As the executive pastry chef at Vie in Western Springs, IL, and Perennial Virant in Chicago’s Lincoln Park—the restaurants of nationally acclaimed Chef Paul Virant—Elissa Narow combines old-school baking with hints of modern technique, leaving guests a touch sweeter than when they arrived. As her philosophy focuses on using fresh, seasonal ingredients, Narow’s dessert menus change often and feature simple yet elegant desserts. She diversifies her menus and techniques for each restaurant, presenting a more rustic dessert list at Perennial Virant and creating a more refined, composed dessert menu at Vie. “While staying rooted in the basics, I have always been drawn to the creative side of baking,” Narow says. “At both restaurants, I take advantage of the freedom I have to create something new or reinvent a classic.”
Before working with Virant, the award-winning pastry chef spent two years sharing her talents in the classroom as a baking and pastry instructor at the Illinois Institute for Art in Chicago. Prior to her teaching career, Narow worked in some of Chicago’s most acclaimed kitchens. At Blackbird with Chef Paul Kahan, Narow honed her focus on highlighting the best of the season while frequently changing the dessert list to complement the modern American cuisine. In 2004, while working at both Blackbird and Avec, Narow received the “Rising Star Pastry Chef of the Year” at the Jean Banchet Awards. Narow then joined Chef Shawn McClain in opening Custom House, at which her award-winning creations continued to evolve and dazzle guests. When McClain opened Spring, Narow created a seasonal menu reflective of the restaurant’s Asian cuisine. In 2007, the Jean Banchet Awards again honored Narow as “Celebrity Pastry Chef.”
Prior to pursuing her culinary career and attending the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Chicago), the New York native graduated with a business degree from Washington University in St. Louis.