Year of Graduation: 2014
Program: Elite Diploma de Cuisine
Current position: Proprietor/Executive Chef Traveling Personal Chefs, LLC
Hometown: Transplanted New Yorker
Favorite Food: Morels in cream, charred octopus
Personal motto: Live each day like it’s your last and Life is too short to eat bad food!
- What was your inspiration that led you to wanting to become a chef?
I have always loved food, cooking, hospitality and all things French. When we lived in French Quebec (Montreal) my passion only deepened and I decided to follow my heart. I attended the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, Ontario and graduated with a catering certificate. I then worked for restaurants, hotels, caterers and as a personal chef. As Proprietor and Executive Chef of Traveling Personal Chefs, I continue to work for a select group of clients.
- What did you do before culinary school?
Cooking is my third career! I have my Master’s in Education and taught Jr. and High school in CT, NJ and NY. After teaching for years, I went into Corporate and Residential leasing and property management. I oversaw two luxury high rises in CT. and 145 corporate condos throughout NYC.
- Why the change?
I have always been drawn to the hospitality and culinary fields so cooking eventually became a career choice vs. a serious hobby.
- Describe your classroom experience
I have been so fortunate to have had very accomplished instructors who excel at the highest skill levels but also displayed a passion for the craft and true nurturing toward their students. My LeNôtre instructors have been incredible to work with; most notably Chef Kris, Chef Jean, Chef Pascal and Chef Matt. They have been true mentors to me and I have to credit each one of them for helping me grow professionally and personally. They made each day in labs a pleasure!
- What would you like to do with your degree?
I will continue to work with my private clients. Additionally, I have aspirations to own and operate a small restaurant along with my husband. I especially have interest in the areas of menu planning, recipe creation and testing, and front of the house event planning. Without sounding cliché, it would afford us the opportunity to intimately work together, drawing on our own personal strengths and allow us to rise to the challenge of creating personal memories for our guests.
- Do you do anything besides cooking? Hobbies?
I love to travel everywhere-throughout the US and Abroad. It thrills me to meet new people, experience different cultures and cuisines, and become part of the global community. I practice yoga to balance my mind, body and soul. I am an amateur writer and have been “shopping my manuscript” with literary agents! Being a huge animal advocate; I foster and volunteer for Buster’s Friends, a local pet rescue program. When I’m not traveling, cooking or writing, I hang out with Jeffrey, family and friends.
- What have you been doing since you graduated?
After graduating from CIL with top honors, I continued as Executive Chef of Bistro des Amis, a neighborhood French bistro that my husband and I bought in early 2014. We successfully turned around a failing business and recently sold it. Since then we have been conducting cooking demos, classes and tastings for specialty shops and culinary establishments and remain Private Chefs for a few select clients. We also travel extensively throughout the US and abroad and dine out a lot! To experience new food trends, get inspired and keep current and progressive is really important in this industry.
- What are you doing right now? Describe a normal day of work.
When in Houston, I do not have a typical day since I provide a customized approach to each client and tailor a menu and recipes to reflect their preferences and dietary needs. It has been fun expanding my creative repertoire to include vegan, vegetarian, heart healthy and gluten free options. I will typically visit the area farmers markets and sustainable vendors at least once a week to get fresh, local and seasonal products that will inspire me to create new combinations, flavor profiles and recipes.
- Would you like to share a recipe with us?
My signature dish is Seared Hudson Valley Grade a Foie Gras that I first score then season and sear until almost black in a very hot cast iron pan until the center just starts to melt. I like to set it atop a clarified butter toasted brioche crouton topped with caramelized shallot and fig confit and finished with a drizzle of grapefruit gastrique and a fresh chive sprig. Simple and delicious!
- Any recommendation for improvement? What would you say to a student thinking about enrolling at Culinary Institute LeNôtre?
Graduating from LeNôtre Culinary Institute has confirmed I made the right decision to follow my heart. I am not sure what the future will hold for me but traveling and great food will definitely play a huge part in my life’s journey!