Kristen Essig was born and raised in Florida. After graduating from the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in 1998, Kristen worked with Chef Frank Lee of Slightly North of Broad and Chef Louis Osteen of Louis’ Charleston Grill. Twenty years ago, Kristen made New Orleans her home, kicking off her Crescent City culinary career with Chef Emeril Lagasse at Emeril’s, followed by a four-year turn with Chef and Mentor Anne Kearney at the famed New Orleans Restaurant, Peristyle. She joined the Crescent City Farmers Market as market manager where she cultivated strong relationships with local farmers, producers and vendors.
She’s been a Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine “Chef to Watch” (2005), a sought-after private chef, and in April, 2013 Kristen returned full time to the restaurant kitchens. Kristen proudly joined the Coquette family in the fall of 2016 as a co-chef and partner with her love, Michael Stoltzfus. Since then she’s been named one of Times Picayune’s Chefs to Watch (2014), one of Coastal Living Magazines “5 Coastal Chefs to Watch” (2015), nominated as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “The People’s Best New Chef” (2015), and a two time finalist for Best Chef South by the James Beard Association (2018 & 2019). Kristen and Michael are currently working on their second restaurant, Thalia; a neighborhood restaurant in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, opening spring of 2019.