Hailing from a family of great female cooks (inspired by their French heritage), Nicki Hobson started developing her palate and comfort level in the kitchen from a very young age. As she grew older, she worked in several restaurants in her small hometown in Illinois, always in kitchen-focused positions.
Hobson turned her family passion into a profession in January 2005, when she attended Boston University’s intensive three-month culinary program (founded by Jacques Pépin and Julia Child), where she learned about classic French techniques and international cuisines. After graduating at the top of her class, she spent a year as a teaching assistant for the program.
While at Boston University, one of Hobson’s professors was Chef Jeffrey Fournier and, during her tenure as a T.A., she spent weekends working at The Metropolitan Club in Chestnut Hill, where Fournier was the chef. When he decided to open his own venture, 51 Lincoln in Newton Highlands, he hired Hobson as a full-time line cook. She spent three years there, quickly moving through the ranks to the Chef de Cuisine position.
During her time at 51 Lincoln, she developed a strong interest in ingredient-driven cuisine which led her to Florence, Italy, in Summer 2010 to study under noted Italian chef and cookbook author Benedetta Vitali for several months.
Once back stateside, Hobson met Chef Jeremy Sewall as he was in the process of opening Island Creek Oyster Bar with colleagues Garrett Harker and Skip Bennett. Sewall hired her as lead line cook at the new seafood restaurant. Fish and seafood had been her specialty at 51 Lincoln, and her innate skill helped her quickly move up to Sous Chef and then Chef de Cuisine at ICOB.
Island Creek Oyster Bar’s local, seasonal ethos has given Hobson the opportunity to truly appreciate ingredient-driven cooking and thinking creatively about making the most out of specific ingredients when in season.
When she’s not busy developing unique and refined spins on New England seafood classics at ICOB, she can be found exploring new restaurants, learning about different cooking techniques and pursuing her passion of seasonal ingredient-based cooking.