How did you become interested in food?
I have had the dream to have my own food network show since I was nine years old. I knew that hard work was going to be involved so I just started printing off as many recipes from foodnetwork.com as I could then replicated each individual dish one by one until I knew each recipe by heart. When I turned 14, I was able to get my first job at a local Safeway as a courtesy clerk. The cost of the ingredients I was purchasing started to add up and I wanted to be able to pay for them myself. What 14 year old wants to buy chanterelle mushrooms and wild Alaskan salmon? I even remember asking for a cast iron skillet one year for Christmas. I still use it today and it is seasoned beautifully.
Who most influenced you?
At a young age I was hungry for knowledge in the culinary industry and my mom knew that if I started laying groundwork for my future at the age of nine my professional career would manifest early on in my life. She enrolled me in Sur La Table cooking classes and I participated in those for almost two years when my first big break came. My mother and I own Alexandra’s Gourmet Cookie Company and I was featured on channel 3 TV KTVK with Brad Perry on the morning show where I prepared my gourmet cookies at the Aeropagus coffee house in Scottsdale, Arizona. Then came channel 3 TV KTVK with Suzanne Bissett on Everyday Entertaining for my decadent entrees. I became a regular feature with my cooking segments on channel 12 TV KPNX Arizona Midday with Destry Jetton and The Valley Dish evening show with Tram Mai and as a chef for a live on-air cooking demonstration at Whole Foods markets in Scottsdale, Arizona with Clear channel radio hosted by Jan Datri. In addition to cooking, I have a passion for writing and have a monthly “Flavor Column” in North Valley Magazine which I still write for today. The most exciting news is that in early 2013 I am going to compete on Food Network’s Chopped! Be sure to watch!
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
The word “challenge” in my case has a positive notation to it. During my senior year of high school, I was hired as a culinary trainee at the JW Desert Ridge Marriott Resort and Spa. I would go to school from 7 a.m.-12 p.m. and then go to work from 2 p.m.-10 p.m. not to mention weekends. I did this while still balancing my cooking segments at Channel 12. Before coming to the CIA I knew that having a solid understanding of how to cook would enable me to thrive and multiply my success when I came to school because I would have a platform to build on. It was hard work but I recognized that I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg for what was to come once I graduated and was in the professional arena.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because the school breeds excellence. I want to have an extensive knowledge of food and the culinary industry before I go onto Food Network. Literally the CIA was the only option I had in mind for a college choice. Coming to the CIA has allowed me to form many professional relationships with the chefs, professors, and faculty. The instructors want to see you succeed and they will set the standards. If you go to CIA you will be made into the best you can be!
What do you like best about CIA?
Everyone here at the college has the same mentality of professionalism. Students are constantly thriving off of each other’s motivation. Steel sharpens steel and that perfectly describes the student body here at the CIA.
What are your career goals/plans?
When I graduate from the CIA I am going to try out for the Next Food Network Star. I also plan on opening up an Alexandra’s Gourmet Cookie Company storefront in New York City as well as write for the New York Times.
Any advice for prospective students?
Go! Hold on to your dream and sprint towards it fearlessly! The CIA is where the elite graduate from and I can promise you that attending the CIA will equip you will the aptitude and capability to obtain your goals.