Headed by new female talent in the kitchen, Olivero enjoys a sizzling start
Wilmington can add one more notch in the really, really good restaurant column with the arrival of Olivero, a Spanish- and Italian-influenced restaurant on the corner of Third and Castle streets. At the helm of the restaurant’s culinary team is LAUREN KRALL IVEY, co-executive chef, alongside owner and founder SUNNY GERHART, a nominee for Best Chef Southeast in the 2022 James Beard Awards and owner of St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar in downtown Raleigh.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to provide something different to this community,” Krall Ivey says. “Coming together and writing a menu with Sunny and learning each other’s styles has been a great experience, but now I’m just ready to fire up that grill and be up and running.”
After studying to get her teaching degree in college, Krall Ivey ultimately decided that wasn’t the best route for her and started at an office job selling skincare. In her free time, though, she’d throw dinner parties and devour cooking magazines. Once she realized the kitchen was far more suitable to her than office life, she started culinary school in Boulder, Colorado. She continued throwing those dinner parties, serving, “whatever I was learning in culinary school at the time. I’d ride my bike to school and then stop at the grocery store right next to it afterward to get ingredients,” she says. “There was definitely a lot of chicken and zucchini in the beginning, but I’ve also always been into making pasta.”
The good news is – for both Krall Ivey and all future patrons of Olivero – there are plenty of pasta options on the new restaurant’s menu. From lasagna layered with octopus bolognese and chorizo to mafaldine served with sweet corn and North Carolina crab, Krall Ivey gets to flex her pasta-making skills to the delight of Wilmington’s taste buds.
Prior to Olivero, Krall Ivey cut her teeth at well-renowned restaurants in Raleigh, like Poole’s Diner and Death & Taxes, both owned by James Beard winner Ashley Christensen. “Poole’s was my first real kitchen,” Krall Ivey says. “And Ashley was a name I knew even in culinary school, so it was a big deal to get to work with her. I was super intimidated, just by her level of knowledge and skill and I had no idea what I was doing then, but everyone was very kind and welcoming and that kitchen taught me well.”
On her way to becoming a name future culinary students will know and revere, Krall Ivey knows she’s had a unique experience as a woman in this field of work. Working first for Christensen and then another female chef during a stint back in Denver, Krall Ivey acknowledges it’s “super rare” to find that amount of female leadership in most kitchens. “We need more women in kitchens, not just to check some specific gender box, but because the way we think is different, the way we cook is different, the way we interact with people is different,” she says. “It’s nice to have a mix. Regardless of your gender or how you identify, that mixture of people creates a more supportive environment and team.”
Olivero is open for business Tuesday-Saturday at 522 South 3rd Street. Book your reservation at oliveroilm.com.
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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