Bride & Groom MOM Subscribe

Find Local

What Made Me: Nora Pouillon, Owner of Restaurant Nora

The Vienna-born owner of Restaurant Nora—the first certified organic eatery in the US—on clean eating, taking a big risk, and the cooking school that started it all.

Photograph by Douglas Sonders.

The book: When I first moved here from Europe in 1965, a friend of mine had a book by Elizabeth David, French Provincial Cooking. I started reading it and couldn’t put it down. It really gave you a feeling of how food should taste and how important ingredients are. I would just pick something out of the book and cook it for our friends and my husband. That’s how I learned.

The early job: We bought a six-bedroom house on Mintwood Place [in DC’s Adams Morgan] that was originally a rooming house. The kitchen was big—I had enough room for nine chairs. My students watched me cook and asked me questions, and I gave them wine. That was my first step from cooking at home to becoming a professional.

The turning point: In the mid-’70s, one of my students asked if I would be interested in opening a restaurant at the Tabard Inn. This was also the time when my husband and I decided to split up. First I said, “I can’t do it,” but then I thought: I have to. It was an enormous learning curve. Now I wonder how I had the courage.

The words of wisdom: My father always said, “Health is the most important thing you have in life. No money in the world can buy it.” When people tell me, “Organic is so expensive,” I always say that I prefer to spend money on food than on the doctor.

This article appears in the February 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular on Washingtonian

9 Businesses You Remember If You Grew Up in Washington

How David Gregory Lost His Job

Photos: What Life Was Like in DC During the Great Depression

Local TV Commercials You Remember If You Grew Up in Washington

Can't-Miss Food Events This Week: Taste of DC, Cap City Oktoberfest

This Insanely Cool Georgetown House Is on Sale for $10 Million

Metro Can Blame Bikeshare for Lost Passengers, but Bikeshare Is Just Going to Get Bigger.

Metro's Ridership Is Still Falling, and Fare Hikes Might Be the Only Way to Keep Its Revenue Up

Where to Find the Best Pizzas Around DC