The ‘Meet….’ series gives you a glimpse into the inner workings of some of my all-time fave peeps and cheffing superheroes. I ask the same ten questions and you get their heartfelt responses.
I first met the gorgeous and vibrant Miss Maria, affectionately known as ‘Token’ via the Press Club kitchens a couple of years ago (Token, because she was the ONLY female chef in the crew). Maria was the Chef de Cuisine (Restaurant Chef) of the Column Restaurant, and just quietly, responsible for a good many extra pounds I gained from eating her amazingly tasty and delicious Latin American infused cuisine. #yarm
This little lady chef’s energy is contagious, her bubbly disposition and passion to be successful, totally cuts through. Women don’t have it easy in the kitchen and to this day it is a predominantly male dominated industry. Successful female chefs are still an exception, but women like Maria are moving to stake their claim as the best out there. And as a female chef I know firsthand how kitchens tend to be rather Ahhhh….. dare I say, testosterone-driven. But Maria is a tough one and gets things done, but remains girlie at the same time, so you can see why I’m a fan of this Chef. It was inspiring to watch her sort of feminine touch influence not only the food coming out of the kitchen, but the atmosphere of the kitchen too.
Cooking for Maria is not just a passion; it’s an experience for body and soul. When you eat her incredible food, you are taken on a journey with her, each plate is a work of art, a beautiful expression. Amen to that!
How long have you been cooking / a chef?
I have been cooking for six years, but I think with chefs, it sort of works like dog years, so that would make it roughly 37 years I have been cooking.
Where are some of the coolest places you’ve worked? Destination jobs etc.
I’ve been very lucky to work at some of the best restaurants in Canberra, and now Panama. But definitely one of the coolest experiences was traveling to Hong Kong with the Southern Cross Club Graduate Cook’s Award and visiting some of the best kitchens and restaurants.
What’s your signature dish?
Anything with rice. I love rice!! Sweet or savoury, I love experimenting with it.
What was your worst kitchen disaster? Worst cut, burn etc. What happened?
I fell from a kitchen bench trying to reach the top shelf wearing socks. (I know… silly) I slipped, landed on my butt and hit my lower back and head too, it was very scary. I had internal bruising and pain for a while.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three things, what would they be and why?
Some sort of solar powered musical device, a suitcase full of books and my chef’s knife to test my survival skills.
When you just want to make something simple, quick, and delicious, what do you prepare?
Fried Rice! It’s the simplest way to clean out a fridge and make something tasty and filling. And well its rice, so I’m always in for rice.
If you were to invite a famous person to your house for a meal (any meal) — who would it be, what would you prepare, and why?
The Dalai Lama. I would feel so blessed just to be surrounded in his peaceful energy. It would also be a good challenge for me to prepare the most delicious vegetarian dish I could think of. I’d make a tasty black bean and quinoa burger. I think he would enjoy that.
What is your fave breakfast?
This is a tough one. Dim Sum is pretty amazing, but I also love traditional Panamanian breakfast with corn tortillas, fried bread, and chorizo. And…. well anything with bacon makes for a great breakfast too.
Do you do the cooking at home?
No. Never. It takes a lot of convincing from mom or dad.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
TELEPORTATION! Just imagine going from one place to another in no time. And all the amazing food you could eat everywhere!
So tell me dear reader, is cooking a rewarding experience for you? And what food makes you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside?