Born and raised in Hawaii (already I’m so cool!), I grew up surfing, tanning, and trying to get as far away from my household as I could. So I squandered an otherwise pricey (though I was on scholarship) college prep education to work my way up the male ladder in restaurant kitchens, the only place I felt comfortable and mildly confident. I was going to be a chef, godammit and, in the seventies and eighties, this was not an easily achievable feat for a GIRL.
I cooked my way through Northern Italian and Continental (how “retro”) kitchens in Portland, Oregon. Then moved on to New Orleans, determined as ever but finding that city stuck in, say the mid-fifties, women-in-the-kitchen-progression-wise. But I learned all things Creole and Cajun, make a mean gumbo and to this day, can impress all my friends with my food.
I did make it to Chef, seems I have innate, high-volume management skills to compliment my culinary abilities. I was finally discovered in New Orleans by Sanders International Ventures at World Expo ’84, and wound up travelling with them to Vancouver and Australia for the 1986 and 1988 World’s Fairs as their Executive Chef, lording over up to 100 cooks cranking out food ranging from Chinese to Greek to German.
So I have some good stories and possibly a unique view of the world. At middle age (did I actually say that?) you tend to look back at life and wonder what you’ll be known for. The cooking and travelling and managing massive, international food production in strange cities is behind me now. I finally mustered up the confidence to do something else. But those days in the culinary trenches are bittersweet so I’m writing about them. Oh and yeah, I’ll also write about what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years: designing kitchens and bars. Who doesn’t love a good kitchen story?
More about me on Thrillist https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/why-8-chefs-quit-the-kitchen