Interview by: Justyna Kedra (email@example.com)
BASED IN: NEW YORK
What do you do?
I was the owner/operator of a company called Shescape for 15 years, producing, promoting and hosting nightclub events all over Manhattan, as well as fund-raisers, boat cruises and even an off-broadway show (Plums In New York in 2005). In 2006 I pursued a long-time dream of mine, to go to culinary school and work in the restaurant industry. I have always had a passion for food, cooking, entertaining, inspired by my love of New York City and all it's diversity. After many years of hard work in a variety of restaurants, producing supper clubs, pop-ups and catered events, I took the helm as Executive Chef for The Flatiron Room in 2012. It has been a very rewarding journey.
Who inspires you?
Not who but what.. I have to say that I have been inspired by my beautiful city of New York. It's like no place on earth, with it's cultural diversity, depth of talent, access to whatever you can imagine for yourself. New York City is my muse, she shows up everywhere in my style of cooking.
What has been the most thrilling moment of your career thus far?
Definitely cooking for the James Beard Foundation this past October. It went better than my expectations, and was extremely validating for my crew and for me as a chef.
What advice could you offer to women trying to break into culinary world?
I always advise anyone interested in working in this industry to go get a job in a kitchen at the bottom level, and see if you really still love it after 6 months. If so then I encourage them to take the next step whether it's a full-time culinary school education or just a boot-camp program. Once you get your feet wet with learning basic knife skills and kitchen efficiency, try to find a job with a restaurant or chef whose food you really love. Working with a cuisine you love or a chef you admire will keep you excited and motivated even when the hours are long and the work is physically & mentally challenging. It is the hardest work you will ever love.
Would you encourage the younger generation to build their own businesses? How so?
I would recommend that everyone take a stab at something entrepreneurial at least once in their life. Whether you succeed or fail, the experience will enrich your life, boost your confidence, test your limits, and give you a greater understanding of what it takes to succeed. Even if you still end up working for others, you will be a more well-rounded and better equipped employee, which will most likely make you more valuable to the team.