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Forough Vakili – a tasty bite at Le Bon Nosh

By: Reading Time: 4 Minutes

At Le Bon Nosh in Atlanta, Georgia, Forough Vakili focuses on local and seasonal produce. The Iranian-born chemical engineer tells KTCHNrebel how she discovered her love for the art of cooking and about her favorite ingredients.

Good food and warm hospitality are the motto of Forough Vakili at Le Bon Nosh in Atlanta, Georgia. Since Le Bon Nosh means “tasty bite,” the name says it all. Born in Iran, she grew up on a farm. “Eating regionally and seasonally has always been an important part of my life. One of the reasons I became a chef was to bring people closer to a simpler and healthier way of eating,” says Forough Vakili, who relocated to the USA at 16 – a move that was a real culture shock, especially in culinary terms.

Food for body and soul

At Le Bon Nosh today, the owner and head chef wants to combine good food and healthy eating. “Our goal is to enrich the body and soul with high-quality, local food and a great experience.” But it’s not just the dishes that the 40-year-old pours her love and passion into – you can also get a feel for this with one peek at Le Bon Nosh’s interior. Located in the middle of The Irby housing development in Buckhead, it blends both café and restaurant, including a wine bar in a very unique way.


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The concept is community and coming together. “I want you to come in and really feel like you’re dining at my own dining room table,” the chef explains. A look around the restaurant confirms this aspiration. After all, next to the communal oak tables and the guest room with a wine bar, you are looking directly at the highlight: the open kitchen with a special stove in the middle. Although the restaurant is made up of two levels totalling nearly 6,000 square feet, the light that falls through the floor-to-ceiling windows still creates a homey ambience.

“That’s what we could achieve with our design. It feels very homey,” says the restaurant manager. With its barista station and bakery showcase, the market area and its wide range of delicacies also invite visitors to linger a while longer.

Forough Vakili: Vegetables in the spotlight

Le Bon Nosh is all about “the beauty of simple food and a meal in tune with the seasons with French-inspired dishes inspired by my time in Paris,” says the chef, who was herself a student at the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. “I use as few ingredients as possible, available regionally and seasonally. My salad dressings are one of my trademarks, as are my pesto or ragout sauces.”


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A signature dish that numerous guests rave about, for example, is the kale caesar salad – a combo of local kale, tossed in tahini and garnished with chickpeas and cranberries. Taking a look at the menu before you go doesn’t do much good, because you won’t find anything there. All dishes are adjusted according to availability and season. However, the focus is mainly on vegetarian dishes – whether French lentil salad or a pumpkin caponata tartine. “I think we don’t put vegetables in the spotlight often enough, they’re always considered more of a sideshow,” says Vakili.

Shaped by her childhood, the creative chef continues to attach great importance to the quality and origin of the ingredients she uses for her dishes. These come from regional farms, such as Riverview Farms and goat cheese from Decimal Place Farm. This high-end selection, coupled with Vakili’s passion and dedication, makes a visit to La Bon Nosh a true culinary experience. “My inspirations come mostly from my travels but also from my visits to the farmer’s market here. Some of my favorite ingredients are bitter leaf salads, coriander, eggplants, tomatoes or a nice fish filet,” explains the chef. Her own favorite food changes depending on the season. “One of my favorite dishes that I also cook for my guests is Boeuf Bourguignon,” reveals the imaginative chef.

Forough Vakili

Image: Le Bon Nosh

From chemical engineer to restaurant owner

As is the case with many top chefs, the young Forough Vakilis did not know what career she wanted to pursue at first. After completing her technical studies at Georgia Tec, she worked as a chemical engineer for two years. But this didn’t end up being her lifelong dream. “I wanted to learn to cook, to do something creative!” says Vakili. To put things more precisely, she attended Le Cordon Bleu Paris cooking school in 2011 and then worked at a two-Michelin star restaurant in Brittany. In 2012, she returned to Atlanta where she hosted pop-up dinners. She did so successfully, attracting the attention of the carmaker Porsche, which hired her as a catering consultant at its North American headquarters.

Vakili also worked with food management firm Bon Appétit, overseeing three business units, including a fine-dining restaurant, an employee cafeteria and the catering division. But even these activities did not completely fulfill the imaginative and tough chef and the wish to create something of her own finally pushed her to concentrate on developing the concept of Le Bon Nosh from 2017 onwards. It finally opened its doors in 2021.


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Humanity also works in professional kitchens

“I believe in making the kitchen a pleasant place to work and I want to be a good teacher”, says Forough Vakili. “We are all human and will always make mistakes. But as long as we learn from them and improve, that’s fine.” The likeable owner has a daughter and a young son – is it possible to balance family and career, and if so, how? “In the past, I often struggled with balancing work and private life. But I don’t look for balance anymore and focus more on moments. Wherever I can take a moment to involve my children or husband in my daily routine, I do so.” Her tip for gastronomy colleagues: “Don’t be so hard on yourself and try to make the most of what you can do.”

One of her latest projects also shows that locally produced food is a matter close to Fakili’s heart. In May 2023, the innovative businesswoman launched a weekly delivery service with the local farm Hickory Hill. The aim is to promote a community that is committed to sustainability and gives back through access to high-quality, locally produced food and education programs. You can order online on the restaurant’s website. The main product – the organic bag – contains at least eight different locally produced vegetables and fruits depending on the season. Other grab-and-go products from Le Bon Nosh, as well as red, white or sparkling wine, can also be added to complete the meal.


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A special extra also awaits customers: To make weekly mealtimes simpler and more nutritious, each bag comes with a QR code for a recipe that includes this week’s products along with Le Bon Nosh staples. So everything is thought of and now all you have to do is enjoy your meal!

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