When a stunning plate of food arrives at the table, that delicious bite is more than perfectly balanced flavor in a memorable presentation. The chef who prepared this food poured his passion, dedication and dreams into a meal that will be remembered by the restaurant. But this chef’s culinary dreams may not be as magical as the food on the table. Chef Antonia Lofaso and Wallaby Organic are committed to turning these culinary dreams into tangible reality.
The hospitality industry was hit hard last year. While diners may appreciate the loss when doors are closed and lights are turned off, these visual manifestations are only one aspect of the difficulties facing the hospitality industry. For chefs and the food community, the pitfalls are more than not having a place to unwrap their knives.
According to Wallaby Organic, restaurants and chefs face many challenges in the current climate. From staff shortages to culinary school debt, the reality is that it’s time to pull the restaurant’s facade off. While there’s still some “restaurant turmoil” within the industry, it’s time to reach out to support all that hard work and dedication.
This reasoning is at the heart of this collaboration between chef Antonia Lofaso and Wallaby Organic. The Wallaby Culinary Dream competition aims to empower culinary creators who inspire others to strive for success. Although this program, the idea is to reward the dream beyond accolades when the food is savored. It’s about giving these culinary creators the basics to nurture their dreams and turn them into reality.
As Lauren Baum, Senior Brand Manager at Wallaby Organic, said, “Wallaby is eager to give back to food makers and cooking enthusiasts, or those with a passion for cooking, because without them, we wouldn’t be there. Through this Wallaby Culinary Dream Contest, culinary creators can choose their passion with the support of others.
Antonia Lofaso shares her struggles, triumphs and culinary dreams
In a recent conversation with Antonia Lofaso about her partnership with Wallaby Organic on the Wallaby Culinary Dream Contest, the celebrity chef was very candid about the challenges the restaurant industry still faces. As a restaurateur, she faced the devastating choice of furloughing her employees. Those words “I’m sorry” were full of sadness. It was more than turning off the lights. It was removing a place where people fed their passion.
As Lofaso said, chefs are very creative people and they need a creative outlet. When all these people lost that routine, it was almost as if “they had lost their identity”. Lofaso said she spent a year and a half spending a lot of time at TED talking to her employees to cheer them up.
While this concept may not be immediately identifiable in a chef’s knife roll, the reality is that mentorship within the culinary community is critical to success. That strong voice, that supportive hand and shoulder are just as important as the recipes and cooking techniques learned in culinary school.
For Lofaso, she believes mentorship is vital to the culinary community. She said: “It is our job to mentor the next generation of cooks and chefs.” Being able to share all the knowledge gained during his years in the restaurant industry is the “best part of his job”.
Looking back on her career, Lofaso is grateful for the relationships she has made. The chef’s notes that have marked her life and career affect her deeply. For her, this connection between chefs is one of the reasons the culinary community can be so empowering.
To this day, Lofaso hears from chefs who have worked in his restaurants. These full-circle moments have not only impacted the chefs she has mentored, but continue to push her forward to improve.
As Lofaso commented, these chefs feel like their time together has enhanced their lives in the best possible way, but those times aren’t over. Whether the impact is realized in the moment or only revealed many years later, the connection is always there.
In many ways, this connection and support is what the Wallaby Culinary Dream Contest seeks to capture. Since Lofaso wants to align with brands that are doing better, this opportunity extends the efforts she is making in her own kitchen. Through mentorship, guidance, and even just listening, these culinary dreams are more than just lofty goals fulfilled on a wish and a prayer. They take a step closer to reality.
When people are aligned with the same goals, the journey seems less daunting. As the restaurant industry begins to thrive again, it needs culinary dreamers to join the community like no other. From creativity to the desire to nurture, a chef is more than a technician who executes a perfectly prepared plate of food. This chef is the orchestrator of the flavors that permeate the important memories of life.
If you know a culinary student or culinary school graduate in the past 10 years whose passion deserves recognition, encourage them to enter the Wallaby Culinary Dream contest. The competition now runs until September 13, 2021. For more information about the competition and how to enter, please visit the brand website.
The next time you enjoy a celebratory family dinner, a meal that will stick in your memory, or just a plate of food that will put a smile on your face, say thank you to the person who made it possible. That word of gratitude may only take a moment, but it could be the positive affirmation someone else needs.