chef-name: Nitzi Rabin

Chillingsworth was established by friends of culinary great James Beard in 1956 and it was the only restaurant where Beard cooked professionally (per Peter Kump, founder of the James Beard Foundation).

Although Nitzi Rabin earned a graduate degree in business from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth, he’s no stranger to restaurants. He came to Chillingsworth as a waiter while still attending college, then returned as an apprentice chef. When the owner died, Nitzi and his wife Patricia bought the restaurant. Under Rabin’s direction, the restaurant has been elevated to what one critic calls “Cultural Shrine” status. It has been rated number one by Zagat’s Boston survey, and one of the top forty restaurants in the nation by Gault Millau guide. This is high praise for chef owners Pat and Nitzi Rabin, who had no formal culinary training prior to buying the restaurant.

Tired of a “close enough” approach to food, the Rabins took a six month winter course at Cordon Bleu and also trained at La Varenne in Paris. This classical French training became the foundation for Rabin’s signature dishes, like crab cakes with lemon chive sour cream and golden caviar. Pat Rabin received pastry training and became an expert, creating the much loved desserts.

As Great Chefs pick all their chefs through peers, many of the chefs already filmed by the TV crew recommended Rabin as a candidate for their Great Chefs of the East series. So on a cool October day in 1992, the crew showed up to shoot Chef Nitzi preparing a lobster entrée and a plum soufflé dessert. Later, they taped him preparing oysters and asparagus for a one hour PBS special titled Great Chefs Appetizers.

The Rabin’s usually close the restaurant in the fall and travel to Europe or Mexico, but in 1993 they opened Chill’s Catering in Vail, Colorado which they operate during the winter months while away from the Cape.