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Women in the Arts: Meet Chef Cassidy Lewis

Updated: 6 days ago

Story and images by Edna Richardson

If you’ve had the opportunity and pleasure to sit down for a meal at Nonic’s new location at Highside Market you know how special the menu is. From the incredible Parker house rolls with miso butter, the fabulous entrees, to the show stopping Banana Bread Trifle for dessert, patrons are in for a delightful culinary experience. We sat down with Chef Cassidy Lewis to find out more about her and the journey that brought this rising star to our city. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be the head chef at Nonic!

I’m a New Orleans native who loves the story of food. I studied pastry arts at the international culinary center in NYC and my career has just been growing. Life brought me to Atlanta and I'd say love moved me to columbus. Nonic and I kinda found each other when we both needed to be found. Working with the Nonic owners to develop this new location has been wonderful.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in the culinary arts?

I'd say I was born to cook. Drawn to food at a young age I found myself learning to cook from my grandmother. Something about a long day's work and coming home to eat & share the day over a home cooked meal was therapeutic for me. I landed my first job at 14 and never looked back. I've always known the sky's the limit, I just gotta keep cookin’.

What is your favorite item on the menu? 

My Favorite dish is the fried whole snapper. It's light, refreshing, and so cultured. The fish is served whole, with the head and all, which I really think adds to the experience. The fish is marinated in a creole seasoning that we perfected in house. The fish is then deep fried and finished with a citrus vinaigrette and served over a bed of arugula. 

How would you describe your culinary style or signature dishes?

I'd definitely say my cooking style is heavily southern, but I love digging into other cultures of food. I love making classic dishes with upscale execution. I love Jamaican, Asian, and Caribbean flavors and often incorporate something from their culture in my food whether it's how it's cooked or seasoned.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a young chef, and how have you overcome them?

My biggest challenge is managing people. Different lives, attitudes, and work ethic are all things I have to think about on top of my day to day duties. I always try to manage in a way of treating others the way I want to be treated and talking to people how I’d like to be talked to. It seems to be working for me so far, these principles set a firm foundation of respect. Once you gain the kitchen's respect it makes the job 100 percent easier.

Can you walk us through your creative process when developing new recipes or menus?

My process is developing an experience. Thinking about how I want this guest to receive my idea. I start with texture, does it have crunch? Do I want it chewy? Then I look for salt and acidity. Is it there? I also add something sweet to round out the flavors, then I think of what's popular protein wise and just go from there.

What can you tell us about your team in the kitchen? 

My kitchen team is AMAZING, doing anything to help one another. All walks of life are welcome. My only requirement is hard work, and with hard work anything can be achieved

Is there anything you’d like to share with Columbusites about yourself and your culinary journey? 

I'd just like to thank the city for welcoming me, and encourage them to try something different. Nonic has a southern concept with asian flair. Some things may seem different and new but new can create great memories.

If You Go:

Nonic is located in Highside Market at 207 13th Street in Columbus, Georgia. Reservations are recommended!


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