2021 Denver Food + Wine Festival

Explore The CHEFS, BAKERS + beverage pros

Natascha Hess
Ginger Pig

Chef Natascha Hess was born and raised in Connecticut. She played hockey her entire life, going on to play at the University of Wisconsin. She double majored in Chinese and International Relations, graduating in 2001; go Badgers! For three summers during college, Natascha lived in China with a host family, where she fell in love with Chinese cooking and Asian street food, with her host mother’s home cooking being the inspiration for some of Ginger Pig’s signature dishes.

After graduation, Natascha moved to Denver with her husband, Steve, to help launch Fox Sports Rocky Mountain television station as a production assistant. After two years, she returned to school at the University of Denver, this time to study law. She graduated in 2006 and went on to work as an associate attorney and eventually start her own firm. But in 2014, she came to the realization that life was too short to not pursue her passion for food.

She turned her sights to fulfilling her dreams of recreating the culinary experiences that were shared with her during her time in China. Those dreams grew from seed to fruit after a dinner at the chef’s counter at Brazen, where Natascha met Carrie Baird. After a casual conversation, Natascha mentioned she dreamt of opening a food truck offering the same food she had during her travels. Carrie offered her a position to train on the spot.

After learning the basics and skills under the Brazen team, Natascha opened The Ginger Pig Food Truck in Boulder County in the summer of 2016, which led to opening an inaugural stall in Rosetta Hall, Boulder’s first food hall, in 2019. There, she continued to grow her business while staging and learning from different chefs across the country.

Taking that success and knowledge, Natascha rolled into opening a brick-and-mortar Ginger Pig restaurant in the Berkeley neighborhood of Denver in 2020. Since then, the Ginger Pig has offered authentic, family-style, pan-Asian cuisine in a welcoming, comfortable environment. Our ever-evolving menu and passion for hospitality have made us a cornerstone of the community. (Showing all the Avs and Broncos games hasn’t hurt, either.)

Natascha was awarded the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Exceptional Newcomer Industry Spotlight Award in 2022, and the Ginger Pig was named one of Westword’s “100 Restaurants We Can’t Live Without” in the same year. Natascha has also appeared on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay and Chopped.