EVERYONE HAS A STORY. TELL US HOW YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO BECOME A CHEF.
WHAT WAS YOUR “LIGHT BULB” MOMENT?
There was a little Mexican restaurant in my hometown of Santa Barbara, California that my family and I frequented. The owner’s daughter would bring me out flan on the house. She never said a word, but the food spoke for itself. It was there I learned that food is a love language, and I wanted to make people feel the way that child’s hospitality made me feel loved.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SAVORY DISH?
That’s a toss-up between a good slice of pizza with ranch and a bean and cheese burrito with pico.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DESSERT?
Either flan or ice cream, depending on how I’m feeling! I have ice cream most evenings.
CHEF WHOSE STYLE OF COOKING YOU REALLY DIG?
For savory foods: Dan Snowden of Bad Hunter
For pastries: Nicole Guini of Blackbird (Chicago)
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION?
Besides freshly spun ice cream? The people. The constant stream of personalities: the delivery drivers, the customers, my colleagues, the high school dishwasher. I’ve met some of the greatest people in this field. People who travel state to state to visit me, people who were in my wedding, people who inspire me. Who keep me sane in this chaotic world.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING A SIMILAR CAREER PATH?
Believe in yourself, be kind to yourself, push yourself, and try new things.
If it hasn’t been done, do it; if it has, do it better. Don’t listen when you’re told you’re wrong by a chef, chances are you just aren’t doing it their way. Be kind at all costs, be compassionate, courteous, and open, not just to everyone you come into contact with but to yourself. Remain teachable.
Don’t throw anything away! Some of my greatest dishes have come out of what at first seemed to be a failure, out of ingredients that were either left over or not being put to use.
Finally: cook everything with love, more love than you know what to do with. Cook
inspired, cook with passion, taste everything twice and make every plate like it was going to the person you love most in the world and the cook or chef who you look up to most in the world.
NAME ONE DESSERT/PASTRY THAT REALLY MADE AN IMPRESSION ON YOU?
A pastry Chef named Dana Cree made an incredible chocolate and concord grape dessert on a tasting menu at Blackbird in Chicago that blew my mind; I had never seen that use of grapes and chocolate together before and it was really inspiring for me.
WHAT CELEBRITY WOULD YOU LIKE TO PREPARE A SPECIAL DESSERT FOR? AND WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would make ice cream in a heartbeat for the whole team of the Los Angeles Kings. Any flavor they like!
HOW DOES THE TERM GLUTEN-FREE MAKE YOU FEEL?
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
The sky ‘s the limit. I’m just going to keep pushing myself, trying to bring people joy and we’ll see where I land.
LASTLY, WHAT DO YOU TO WHEN RELAXING
It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I just want to cuddle with my husband and kitties on the couch with a good Marvel movie on, sometimes I like to read/write, and I also am a sucker for a good hike to a waterfall, which fortunately are not hard to find here in Western North Carolina!