How did you land in the food industry?
I grew up in a large Italian-American family—so cooking and eating well has always played an integral role in my life. After almost five years as an attorney, I enrolled in culinary school at Kendall College. From there I became a culinary spokesperson for Sara Lee Corporation, which opened the doors to culinary media.
Fast-forward almost a decade and I became host for Check, Please!. The path to my culinary career was definitely not linear, but I’ve always had a passion for all things culinary.
What has changed regarding what culinary students need?
The industry has changed significantly since I was in school. With the rise of the chef/owner, it is more important than ever for students to learn basic business skills. Kendall has a program which allows a student to get their Associate’s degree in culinary arts and then go on for a Bachelor’s degree in business. I am a huge advocate of this program.
Who has inspired you, professionally and personally?
Ina Garten and Martha Stewart inspired me to take the leap from law to the culinary field. Joanne Weir—a San Francisco based chef and also a TV host on PBS. As I was leaving law to pursue a culinary career, she gave it to me straight. She said it is going to be tough and I need to be willing to work hard and be prepared to make sacrifices personally and financially.