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Article | Mon July 31, 2017, 02:52 PM EST

  • Julia Helton

    Julia Helton

July 31, 2017 -- Having trained under many accomplished chefs during her storied 30-year career, Julia Helton, Executive Chef at Angelo’s Wine Bar, started cooking simply out of necessity. “My mother was not a very good cook but she always made sure dinners were balanced and had protein, starch and vegetable,” Helton said.

Though cooking started as a means of survival, it soon turned into a passion, with Helton realizing early on she genuinely enjoyed the labor of cooking and the testing phase of her dishes. With that in mind, she decided to forgo the traditional route of enrolling in an American college, instead spending a year in Chantilly, France studying for a baccalaureate program at Lycée Jean Rostand, an internationally recognized degree program named after French biologist and philosopher Jean Rostand. Upon returning to the States, Helton found a French ex-pat willing to mentor her in the ways of the Cordon Bleu. After years of training plus a four-year tenure under Pano Karatosis in Atlanta, Helton returned to her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee to open her own restaurant, The Family Wash in 2002. A casual neighborhood place known for its cheese spreads and shepherd’s pies, Helton sold 50,000 shepherd’s pies in four years and decided she needed to shake things up, leaving the restaurant to take on the role of Corporate Chef/Department Head of the Food Division at Provence Breads and Cafe.

While Nashville was home, it didn’t have the bustling foodie scene Helton needed to thrive. Realizing she accomplished all that she could in Nashville, Helton decided to move to a true foodie city—Chicago—where she held notable positions including General Manager at La Boulangerie and Head Chef at Village Tap. At Village Tap, Helton played an integral role in overhauling the menu from standard bar fare into the interesting cross-cultural food people wanted to eat. “The bar was changing from a local dive bar into one with an impressive craft beer selection and I wanted to bring in food that matched the quality of the beers,” said Helton. Her new menu revitalized the bar, increasing food sales by 25% in the first fiscal year.

Helton is hitting her stride at Angelo’s Wine Bar, where she has been the Executive Chef since March 2017. While the restaurant is Italian inspired, she is taking some creative liberty and elevating favorite Italian comfort foods to make exciting dishes. Already she is proving her talent with standout menu items like the Burrata Mostarda, a slightly sweet take on a typically savory appetizer that features a ball of burrata mozzarella over a fruit mostarda, topped with candied cashews and served with toasted olive oil bread, Roasted Skin on Salmon with fava bean succotash, P.E.I. Mussels in Brodo with toasted olive oil bread, Smoked Bone in Short Rib with caramelized Asian Pear next to garlic braised spinach, Lamb Lollipops with mint chimichurri, Aleppo peppers and arugula accompanied by rainbow marble potatoes and Spring Risotto, a seasonal dish with ramp pesto, morel, pea, pickled ramp and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Additionally, Helton has also gained experienced workings as a Private Chef at Kitchit, the Culinary Director of Flip Crepe, an Instructor for Viking Cooking School, as a Private Chef/Concierge at Blackbird Studios and through stages under Chef Giuseppi Tentori at Boka, Chef Graham Elliot Bowles at Graham Elliot and under Chefs Paul Kahan and Koren Grievson at Avec. She has been featured in Nashville Scene, New York Magazine, Paula Deen Magazine, The Tennessean, Chicago Tribune and was an early contestant on ABC's "The Taste", season 1.

Helton also finds time to consult for 360°restaurantsolutions regarding food and beverage, management, operations consulting and restaurant turnaround as well as run, a blog dedicated to restaurant and food photography, brand development and social media strategy.

Article | Mon July 31, 2017, 02:52 PM EST

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