Founders

Founded in 2011 by Christine Lee and Brad Newman, Ruca Foods serves delicious culinary experiences rooted in the familial heritage of food.

Christine Lee
Brad Newman

Christine Lee

With an eye for detail and love of familial food traditions, Christine Lee masterfully marries her passion for cooking with community engagement and development. Lee has successfully overseen the organization and production of sustainable food systems. Having spearheaded the growth of Charlie Trotter Foods and later Whole Foods Midwest Region’s commissary, Lee leverages her experience and expertise to impact her community.

From expertly navigating the diverse acreage of Illinois’ family farm community, where she established a cottage food business and nascent farm, to developing new recipes and concepts for Ruca Restaurants, Lee is constantly seeking new ways to share the bounty of  local growers and ranchers with the public..

Brad Newman

Chef Brad Newman engages the natural world with ingenuity to transform the gifts of nature into culinary culture. His approach to food offers benefits beyond nutrition, capturing the senses with explosive flavours using simple techniques. 

Newman served as restaurant chef at the Drake Hotel and Café des Architectes, Sofitel. He has experience cooking locally and internationally having worked at La Terazza del Casino Madrid, Spain and  high end restaurants such as Charlie Trotter’s and Tru. Newman felt the pull away from fancy dining. Inspired by the culture and vibrancy of Chicago families, Newman decided to carve out a niche in the Edgewater neighborhood making everything from cookies to carnitas. His spin on cuisine makes diverse, delicious, dishes approachable to adults and children alike.

Our  Team

Our kitchen is based in the craft of cooking and not prestige. We recruit individuals who are in love with the ritual of food and expose them to the journey of cuisine from root to plate. Together we expand on adaptive culinary traditions based in long standing practices to provide a personalized experience for all our guests. Our team is constantly training and acquiring new skills to provide high quality dishes.

We focus on cultivating an environment of stewardship and curiosity to empower our team members beyond merely following a recipe.

Hannah Egger
Manager
Nate Marsh
Chef Manager
Jesse Lee
Chef
Efren Barajas
Chef

Hannah Egger

Meet our General Manager Hannah. Hannah first found her love for hospitality through her grandfather. No one would enter his home without being asked if they’d like to enjoy a libation with him, even kids (which entailed cream soda and maraschino cherries with a paper straw). He instilled in her a love to serve others as she watched the joy it gave him.

Hannah has been in the service industry for over ten years, starting her career in a small, local restaurant while she lived in Alaska. Since her time there, she’s taken on roles from line cook and dishwasher to bartender and manager, at many establishments throughout Wisconsin and Chicago. With her expertise being behind the bar, she has competed in prominent national competitions, including SpeedRack which raises funds for breast cancer research. Hannah also holds a BS in Human Biology with an emphasis in Nutrition.

Nate Marsh

Inspired by the late Anthony Bourdain, Chef Nate Marsh has an insatiable desire to learn and found a lifetime of culinary knowledge to learn from Christine Lee and Brad Newman when he started with Ruca in 2018. An obsession with the booming Pittsburgh food scene growing up pushed Nate to pursue a career in food working for Red Apron and The Partisan in Washington, DC, as well as GT Fish & Oyster and the Michelen-starred Everest in Chicago.

Jesse

Led by a constant love of food, built by step stools and Sunday breakfast, Jesse was always drawn to the kitchen. After studying business and studio art in college, he found restaurants as the perfect canvas to express his eye for composition with an interest in food's ability to provide comfort and create community.

Team Member 4

Bacon ipsum dolor amet hamburger beef ribs doner drumstick, brisket ribeye jowl shoulder cow pork belly bresaola. Leberkas porchetta cow swine pork belly, landjaeger short loin tongue cupim shank andouille. Flank meatloaf ribeye meatball ham pig short loin porchetta shank. Tenderloin burgdoggen brisket hamburger ground round jerky beef ribs pastrami.

Strip steak filet mignon hamburger shank, turkey landjaeger chicken jowl chislic picanha meatloaf andouille corned beef pastrami. Doner swine pastrami pork belly chislic tail. Meatball beef salami, bacon frankfurter ball tip turkey biltong picanha leberkas landjaeger pork chuck capicola.