Food captured my imagination from a young age. I remember standing on a step stool to reach the kitchen-counter. I grew up surrounded by food: my paternal grandparents owned a Lebanese deli; my maternal grandpa was a baker for the US Navy. Early on, I learned the value of preparing a meal for a stranger, and that food has the power to bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together.
As a Kitchen Manager in Nestlé Professional’s Culinary Innovation Team, my role is all about innovation, renovation, and application. I take new and existing products and find ways to evolve and adapt them into exciting new menu items. My career is the fulfillment of a childhood passion, and it’s a career I was able to embark upon thanks to organizations like Nestlé Professional engaging with next generation and upcoming culinary talent through ProStart.
Now, I try to pay that engagement forward. Here’s the story of how I became a chef – and how others can build exciting culinary careers at Nestlé and beyond.
The Girl Who Wants to Be a Chef
In high school my whole personality was about preparing great food. I would bring extravagant school lunches with me, and I had a food Instagram where I’d share my favorite recipes. I was known as the girl who wants to be a chef.
I was encouraged to enroll in the ProStart program – a culinary education program that runs competitions for aspiring chefs at the state and national level. It was incredible; I was surrounded by other students who all had the same goal as me, and it became the foundation of my culinary education.
In 2018 I auditioned for a competition at the state level. It’s intense: you make an entrée, an appetizer, and a dessert in one hour with no power. It takes months to prepare, and you work with a team to develop a menu and work as a symphony together. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and thanks to a scholarship from ProStart, I was able to attend culinary school.
An Unexpected Opportunity
As a freshman at culinary school, I attended a career fair. My goal was to work for a company where I could grow – somewhere I could start with an internship, and then develop my career and move around to new and exciting roles. I was surprised to see the Nestlé logo at the event and spoke to a representative named Doug who told me about the innovation kitchen and the exciting ways Nestlé develops menus.
I decided to do an internship with Nestlé, and I loved every moment of it – it really was the job I’d been dreaming of. I asked my supervisor what I needed to do at culinary school to make Nestlé my career and shaped my studies to make sure I could come back. Years later, I’m proud to be a Kitchen Manager at Nestlé Professional, doing exactly the kind of work that sparked my interest during that first internship.
Paying it Forward
Nestlé Professional’s sponsorship of ProStart—which is part of our Nestlé needs YOU initiative which aims to empower the next generation to thrive in their careers, regardless of field or level of expertise—has given me an opportunity very few people get in their careers: to be able to return to the program that started my journey and help other people develop their culinary passion. Returning was a full-circle moment, and I was in awe of the students – these were young chefs competing at the national level and being able to offer support and advice to them was a real honor.
It's vital that organizations like Nestlé engage in their communities in this way. Food is a vital part of culture: we need to foster the next generation of chefs and culinary experts because food matters in so many areas of our lives. ProStart also teaches lessons like teamwork, discipline, and organization – skills that are necessary for any line of work, so it’s a valuable place to invest in the workforce of the future.
I’m proud to see Nestlé taking the time to give back to the communities who buy and use our products, and perhaps inspiring the chef who’ll innovate Nestlé’s next big hit!