love so dearly.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: I didn’t always know I would pursue a career as a chef. I first went to college at Cornell University as a nutrition major with the intention of pursuing a medical track. I realized after some time that it wasn’t the right direction for me, so I dropped out and took some time to figure it out. It wasn’t until I started working at a bakery that I realized that a career in the food industry was right for me. Making that transition from academics to following my dreams in San Francisco was incredibly difficult and took a lot of planning, but it was worth it!
Someone who inspires you and why: My mom is my hero. She had me standing on a chair by the stove when I was just 2 years old so I could help her cook. She has an epic garden, so I grew up learning how to grow food and cook with the seasons. Along with the seasons, my mom loves to honor traditions, so my brother and I could bet on peach picking in August, apple picking in September, pierogi making before Easter and Christmas cookies in December. She (and both of my grandmothers) are the reasons I am the chef that I am today.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Be tenacious, stay curious and know your value. The restaurant industry is incredibly competitive, and life isn’t always fair. But if you work hard and keep an open mind, you will find a great workplace to call home – one that values you and supports your growth and learning as a chef.
Favorite quote: “It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I was actually quite the athlete as a kid. I played varsity volleyball, basketball and was the stroke seat for two boats on my crew team. I traveled all over the country for basketball, my main sport for 11 years, but ultimately went to Cornell to row.
What makes someone fabulous: Hard work and kindness are two qualities that I feel make someone truly fabulous. One is not quite the same without the other.
Photo credit: Nader Khouri