October 15, 2014

Meet Maria De Los Angeles

Meet Maria De Los Angeles. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

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

Meet Maria De Los Angeles. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

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.

Meet Maria De Los Angeles. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

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.

Meet Maria De Los Angeles. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

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.

Meet Maria De Los Angeles. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

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.

Meet Maria De Los Angeles. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.com

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!

These days Maria is cooking up a storm at Humo in Panama. Be sure to connect with her by visiting her website http://littlefunkyhappychef.com and following her adventures on Instagram.

So tell me dear reader, is cooking a rewarding experience for you? And what food makes you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside?

Ready to take this relationship to the next level?

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shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

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Jean | Holy Smithereens - November 19, 2014 Reply

What an interesting interview and peek into women in the cheffing (is this a word?) industry! I love how Maria’s specialty is rice! 🙂
Yes I find cooking rewarding and often like to make my own food but I’m no gourmet cook or anything. Only because I like simple home made food the best 🙂

    Anna - November 19, 2014 Reply

    Jean…. So good to see your beautiful face. You sure have been doing some amazing adventuring. #jelly 🙂
    Yes, Maria is amazing, she really is doing brilliant things for the industry, its awesome to see woman owning their place too. She is a superstar.
    I hear you re the cooking simple home made food, very rewarding. 🙂

My Inner Chick - October 28, 2014 Reply

She is AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaDORBLE.
Love her! Fabulous!!!! xx

    Anna - October 28, 2014 Reply

    Heck yeah she is Kim! Maria is one sassy sparkly lady! 🙂
    Yep, whole lot of love for the woman too.

Sophie - October 27, 2014 Reply

What a fun lady! hahahahaha! she looks cool & what a fun interview too! Thanks for introducing her to me! 🙂

    Anna - October 28, 2014 Reply

    Yep, she totally rocks Sophie. She is one cool lady, I feel lucky to know her. 🙂

Gourmet Getaways - October 21, 2014 Reply

Such a fun lady! You gave her the right adjective – vibrant!

Gourmet Getaways

    Anna - October 21, 2014 Reply

    Oh yeah, she rocks, one super gal. 🙂

Raymund - October 21, 2014 Reply

What a character, very nice post. Its nice to interview people like her 🙂

    Anna - October 21, 2014 Reply

    Haha! Yep, she is a hoot! 🙂
    I feel lucky to know such an awesome person like Maria.

The Squishy Monster - October 21, 2014 Reply

What a cool character. Great post, girl!

    Anna - October 21, 2014 Reply

    She really is one cool chick! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed lovely one.

Choc Chip Uru - October 20, 2014 Reply

Maria has probably the best smile I have ever seen, she is genuinely SO happy 😀
Must come with doing what you love! I really want to read more about her, this was a great introduction! Thanks girl!

Choc Chip Uru

    Anna - October 21, 2014 Reply

    She really does huh Uru?! 🙂 When Maria walks into a room, she always had that amazing affect on people, everything would light up. 🙂
    Check out her blog and start following her journey. Glad you enjoyed the post too! 🙂

Erin | The Law Student's Wife - October 20, 2014 Reply

Thank you so much for introducing us to Maria! What a talented, vibrant person. I want to hang out with both of you in real life 🙂

    Anna - October 20, 2014 Reply

    Oh yeah, that would be awesome Erin, it’d be so cool to hang out and get our cook on together. 🙂

Norma Chang - October 19, 2014 Reply

Love the photo with the egg, Maria contagious energy came through loud and clear. Great interview, fried rice is also my quick go to dish as well.

    Anna - October 20, 2014 Reply

    Isnt it an awesome pic Norma, wonder how many takes it took to capture it just right?!
    Yep, fried rice sure is a popular little dish.

Catherine - October 19, 2014 Reply

“I think with chefs, it sort of works like dog years, so that would make it roughly 37 years I have been cooking” – Haha! I can see where you’re coming from! Great interview 🙂

    Anna - October 20, 2014 Reply

    Haha… Yes, thought that was pretty accurate myself. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by Catherine. 🙂

Amanda (@lambsearshoney) - October 19, 2014 Reply

Nice interview and gorgeous photos, Anna. She sure sounds like a firecracker!

    Anna - October 19, 2014 Reply

    Thanks heaps Amanda. 🙂
    Token is one of the greatest gals I know, and one heck of a chef too.

Agness - October 19, 2014 Reply

Great interview. I’m also into cooking right now. I love to bake and try new recipes. Maybe I have not been baking for 6 years as Maria, but over 1 year. I even set up a new Instagram account where I share photos of my dishes and meals I cook daily 🙂 —> http://instagram.com/runagnessrun

    Anna - October 19, 2014 Reply

    Awesome Agness. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your Instagram account, happy weekend, looking forward to seeing what wonderful things you bake and create. 🙂

Tim | UrbanDuniya - October 18, 2014 Reply

Cool post – and the photos are great (some hilarious!!).

I totally agree about the teleportation – I can think of a million places I’d go to right now!!

    Anna - October 19, 2014 Reply

    Teehee! Yep, Miss Maria is one photographic little lady. 🙂
    Oh yeah, Id be off to Italy today if teleportation was a thing.
    Happy weekend Tim.

Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl - October 18, 2014 Reply

Lots of fun, and totally agree on all the rice comments!

    Anna - October 19, 2014 Reply

    She’s a hoot Pamela, and yep, it seems rice is a winner all round. 🙂

Sriprae - October 18, 2014 Reply

Terrific post! Wow. I feel infused with girl power after reading your interview with Maria. Very inspiring. Love her spunkiness and energy. Thanks for sharing, girlfriend!

All the best to you and much love! xo

    Anna - October 18, 2014 Reply

    Haha Sriprae, Maria has the same effect on me. She really does have a wonderful energy for life.
    Wishing you a beautiful weekend my friend, hugs and love back at chya. 🙂

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - October 17, 2014 Reply

What a fantastic interview!

Kathy @ Olives & Garlic - October 17, 2014 Reply

This is a great interview and the pictures are fun.
I just love cooking. period. What gives me the warm and fuzzies is the reaction on my hubs or daughters face when it’s good. I guess if I had to pick my favorite I love cooking anything that is low and slow, like stews and comfort dishes.

    Anna - October 17, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much Kathy! 🙂
    I totally agree, I love cooking for a dinner party or event, and seeing the enjoyment on their faces as they eat my food.
    Love me a slow cook, but grateful Summer is almost here so we can enjoy salads and green smoothies again.

Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy - October 17, 2014 Reply

Great interview! I love discovering new foodie people. I am loving the picture with the egg too haha.

    Anna - October 17, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Dannii! 🙂 Maria really is an amazing chef and living an extraordinarily awesome life too.
    Yes, I agree, the photos are amazing.

Susan - October 17, 2014 Reply

ShenANNAgans, you’ve done it again.! Another great interview with a fabulous & gorgeous lady chef, I too miss Tokens beautiful menus at the Press Club, but wish her all the best in her restaurant in Panama.

    Anna - October 17, 2014 Reply

    Why thank ya! 🙂
    Miss Maria really is a gem, and couldnt agree more re her amazing food here at the NPC.
    Lets add visiting Token in Panama to the list.

ela@GrayApron - October 16, 2014 Reply

Cool girl, series and the interview. Me… yeah, cooking is rewarding all the way. Favorite thing… hard to say, depends on the day. But there has to be always a homemade dessert in the house…then I can relax 🙂

    Anna - October 17, 2014 Reply

    Oooooo lovely Ela, our house never has homemade desserts…. Prob because I eat them before they have a chance to make house. Hah 🙂

Kris Johnston - October 16, 2014 Reply

What a great interview. Token is the best name. I wish we had though of that one for you. Pretty sure at one point in the kitchen, there were 18 male chef’s…. and you. 🙂

Token seems to have a bright future ahead of her, filled with many wonderful memories and adventures.

Damn, I feel like fried rice now.

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Teehee…. Token is the best nickname huh?! 🙂
    Haha! Yep, I remember working those massive functions with about 15 big burly male chefs, good thing I had my bro and bestie there to protect me. #thankyou
    Yep, reckon you are right about the amazing career she is creating for herself, cant wait to visit here in Panama.
    Just ate some fried rice then, soooo good.

K / Pure & Complex - October 16, 2014 Reply

Anything chocolate makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I loved reading this, cool post.

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Thanks heaps! 🙂 Haha… And I agree re the chocolate, has the same effect on me. 🙂
    I appreciate you stopping by, you rock.

Denise Browning@From Brazil To You - October 16, 2014 Reply

What a great interview, Anna! I love her spirit and persistence in a field dominated by men.

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Why thank you Denise. 🙂 Maria is such a lovely lass, and inspiring and super talented too. She rocks.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - October 16, 2014 Reply

She looks very exuberant and like lots of fun. The injury sounds painful though and I love the fact that she chose rice as the one ingredient. I wouldn’t have guessed that from a chef!

    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - October 16, 2014 Reply

    P.S. I didn’t mean that last comment in a bad way! It’s just that you always expect chefs to say things like truffles. I liked that she chose something simple.

      Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

      Maria is one of the coolest peeps I know Lorraine, so gorgeous and vibrant and an amazing chef to boot. 🙂
      I was surprised by her fave ingredient too, but like you, its refreshing to see a chef keeping it real. LOL!

Hannah - October 16, 2014 Reply

I miss Maria! I miss her infectious bubbly smiling way of being!

I love cooking but have the most wonderful misfortune of a partner who puts my cooking to shame!

I’m big on comfort food. Which to me is basically anything my Gran used to make. Pumpkin soup, shepard’s pie, baked potatoes, roast lamb… the list goes on.

Love this blog!!!

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Me too! 🙂
    Haha… what a problem to have, a partner that cooks amazing food.
    Mmmmm, baked potato, so good. You have had me craving baked potato for weeks now.
    As always, thanks for being such a great supporter.

Alice - October 16, 2014 Reply

You can tell a lot by a person’s personality, especially when it comes to food! I’ve no doubt that such a vibrant & accomplished woman, brings so much to the male dominated hospitality industry. I can’t wait to try the food at Panama one day!!!

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Heck yeah Alice, little Miss Maria was such a valuable part of the Press Club team, and an even bigger part of educating my palette on what Panamanian foods taste like. 🙂
    Like you, I cant wait to visit Panama too.

lizzygoodthings - October 16, 2014 Reply

Great interview with a great gal… great photos too! And ouchies to that fall… jeez! I’m with Maria, fried rice is great. Thanks so much for the intro, Anna!

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    She is one of my faves, and dang can the girl cook Liz. 🙂
    I know right, sounds like one heck of a fall, she is very lucky she didn’t do permanent damage.
    Gonna have to get her back home to whip up a batch of fried rice, I bet its magical. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by lovely Liz. xox

Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) - October 16, 2014 Reply

Oh, Maria make you feel warm and fuzzy – lovely interview Anna an some lovely shots!

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Maria really is gorgeous. Such a talented chef and beautiful person too. Thanks Rachel. 🙂

Fran - October 16, 2014 Reply

Trying to follow. She looks like a whole lotta fun.

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Get on it Fran, she really is a hoot, and one super talented lady. 🙂

Hotly Spiced - October 15, 2014 Reply

The photos of her are great. I can’t imagine working in an ‘office’ full of men and being the only female and being called ‘token’. Amazing how she’s now working in Panama. I agree that fried rice is a great way to use up everything in the drawers in the fridge xx

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Maria is gorgeous huh, Charlie. 🙂 And she never let the fact she was the only female in the kitchen limit her, she is a tough little lady. I would hope that reading about female chefs like Maria will inspire other young ladies to get their chef on. 🙂
    Mmmm… fried rice. LOL

Elizabeth - October 15, 2014 Reply

Yes Cooking is very rewarding got me… Especially when someone else has loveling made me delicious morsels of food and then I get to go home and give it a go!!! Maria looks like a hoot… Great blog 🙂 Liz x

    Anna - October 16, 2014 Reply

    Haha… I’m with you Liz, its wonderful to eat incredible foods and then have a go at making them yourself at home. Although, I don’t do that as much these days. 🙂 And, Maria is a hoot. She is one heck of a cool chick and I was super lucky to be able to work with such a great chef.

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