September/October 2022 Edition


M y story begins with a very humbled and “normal” background. I am all that you may have seen in media and on the screen. I am also so much more as a daughter, sister, mother, nana, girlfriend, and a few other labels that are used to define me. Getting here to this station in my life is a journey that I really wouldn’t change. Oh, the experiences and the knowledge earned from those bumps and stumbles along the way! I am the third of four children born to my parents in the western suburbs of Chicago. Both parents were very good cooks. We had a garden in our backyard, and we would go pick our own fruits and vegetables on weekends. Yeah, I hated it! I’d much rather have been riding bikes with friends, but once we got there it was fun. We’d travel to Southern Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. We were “foraging “ before it was cool. Then once we got home we were pickling, parboiling, canning and freezing so that we would have fresh food year-round! I was a home economics major in high school because the phrase “culinary arts” was never introduced to me until I was graduated and pursuing a career in it. Of

course there are great restaurants and culinary schools in Chicago, I just never imagined that as a career opportunity — neither did any of my teachers and counselors. I grew up surrounded by strong women who modeled great work ethic. My mom graduated college at 50 years of age. She would take at least one class each year while raising her four kids and working full time. Our minister and assistant ministers were all female. Dad worked two jobs until at the age of 44 when he died of a massive heart attack. So yes, with these examples in my life I am a firm believer in work-life balance! I’ve received tremendous support and inspiration from my family throughout my life and career. My bunk- bed mate and sister is a United States Navy Retired Commander. My baby brother has been holding down the Front of House forever! My son, Brock, and daughter, Bianca, also share my entrepreneurial spirit and love of food. Brock was four months old when I took him to his first American Culinary Federation conference! I wasn’t leaving my baby, but as the chapter President, I knew


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