Introducing Chef Jessica Lewis

Chef Jessica Lewis

Originally from Allentown Pennsylvania, Jessica Lewis grew up as a goal-setting and driven swimmer within the state. Graduating from the University of Virginia,  she majored in economics and was a nationally recognized full-scholarship swimmer. Lewis set out on a career in finance, working in asset management at Vanguard in Philadelphia. She realized this was not the path she saw for herself and left her 9-5 job behind. Never looking back, she packed up and moved to New York City to take a chance on a dream and enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education.

The thrill of the NYC restaurant scene excited her, so she stuck around for three years working her way through the city. During her time in New York, she took another chance on her dream by auditioning and being accepted to compete on Hell's Kitchen's Season 11. Winning showdowns and charging forward, she was eventually eliminated for "a lack of passion and emotion."  This has since been her driving force to prove Gordon Ramsey wrong! 

She moved to Pittsburgh to run the catering program at Heinz Field for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After that, she signed on to open The Commoner at The Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh. Then came along the next opportunity; to run her own restaurant concept inside Smallman Galley in The Strip District, thus Carota Cafe was born. A locally sourced menu that gave a spotlight to seasonal vegetables and focusing on local farms. After this successful 18-month incubation period at the Galley, Jessica and her partner, Chef Dennis Marron, dove into opening two of the newest restaurants in Pittsburgh: Merchant Oyster Co. and or, The Whale.

Jessica is a lifelong athlete, collegiate swimmer and avid runner. She understands the importance of eating healthy and practicing an active lifestyle. Her passion to fuel her inner-terrain and the love food in general, drives her to provide food that is nourishing, and warming to the soul.  She is competing in her first triathlon in August.

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