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(From left) Chef-partners Natascha Hess and Carrie Baird of the Ginger Pig. Photo by Joni Schrantz

A Culinary Partnership Blossoms at the Ginger Pig

Chefs Natascha Hess and Carrie Baird are cooking playful, Asian-inspired fare in Sunnyside.

“Owning a restaurant during a pandemic is way harder than being a divorce attorney,” quips lawyer-turned-chef Natascha Hess, who opened Berkeley’s the Ginger Pig six months ago. After four years of operating the Ginger Pig food truck and a year at a stall inside Boulder’s Rosetta Hall, Hess and partner (and former Rosetta neighbor and mentor) Carrie Baird are thrilled to spread out in their own 2,000-square-foot space. Hess’ initial Asian street food menu was based on her years in Beijing as a student and the foods her host mother, Nalu, taught her to make. Hess and Baird’s collaboration, however, has made the Ginger Pig’s current roster more playful and tastier than ever. Hess’ classic Sichuan eggplant and char siu remains on the menu, but Baird has created a killer cheeseburger fried rice, and together they’ve added a version of Vietnamese mì xào toi, in which noodles, shrimp, and broccoli are bathed in butter, fish sauce, and gobs of garlic. It’s all delicious fun, anchored by a serious goal. Says Hess: “Our hope for 2021 is to still be here in 2022.”

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