CHEF ROXANNE CANDELARIA
There are three things in my life that I hold close to my heart; my family, good music that I can sing aloud to and food. Food has been an integral part of my life since I was born. When my great grandparents emigrated from Mexico, they decided to open up a restaurant in San Gabriel, CA.
I recall visiting the restaurant often when I was little. The restaurant was run by the children including my grandmother, Teresa. My grandma was a huge influence in my life. She loved to entertain. My fondest memories of her are in her home and always having pot on the stove. She was such a wonderful cook. As a child I had a desire to help her but she told me no and that she never needed help, especially with the cooking.
Taking the cue from my grandma, I decided to do some entertaining myself. In high school, I would have seasonal dinners with my best friends. We would all pick a course to cook and every time I would be chosen to cook the main course. Although my cooking skills were still green, my friends loved my cooking. As I grew older, my love and passion for cooking began to grow, so I decided enroll in culinary school. Here I could take my passion for cooking and make it my career. I thrived in a professional kitchen setting. My desire to learn more about the culinary field continued to grow and I knew that I had chosen the correct path for my life. Who knew that on this path I would also meet my future husband, Alan. I always knew something special would happen with my enrolling in school, but I didn’t expect something as wonderful as this.
We both graduated from school in 2005 and I immediately applied for an externship at the renowned restaurant, Seegers in Atlanta, GA. Here I received my first exposure to an actual restaurant setting. Although my time here wasn’t always smooth, took everything in stride and was always open to learning new things. My experience here was tremendous. After my externship was over, I moved back to Los Angeles and was hired at the Patina Group Restaurant, Eat on Sunset. My chef was trained at The French Laundry, in Northern California (Note: consistently rated as perhaps finest restaurant in the US – so his expectations for me were always high. Here I learned how to be an efficient line cook and eventually earned my place as a sous chef, which is the person in charge just below the executive chef.
After working at the restaurant for several years, my chef offered me a job to become a consulting chef for a new Italian concept in Pasadena, California called Porta Via Italian Foods. Here the owners, John and Vic, asked us to design and execute a menu. I enjoyed my time here but was hired solely as a consultant chef. The owners and I had a great working relationship, so when the time came for me to leave, they ended up offering a job to become their executive chef. I accepted and have been at the location for the past seven years and my time here has been an enjoyable ride. When I think of where I am today, I always think about the times where I wanted to help my grandma with cooking and she telling me that she didn’t need the help. Well, now I’m the one cooking and entertaining for the hundreds of people that come through my restaurant’s door.