Passion is Key Ingredient in Culinary Careers | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Passion is Key Ingredient in Culinary Careers

Local female chefs, loving what they do

The most recent Data USA report shows 77.6% of chefs and head cooks are men—but it appears this traditionally male-dominated field is evolving. More than half the students at the Culinary Institute of America are now women. Central Oregon Community College's Cascade Culinary Institute reports in the school year 2017-18, the program's females made up 53% of the student population, with males at 47%.

Passion is Key Ingredient in Culinary Careers
Chef Ashley Dolinar, Owner of Nonna's Cucina, Redmond

Cascade Culinary's Assistant Professor of Baking and Pastry Laura Hagen believes women are the influencers of generations of chefs.

"Most of my students have a mother or grandmother who taught them to love baking and cooking," Hagen said. "Rarely do I hear of a father or grandfather forging that path."

She goes on to say, "Creating great food is synonymous with nurturing those we love."

Local female chefs/restaurateurs appear to echo that sentiment.

"My passion in the kitchen started young but continued to flourish as I got older." said Ashley Dolinar, Chef/Owner at Nonna's Cucina in Redmond.

Source Weekly: Talk about what challenges you face.

Ashley Dolinar: "There is always going to be that one person that has some negative feedback, and learning how to turn the negativity into a positive learning experience rather than letting it bring me down is something that I am continuously working on."

SW: Best advice?

AD: "This is a male-dominated industry, so it is very important to stand your ground and believe in yourself!"

"I went to culinary school and knew from the first day that this is what I wanted to do," said Ariana Fernandez, Chef/Owner Ariana Restaurant in Bend.

Passion is Key Ingredient in Culinary Careers
Chef Ariana Fernandez, Owner at Ariana Restaurant, Bend

Source Weekly: Restaurants are notorious for long, hard hours. How do you manage a work/life balance?

Ariana Fernandez: "Andres (husband/co-owner) and I have two young daughters, so we try to create balance in our life by closing the restaurant Sundays and Mondays, as well as closing down twice a year for two-week intervals in order to take family vacations. Our success is due in part to taking this time off."

SW: Best advice?

AF: "My advice for women interested in the culinary arts would be exactly the same for men. You must love this work. You must have a passion that motivates you through the long hours on your feet. If you work in a place that is in any way degrading or inappropriate, leave. There are restaurants that will treat you with the respect you deserve."

"My love of cooking and desire to express my own flavors and seasoning boosted me to the head chef position I lead now with my two businesses," said Amy Wright, Chef/Owner of Sunny Yoga Kitchen & Sunny's Carrello in Bend.

Passion is Key Ingredient in Culinary Careers
Tambi Lane Photography
Chef Amy Wright, Owner of Sunny Yoga Kitchen & Sunny's Carrello, Bend

Source Weekly: How you do manage the work/life balance?

Amy Wright: "I'm working 80-90 hours a week right now. The way I balance it is getting out to snowboard on my one day off and practicing at least 15 minutes of yoga almost every day.

SW: Best advice?

AW: "My advice for women interested in the culinary arts is to travel before settling into a culinary career. My inspiration comes from my many trips to Italy, France, Germany, Central America and so many amazing cities and the food they have to offer."

"Choosing this career was a labor of love for me," said Nickol Hayden-Cady, Executive Pastry Chef/Owner Foxtail Bakeshop in Bend.

Passion is Key Ingredient in Culinary Careers
Tambi Lane Photography
Executive Pastry Chef Nickol Hayden-Cady, Owner of Foxtail Bakeshop, Bend

Source Weekly: Your biggest challenge?

Nickol Hayden-Cady: "The biggest challenge that I have had to date is opening the restaurant. We were eight months behind, $40,000 over budget and I was pregnant. I gave birth and a week later we opened the restaurant. I was training my staff, went home, gave birth, slept 24 hours and came right back to work. That experience was an incredible moment of growth for me as a chef and a woman."

SW: How do you manage a work/life balance?

NHC: "What's that? The challenges facing working mothers in the industry are insane. The hours are long—anywhere from 14 to 18 hours daily—and no daycare centers in Bend offer 2am to 7pm care hours. I am heavily reliant on my husband and parents." 

"Love what you do!" said Bethlyn Rider, Chef/Owner of Bethlyn's Global Fusion in Bend.

Passion is Key Ingredient in Culinary Careers
Chef Bethlyn Rider, Owner of Bethlyn's Global Fusion, Bend

Source Weekly: Why did you choose a culinary career?

Bethlyn Rider: "It makes me feel happy to make other people happy! The best part is I don't have to say anything; they take a bite from what I make for them and the smile on their face will say it all."

SW: Best advice?

BR: "Train your staff to manage themselves; it's empowering. Trust your female intuition. Don't allow yourself to be in a box. Be ready to evolve."

About The Author

Donna Britt

Food writer, food stylist, recipe tester, cookbook editor, podcast producer/host are a few of the creative hats Donna Britt wears. Donna loves to hike, paddle board and spend quality time with family and friends. Oh, and she also collects cookbooks and cast iron cooking vessels.
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