The Generous and Unstoppable Raegan Steinberg
You may know Raegan Steinberg from the successful Arthurs Nosh Bar on Notre Dame Street West. In honour of the opening of her brand-new counter, Dirty Greens, in the beautiful new Cathcart food court, we’re taking a look at this bubbly, extremely talented, generous, and ambitious chef with no shortage of plans! Known for her delicious Jewish-inspired menu at Arthurs, she brings a breath of fresh air to Cathcart with her delicious, healthy, and gourmet salad recipes at Dirty Greens.
Raegan Steinberg is a proud Montrealer, born and raised in the city. She is a fourth generation Montrealer, and she lets her origins shine through her delicious addresses! Raegan is not only a master chef, she is also a master of management, as she juggles her newborn baby, Arthurs Nosh Bar, her new counter at Cathcart, Dirty Greens, and to top it all off, a fried chicken counter, Bucky Roosters, which recently opened in Saint Henri.
Raegan Steinberg’s beginnings
From a young age, Raegan developed a taste for the good things in life thanks to her father, who loved good food. She says her father never treated her like other children with special menus, but rather introduced her to fine dining before she was even 10 years old: “If my father was making lobster or other dishes for more developed palates, there was no other menu for me, I was eating the same thing as the adults. It’s a mind opener. I remember going to L’Express when I was only 6 years old…”
If the bubbly young girl didn’t understand then why she had to eat the same dishes as the adults, she is now thanking her father for passing on this passion for cooking! The restaurant business has always been present in her life and she quickly developed an interest in the field. “I didn’t know right away that I was going to work in the industry,” says Raegan.
When it came time to choose her studies, she decided to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University without really knowing what she would do with her life. During her studies, her father became seriously ill and his condition worsened while she wondered about her professional future. With her father was in a critical condition, Raegan decided to leave the city, urged by her father, to pursue professional training in cooking. Her first choice was New York City, but she finally decided to pursue culinary training at the Art Institute of Vancouver. That same year her father passed away and Raegan suddenly found herself completely lost without her influential father figure. She found true meaning in cooking and decided to pursue a career in the restaurant business in memory of her father, who had passed on this same passion to her.
She was 24 years old at the time and decided to further her training in the kitchen. While still in school in Vancouver, Raegan began her first real kitchen experience at the Blue Water Café. She was often told that she didn’t have what it takes to work in the kitchen with disparaging comments such as “brat-girl” and other derogatory comments. Driven by her passion, she never gave up.
The restaurant industry in Montreal
At the end of her studies, she jokingly admits that she came back to Montreal mainly for a love story. A story that didn’t work out in the end, but that allowed her to meet her future life and stage partner, Alexandre Cohen.
Back in the city, she wanted to both put her learning into practice and continue learning, and she aimed high with some very specific establishments in mind. “As long as I wanted to come back to Montreal and start a career in the kitchen, I wanted to work with the best. I decided to apply to Au Pied de Cochon and Joe Beef.” These two Montreal institutions were incredible sources of learning for her.
She was not accepted at Au Pied de Cochon, where she was told that it was not a job for her and that she did not have the background to work in the kitchen. She didn’t let herself be discouraged by this, however, and went knocking on the door of Joe Beef.
The Joe Beef team took her onboard and gave her a chance. Highly motivated to learn, she alternated shifts at Joe Beef, the former McKiernan next door (now Liverpool House) and then Liverpool House for almost four years. “I was having crazy weeks, learning so much, but by the end I was exhausted, almost burned out; that’s when I thought I needed to make some decisions and change some things.”
Chef Raegan Steinberg refers to her years in these establishments as a unique experience that would strongly influence her career as a chef-owner. She mentions Fred Morin, François Côté, and Marc-Olivier Frappier as inspiring and influential figures during her years with the Joe Beef family.
A new adventure for Raegan Steinberg
In 2015, Raegan and Alex began their adventure together with their own catering service: Back of House Catering. Their company was a huge success from the start and led to their first restaurant a year later!
(A little anecdote: the founder of this site was working for Back of House Catering when she started Tastet. That’s how she fell in love with Raegan, who as a boss was determined, organized, dynamic and a fighter; a savvy businesswoman!)
In 2016, Arthurs Nosh Bar was born, quickly distinguishing itself as a Montreal brunch staple on Notre-Dame Street West. In tribute to her late father, the restaurant bears his name and offers Jewish cuisine reinvented with Moroccan influences. She refers to this new experience as a whole new approach to dining. Four years later, the attraction for Nosh Bar remains the same; not a weekend goes by without a line of regulars from the neighbourhood or Montrealers from across town.
Raegan and Alexandre learned how to run a restaurant together and soon found a balance between family life and business. Raegan became pregnant and had her first child while still juggling all of her projects. For a long time the couple wondered about the next step in their career. It was after almost a year of reflection that Raegan embarked on the Cathcart adventure with the A5 group.
“Alex [Alexandre Besnard, partner at A5] had been pushing me to open something in their new Place Ville-Marie food court project for about a year. I was really reluctant at first, but I ended up saying yes.” She adds that she and her husband always told themselves they would never open a second Arthurs; “An institution can’t stay an institution if you open a second location.”
After winning over the St. Henri crowd, the chef is now conquering downtown with a gourmet salad concept. Having worked for a while at Mandy’s with sisters Rebecca and Mandy Wolfe during her studies, the chef is diversifying her activities and offering a healthy fast food formula. She mentions her experience at Mandy’s without any real link between her years in the Mimi et Coco branch, at the time located on Sherbrooke Street, and her opening of a salad bar at the Cathcart. “I worked with the Wolfe sisters in the early days of the Mandy’s era, there really weren’t that many of us, it was just Rebecca, Mandy, another waitress and me.” She talks about her experience working alongside the Wolfe sisters with great enthusiasm, but makes it clear that Dirty Greens did not come from her experience working alongside them.
Dirty Greens is a restaurant that serves delicious salads and healthy comfort food in a great space for downtown workers or tourists. Raegan says she has always had a penchant for fresh produce. Summer or winter, she has always wanted to include as much freshness as possible on her plates; “It’s simple and delicious… and so easy to eat anywhere.” Having tried them, we can guarantee you that these aren’t just salads, rather they’re the perfect meeting of deliciousness and freshness. Raegan Steinberg brings a breath of fresh air to the Cathcart; come to enjoy a beautiful, fresh, and colourful plate in the busyness of downtown.
And for the future?
With a successful restaurant in Saint-Henri, a newborn, and a counter downtown, one would have thought that Raegan would stop there. They would be wrong, this woman is unstoppable! She tells us that she is working on a new address with her husband and in collaboration with The LetterBet—Evalinas. It’s already on our list of restaurants to try. With plans to open in early spring, the new project takes a very different direction from Arthurs and the Cathcart. Raegan whets our appetites by telling us about a menu with Middle Eastern and South American influences. Her husband points out, “We would never be where we are and all the things that are happening to us would never have happened without Raegan, she is a true force of nature.”
With all that Raegan Steinberg has accomplished in the past few years—with her work ethic, resilience, vision, and passion—we are sure that Arthurs will continue to shine, that Dirty Greens will be a monster success, and that Evalinas will be an exceptional project in St. Henri. We can also assume that her child will enjoy lobster in honour of his grandfather. Thank you Raegan for everything! We wish you all the success!
Written by Inès Duguen
Photography by Cathcart