I have always loved food. Luckily for me, I’ve been able to turn this love of food into a career in cooking, and have spent the last fifteen years sharing this passion with friends, students, co-workers, and now television viewers.
I began my food career as a baker and caterer for a small independent bistro in Canada called Bistro Delight. This gave me a little taste of the industry, which was all I needed to realize that I truly wanted to pursue a culinary career. So, after graduating from university with a degree in English and History, I enrolled in culinary school. With formal training from the New England Culinary Institute, I began working in restaurant kitchens. I jumped straight into the deep end and started my kitchen experience in France, working at two Michelin-rated restaurants in Les-Baux-de-Provence – L’Ousteau de Beaumanière and La Cabro D’Or. As the only woman in the kitchen, this was more than a culinary encounter – it was a lesson in life. I recorded all my experiences there, both the good and the bad, in a journal. Working in France was a memorable start to my career in restaurants, but it also involved a steep learning curve, and I refer to that journal as a record of all of the lessons I learned in those two restaurant kitchens. After my time in France, I continued my restaurant experience in San Francisco at the Zuni Café, and in Berkeley at Café Rouge.
Three years later, recruited by my mentor chef from school, I made a career move towards teaching and returned to the New England Culinary Institute to help open their new restaurant in Burlington, Vermont – The Commons. While there, I taught culinary students on the hot line during lunch service, and held classes in basic culinary technique for adults in the evenings. I spent a year teaching at NECI, but couldn’t stay away from San Francisco, so I returned to California and put my love of teaching back to work, managing two HomeChef’s cooking schools and instructing cooking classes in many different genres. From there, I was asked to create and be featured in five one-hour cooking classes for live, nation-wide television on QVC. These cooking shows led to more live television work. I can now be found on QVC, cooking with a cookware line called Technique®, and my own brand called Blue Jean Chef®.
In addition to my restaurant and teaching experience, I’ve also worked in the world of food product development. As the Test Kitchen Manager for the Center for Culinary Development, I spent some time consulting on food trends and helping clients home in on current trends to create exciting new food products. In 2010 I published my first cookbook called Blue Jean Chef: Comfortable in the Kitchen, which has sold over 35,000 copies to date.
My career has taken turns that I never would have been able to predict, so to predict where my career will go in the future is pointless. All I can tell you is that I’m excited about all the possibilities and look forward to the path ahead.