Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a chef? We continue our ongoing series interviewing chefs with questions gathered from curious kids!
Today, we are getting to know Chef Laura Rodriguez. Chef Laura currently works full time as personal chef to a prominent country music artist and his family/staff in Nashville, Tennessee. Laura learned to cook when she lived in Italy. She has traveled to dozens of countries exploring their native cuisines and mastered replicating her favorites at home. She started as a dish washer in a cooking school and went on to work in restaurants in Chicago before her entrepreneurial spirit drove her to start a catering company (Crème Catering) in 2012. She and her family moved to Tennessee in 2014 to start an organic farm, where her love for farm-to-table cuisine blossomed and continues to grow as she connects with local farmers and artisans in her community today.
She has taught hundreds of cooking classes for Whole Foods, The Nashville Farmers’ Market, Nashville Community Education Commission, Gilda’s Club, and The Kitchen Nashville and has written hundreds of recipes for The Heimerdinger Foundation, Edible Nashville, Meaningful Living, and other publications.
Thanks to all the kids who sent in questions! QUEST: If you have questions for a chef, send them in!
What type of food do you enjoy making? What type of food do you most enjoy making ? Seasonal food. Whatever is new at the farmers’ market or coming out of my backyard garden.
What knife do you use the most? My chef’s knife. It’s an 8″ Damascus steel knife from Hammer + Anvil that my husband bought for me.
What are your favorite ingredients to cook with? I love to cook with simple, fresh ingredients. Salt, pepper, good quality oil and vinegars, fresh herbs, citrus are things I use every single day.
Why did you choose to be a chef? Cooking chose me. I was raised to believe I needed to become a doctor or a lawyer when I grew up. So I always thought I would be a lawyer. Then I studied abroad in Italy and experienced the best food I had ever seen, smelled, and tasted, and I instantly fell in love with food and cooking. I became obsessed with it. It was then that I knew I had to make a career out of it.
How long have you been a chef? 11 years.
What is your best dish and why? I don’t think I have a best dish. I have lots of good dishes and some great dishes and tons of dishes that still need perfecting. I’m not sure I would still enjoy cooking if I completely perfected it. I love that it challenges me every day.
Was there a specific person who inspired you to cook? I owe my life now to my friend Giovanni – a neighbor of mine in Rome who taught me how to cook. He taught me to cook by feeling and tasting. There were no recipes. We would cook together and taste and adjust and cook it until it was “bene, bene” (“good, good”).
Did you go to culinary school? Why or why not? I did not. I had just graduated with a 4 year full tuition scholarship and knew I couldn’t afford culinary school so I started as a dishwasher in a local cooking school and worked through hundreds of classes – learning everything the students paid to learn – and practicing at home on my off days. I also watched a TON of Food Network back then.