Koren Grieveson is an Angolan-born American chef and television personality. She has gained popularity for appearing as a guest judge in a fourth-season episode of Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ in 2008 and a competitor in a season seven episode of ‘Iron Chef America’ in 2009. Born in Luanda, the capital city of Angola, Grieveson spent her early childhood all over the world before her family settled in the United States of America. As with many other prominent chefs, her first inspiration and teacher was her mother. When she was 17 years old, driven by her rebellious nature, she enlisted in the US Army and spent the following eight years serving in the military. After she was discharged, she enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. In the ensuing years, she has worked in restaurants like Aqua in San Francisco and Spruce, Blackbird, and Avec in Chicago. Sometime in 2012, she relocated to New York and eventually became the executive chef at Resto. Over the course of her career, Grieveson has won a number of accolades, including a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes.
Childhood & Early Life
Koren Grieveson was born on November 4, 1971, in Luanda, Angola. Her father worked in the poultry industry, and this required his family to be on the constant move. As a result, Grieveson and her sisters grew up in different countries around the world. She spent parts of her childhood and young adulthood in Brazil, England, and Iran before coming to US. The family eventually made their home in Glastonbury, Connecticut.
Like many of her peers, Grieveson received her first lessons in cooking from her mother. According to Grieveson, her mother was an amazing cook, and they used to eat a lot of chicken. Due to her extensive travels, she was exposed to a variety of cuisines, and it helped her in developing her own culinary perspective.
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In an interview with the ‘Food & Wine’ magazine, Grieveson admitted that her main reason for enlisting in the US Army was that she desperately wanted to drive the jeeps that the army used at the time. However, prior to her enlistment, they discarded the jeeps in favour of the Humvees. She was 17 years old when she spoke to a recruiter for the first time. Her mother warned her that she would have to give eight years of her life to the military. Grieveson apparently did not know that but was too stubborn to utilize the new information and joined anyway. Despite all this, she has stated that she enjoyed her time in the military. She never had to leave the continental US, and her eight-year tenure was quite peaceful.
After Koren Grieveson left the Army, she began working in the hospitality industry. One of her first jobs was to bring food and drinks to rock and roll bands in New York. She served some of the biggest musical groups of all time, including Lollapalooza, the Eagles, and the Rolling Stones. Later, she had a conversation with her father, who advised her to get a career.
Grieveson subsequently started attending the Culinary Institute of America in New York. It did not take her long to garner a positive reputation in the industry following her graduation. While she was in San Francisco, she worked at a now-defunct restaurant called Aqua. After she moved to Chicago, Illinois, she first cooked at Spruce. Between 1998 and 2003, she was employed as a sous chef at celebrity chef and mentor Paul Kahan’s famous restaurant Blackbird. She also worked under Kahan at Avec, a Mediterranean-themed wine bar that won a number of awards and is situated next to Blackbird, as its chef de cuisine. In 2010, she was requested to prepare food for a “healthy” kids’ fair at the White House.
During her tenure at Avec, she received a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes. In 2008, she was the Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef. In 2012, she returned to New York and spent her initial days there living out of Prune chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s home. In 2015, she became the executive chef at a Belgian restaurant named Resto. Before Grieveson, prominent chefs like Ryan Skeen, Bobby Helen, and Preston Clarke had helmed the kitchen. After she took over, she decided to bring about subtle changes while preserving the overall identity of the restaurant. Resto had accumulated fame for being a meat-centric eatery. Grieveson did not wish to change that but she did want their customers to eat there two or three times a week and not feel like they were stuffed. She made her own harissa that greatly complimented the mussels they cooked. She also used certain spices and vegetables that brought more flavours out of several dishes without making them heavy.
Grieveson left Resto in April 2016. The restaurant was shut down a short time later, in August. In October, it was relaunched as Cannibal Liquor House.
In 2012, Grieveson began a relationship with fellow chef and host of the Food Network show ‘Secrets of a Restaurant Chef,’ Anne Burrell. On 31 December, Burrell revealed in a tweet that she and Grieveson were engaged.