Glenview-born chef thinks small at The Noodle’s new Wilmette spot
Updated: January 23, 2013 9:06AM
WILMETTE — There’s this new, coveted spot in Wilmette smack dab at the corner of 12th Street and Central Avenue with a great backdrop of the Wilmette Village Hall and its flagpole.
This must-try spot is The Noodle Cafe’s new outpost, The Noodle Small Plates & Market, located at 1156 Central Ave. Open since October, it’s an expansion of the 22-year-old cafe that dishes up tapas-style Italian food, as well as offering preprepared pastas, sauces and other Noodle Cafe staples for takeout. The new restaurant offers a handful of tables and a more relaxed couch area for you to leisurely enjoy the small plates prepared by Molly McGrath, raised in Glenview.
McGrath, who wears a funky Chicago map-inspired pendant on a neck chain, naturally gravitated back from the West Coast to her North Shore hometown (with her husband Thomas McGrath). Today, she’s The Noodle Small Plates and Market’s chef and general manager.
Q: So you’re from the North Shore and grew up in Glenview?
A: I did grow up in Glenview (smiles). I wasa Titan, I went to Glenbrook South (1998 graduate) and then I just came right down the road and went to Northwestern University, so I have a long history on the North Shore.
Q: Why is Wilmette a great place to be a chef?
A: Wilmette is a great place to be a chef mainly because of the people here.
Q: So how did your chef’s hat find a home in Wilmette?
A: After I graduated college, I did marketing for a few years and then I sort of made the switch over to restaurants. I worked in fine dining here in the city, a couple different places. And then I went out east to the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. From there, I was recruited out to a restaurant company in California. So I moved out to San Francisco. (She spent almost four years in restaurant consulting.) And then Rob Garrison (Wilmette resident and The Noodle Café owner) called me out of the blue and said this was an opportunity he was looking to start, and wanted me to be a part of it. So I came back (big smile).
Q: What was it like growing up in Glenview?
A: It was great growing up in Glenview. I have two older sisters, and you know, lots of kids on the block, and a big backyard. Looking back, it really feels like, you know, I got to have that little slice of Americana. (I) really enjoyed going to Glenbrook South High School, great high school. I was in sports, activities and the V show (Variety Show) and all of these great things that are offered because it’s a great school. It’s (Glenview) just always been a really great place to call home.
Q: You have a preference to champion Italian cuisine. What’s your philosophy as chef?
A: Gosh, no one’s ever asked me that. … I think deliciousness first is my philosophy. It’s great if you can find good local products, sustainable products. It’s great to be innovative in food but if it’s not delicious, none of that matters. Not a bit.