One of the more rewarding experiences of my culinary life or life in general is watching individual growth. In the dog days of summer in 2008, when I first came on board the kitchen at Glen Ivy I was truly amazed at how little all the kitchen staff understood about a commercial kitchen, although over half of the original kitchen staff were alumni of Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena or L.A. After some weeding out there was one cook that stood out, not because of her over the top skills, but because of her professionalism and passion and hunger for information. She had a strong willingness to learn and almost asking for more instruction. Kathy Rodriguez was like a sponge. Each and every time I spoke to her or someone else in her presence, she would break out the pen and pad and scribble notes. She was intent to ask intelligent questions and never shirk my demands. Kathy is a very hard working smart cook and her question, “Why” at every turn is what is going to bring her to the top. Her presence of family values and wonderful personality always brings attention in a positive way. Kathy has worked alongside me for 5 years and rose through the ranks climbing the culinary ladder from Cook II, Cook I, First Cook and Sous Chef. I pushed Kathy very hard knowing she had it in her to reach for the gold ring. And yes, there were some tough learning times and some misty eyes, but Kathy stayed the course.
Kitchens are organized chaos where cooking is just a part of a chef’s duties. It is a symphony of hot pots and pans, sharp knives with cooks and wait staff moving about at a quick pace with one goal in mind, serving our guests. The kitchen is a place that must be orchestrated with a tough fine hand so our guest can be served, as best as possible. As time passed, Kathy just improved in every area. Kathy developed so well she was my choice to run the kitchens at EDL, our demanding owner group, and in charge of feeding their community from November of 2011 to January of 2013.
In the fall of 2013, Kathy had told me she and one of my former cooks, Dru Cayabyab, were thinking of trying out for a food truck face off show with The Food Network. She coined her want to-be food truck team “The QuesaDivas” doing gourmet quesadillas. I thought it was genius and told her that her personality, as well as Dru’s, was a perfect fit. As a former Food Network chef, she asked questions and I offered some pointers, but Kathy’s culinary knowledge, personality and inviting pretty smile will prevail. And Prevail they did, winning the whole enchilada or quesadilla, I should say. Their food looked amazing and it is a matter of time when Kathy will be out of my shadow and casting a big shadow for herself. You have grown a great deal my friend. I am so very proud of Kathy and Dru for where they have come. It’s a far cry from our first encounter. I am also happy for Kathy’s family. They are a very close supporting loving family.
– Cafe Sole, Chef Bill Wavrin
Quesadillas with Attitude
Winners of Food Network’s Food Truck Face Off! The Official QuesaDivas Food Truck.
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