Northshore Magazine

Northshore November 2019

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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Pop-Up for a couple years now offering complex, deeply flavored Vietnamese dishes in preparation for her brick and mortar spot. The new menu offers a couple of dishes that might be familiar to the pop-up's fans, like a rustic dish of egg noodles and beef, alongside a handful of small plates and other noodle dishes, in a moody urban space with hand-painted walls that started attracting attention when she began renovations. Watching the restaurant take shape over the summer, friendly neighbors would stop in to ask when she was opening. "[People on the North Shore] want something different," she says. "They want to find their new favorite. Contrary to popular belief, trends move just as fast here as they do in the city." Clairemarie Bergstrom and Kate Holowchik Ledger Restaurant and Bar, Salem Sometimes the pastry team at Ledger looks like they're chasing each other around the kitchen as they circle the workbench monitoring the progress of the dough for the fresh-baked hamburger buns or ensuring everything is set for weekend waffles and pancakes, not to mention making all the parts for Ledger's incredibly delicious, complex desserts. "Kate and I do four, five, six projects, all at once," says Clairemarie Bergstrom, who serves as sous chef under Kate Holowchik. "It's constant communication when we're here together." That's because at a restaurant like Ledger, where absolutely everything is made from scratch, the pastry team is responsible for much more than sweets. "There are so many facets here—plated desserts, brunch, all the bread and popovers; it takes a lot of time," Holowchik says. Sometimes the duo needs to log 16 hours a day, which isn't that unusual in restaurants. "It doesn't bother me, as long as the work is gratifying," notes Holowchik. Her mom, though, still sometimes scolds her for working too hard. Her work ethic shouldn't be a surprise. Holowchik has been playing with food since she was four years old, trying with Fisher Price toys to recreate dishes she'd 98 seen on PBS shows like "Yan Can Cook" and Julia Child's "The French Chef." And her childhood is where she still draws inspiration, as she recalls making popcorn balls with her grandmother or candy with her mom during the holidays (they still whip up candy together every year to give out to the mailman, the hairdresser, and the vet). "People have gotten so used to the highfalutin-ness of certain restaurants, and dessert has become kind of unapproachable," Holowchik says. "You can get this gorgeous thing on a plate and just not know what it is.… So I want to offer something that draws on nostalgia—flavors that people can remember from their childhood—but do it in a more sophisticated manner." This is how she comes up with things diners never knew they wanted, like Ritz Cracker ice cream. Holowchik's latest flavor, infused with that iconic after-school snack, is perfect for fall: buttery, salty, sweet, and totally addictive. Jenn Normant Sea Level, Newburyport Nerves of steel would be a good descriptor for Jenn Normant, as anyone who watched the chef compete on two seasons of hot-headed chef Gordon Ramsay's reality TV competition "Hell's Kitchen" knows. In fact, she was studying for a completely different high-stress career in criminal justice when she realized she was enjoying her side hustle, decorating Jean Normant of Sea Level PHOTOGRAPHS BY ELISE SINAGRA

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