August Foodie: Natalie Wall

A woman in a chef’s apron sips coffee against a black and white geometric wall.
Natalie Wall of Rize

Tony Valainis

It was almost two years ago when the doors opened to Rize, the first brunch-centric eatery in the portfolio of Indy’s Cunningham Restaurant Group. From day one, customers started filling the small space for chef Natalie Wall’s eclectic menu. Cold-smoked salmon toast, egg tarts, tuna poke bowls, and chia-seed pudding proved a draw for everyone from fitness fiends to fashion bloggers to corporate lunchers staying at the attached Ironworks Hotel.

This fall, the chef will expand the Rize brand to Fishers, where she’ll run the kitchen at a second (and three-times-bigger) location in hotly anticipated retail development The Yard. She’s ready. “Change really excites me,” says Wall. “How can I push myself further?”

[pullquote align=”left” caption=”Natalie Wall”]“Change really excites me. How can I push myself further?”[/pullquote]At Indiana University, the Indianapolis native changed majors between business, nutrition, and art. “But the whole time, I was cooking,” she says, “putting off the inevitable.” After culinary school at Ivy Tech, she worked on the line at Osteria Pronto, Northside Social, Livery, and Vida; spent two years at the lauded Proof on Main in Louisville; and learned to butcher and make salami and sausages at Smoking Goose Meatery. From her time at Livery and Vida, she knew that Cunningham offers both creative freedom and the logistical support of a restaurant group. “There’s a foundation that allows us to focus on being good chefs,” Wall says. “I want my food to be craveable. I want [regulars] to come back and have it over and over and over.”

One of Natalie Wall’s favorite things? This breakfast strata recipe that’s perfect for a house full of guests.