Chef Nicole Pederson exiting Found Kitchen, The Barn

Saturday, 02 December 2017, 09:59:36 PM. The original chef of Found Kitchen & Social House and The Barn, both in Evanston, is leaving.

Nicole Pederson, founding chef of 5-year-old Found Kitchen and Social House and 1-year-old The Barn, both in Evanston, is leaving.

“After a phenomenal, phenomenal five-year run together — well, six, counting the year before we opened — Nicole and I are parting ways,” said Amy Morton, who owns both restaurants. “Suffice to say we’ve had a great run, and the time has come for a change.”

Pederson and Morton say the departure is mutual, and amicable.

Pederson will remain at the helm of both restaurants for a few weeks, Morton said. The staff members at Found and Barn got the news last night.

“I’m not making any big announcement about who’s taking over,” Morton said. “We’re taking this next period of time to let things unfold; I want to be sure that our next five years will be great, too.”

The “found” in the restaurant’s name was meant to evoke themes of self-discovery and personal reinvention. Five years ago, those were self-referential terms for Morton; now they apply to the chef and the restaurant.

“Change can be scary, but it’s still necessary, and creates a ton of possibilities,” Morton said.

As to Pederson’s next move, that’s anybody’s guess, including hers.

“I don’t have any set-in-stone, definite plans,” Pederson said. “I was just ready for a change. It was great, I’ve learned a ton and changed a lot, and sometimes it’s great leaving on top.

“I’m ready for a new challenge,” she said. “And I just bought a house, so I’m not going anywhere.”

pvettel@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @PhilVettel

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