Shahrzad “Shahr” McNaughton began her culinary career at the early age of four years old when she began learning how to use a paring knife under the close supervision of her mother.
Cooking with her mom, Shahr learned how to make Persian jeweled rice and tahdig, together they would grow and harvest herbs and vegetables. This time together with her mother helped to develop Shahr’s love of learning and fueled her culinary curiosity. Shahr participated in several summer camps at Johnson and Wales and later attended East Mecklenburg High School and their award winning culinary and hospitality arts program.
Her love of learning lead Shahr to crisscross the US, hitchhiking and hopping freight trains working at friends’ farms and learning about the process for growing fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock. She also learned to process livestock and fabricate fish right on the dock. While working with a cooperative free food kitchen (Stock Pot Kitchen), Shahr built live fire stoves and ovens out of stones, clay/mud, and metal grates. She prepared and served meals for thousands of people in the middle of national forests.
Arriving in Austin, Shahr worked at Banger’s where she continued to hone her live fire skills under the tutelage of Chef Ted Prater, fabricating, smoking, and curing meats. She learned plating and flavor building from Danny Rodriguez at Odd Duck and credits her first boss, Sarah Hamer, for teaching her management skills and how to care for her team.
Today, Shahr is the Sous Chef at Maie Day restaurant in Austin Texas where she focuses on building sustainable practices and supporting the local food economy through her interactions with local farmers and chefs.