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Getting Real With Celebrity Chef Lauren Lawless

The Food Network personality drops by to discuss her new ramen shop and opens up about how cooking helped her heal from past trauma and abuse
Chef Lauren Lawless on Morimoto's Sushi Master
Courtesy of Chef Lauren Lawless

Avid HHH listeners will remember a few episodes back when we announced that Ramen World, celebrity chef Lauren Lawless’ first chain restaurant, would open somewhere in San Diego. That opening is imminent, so we decided to have the cooking show star and Pacific Beach native in to tell us what’s up.

Ramen World’s opening is notable for a few reasons, but the buzziest is that it’s the country’s first serve-your-own ramen joint. The model is popular in Japan and Korea, Lawless told us during the episode. The San Diego brick-and-mortar will be the planned chain’s first location. She hopes to expand throughout California and to Arizona and eventually the east coast.

We wondered aloud what the experience would be like: Will there be chefs crafting the steaming bowls right in front of our faces? Will it be gluten-friendly? How will it be priced—by ingredient? Or by weight, like with serve-your-own fro-yo? She delivered: Yes, it will be gluten-friendly. There will be packaged ramen noodles, as well as a machine cutting and serving fresh noodles for those who’d like an upgrade. She’s still working on the pricing, but she thinks it’ll be somewhere closer to the fro-yo universe.

We get to know Lawless on a personal level, too. She shares stories of the tragic death of her parents and sister and her emancipation from her family while she was still a teenager. She tells us how she overcame trauma and abuse (and how cooking played a huge role in that) and how she was working a ho-hum sales desk job when she decided to take a shot at a cooking show audition that eventually changed her life. 

Lawless has an engaging and warm personality, and she leads with obvious confidence, which is infectious to be around. We hope you feel it through the airwaves and are similarly inspired by her story of cooking her way up through the television ranks, which is where she first met our co-host, Troy Johnson.

We also talked about the news: RoseAcre, a new multi-experience, design-forward restaurant from Paul Basile and Jules Wilson, has broken ground on Girard Street in La Jolla; OB’s The Joint spun off a new ramen spot called The Bowl on Newport Ave; and Spanish and California tapas and wine bar Finca will open on Grim Street in North Park, staffed by Juniper + Ivy’s former crew.

By Jackie Bryant

Jackie is San Diego Magazine's managing editor. Prior to that, she was a long-time freelance journalist covering cannabis, food/restaurants, travel, labor, wine, spirits, arts & culture, design, and other topics.

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