{video & bio} Momma Cuisine Pilot Episode

Today is the official launch of my newest project as Momma Cuisine, the Momma Cuisine Show channel on YouTube. I have been working on the Momma Cuisine Show for quite some time now, conceptualizing and figuring out how to make it happen. Actually, I have been  dreaming about this for much longer than you think. Even as I sit here watching this first episode, I see how far I have come, and still to go (cringe). The journey has definitely been exciting and rewarding, thus far.

As a young girl, I enjoyed the same popular TV shows as everyone else my age. But, I also often enjoyed watching, and studied Martin Yan, Two Fat Ladies, and Julia Child on PBS. Then came Martha Stewart and during my highschool years, the beginning of the Food Network. My parents and I were devoted Emeril Lagasse fans and loved watching how he made cooking so fun. I started to dream about melding entrepreneurship, food and writing together somehow.

In college, I bounced around from fashion design major to magazine journalism, when I had the realization that I wanted to make two things I was fond and passionate about into a life-long career, food and writing.

When I moved to Chicago in 2002, I enrolled at Columbia College and thought that if I was going to write about food, that I’d better find a job at a restaurant so I knew what I was writing about. I then got a job as a hostess at California Pizza Kitchen on North Avenue and Sheffield in Lincoln Park.

I quickly got very involved working for CPK. The company at that time was seeing a great expansion in the Midwest, and especially Chicagoland. I was completely amazed about how carefully crafted restaurant operations was day in and day out. Not one day was exactly like the next, everything moving so fast and chaotic, yet everything seemed to always fall into place.

With California Pizza Kitchen, I was quickly chosen to help open new restaurant locations as a part of the corporate training team. It was an opportunity I could not pass up. I took a break (I never went back) from school and did everything I could to learn and soak up all the information I could possibly attain. It was one of the best (and most difficult) times in my career. Anyone who is in the restaurant industry knows that it’s a complete lifestyle change that you either hate or love….sometimes you can’t decide. At this time, I completely loved it!

After the restaurant opening and helping out with a few more locations in Chicago, I begged to become a manager. Taking on this responsibility (I can’t believe they let me!), was definitely challenging for a young, undisciplined, and green person. Yet, I took the challenge. I made lots (TONS) of mistakes, everything I did wrong, yet I loved it. I learned quickly that every little detail may not make sense on it’s own, but makes complete sense in the grand scheme of things; the big picture. Working at California Pizza Kitchen, actually taught me things beyond my career. I learned so many life lessons that I still take with me to this day, thanks to my mentor, Fred Morgan, who is now the COO of Oregano’s Pizza Bistro in Arizona (shout out!), as well as my peers who have become life-long friends.

Fast forward to 2008 where I have moved to on to ZED451 as a front-of-the-house manager. ZED was where I was aspiring to be, in fine-dining, scratch made menu, extreme attention to every single detail. Yet, in this scene I was the newbie, the rookie, the one that came from chain operations. I had to prove and earn respect and show my chops. I loved it!

As my career started to go in the direction I was planning, my family was growing as well. Both seemed to be great. Yet, the high demand of both entities started to get to me. Spending every single major holiday at the restaurant wasn’t fun anymore. I loathed closing down the bar and schmoozing with obnoxious businessmen.  I just wanted to be home. Then I got pregnant with my third child.

I started to grow really unhappy. If I decided to leave the restaurant business, where would I go? What on God’s green earth would I do? I don’t know anything else!  I didn’t finish school! I started to think that I had totally messed up. I then took a job which I told myself would be a complete downgrade, a manager and Training Specialist for a franchise of Panera Bread. I hated it…completely hated it!

To start to make sense of it all, I wanted needed an escape. A friend then told me about this thing everyone was starting to do called “blogging”. She explained it this way; “It’s basically an online journal”. I researched a couple of blogs, which were unmemorable, and decided to then just write my thoughts and love of food. My first blog post was created in August of 2009, titled, “Why Blog?”.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought there would be a way for me to fulfill dreams and passions that I was sure were long gone, through social media. Never would I have thought, in August 2009, while questioning my career and life choices, that blogging and social media would have such a great and positive impact in my life. Never would I have known that I would have an outlet to share my knowledge and growth experiences, recipes, writings and now cooking show, to an audience who are truly interested and engaged.  It really is amazing.

Social media is definitely a powerful tool. One day, our kids will be enrolling in the Medill School of Journalism’s social media program! There are so many tricks and secrets on how to get the most social media exposure. And I am no expert. However, I write from the heart. I share my passions and have learned how to connect with the like-minded people behind the Twitter handle. It’s like in the restaurant world where we say that a great experience is the best advertisement. I want to give readers and followers a great experience with Momma Cuisine. But nothing is truly great without passion and attention to detail.

So I say to anyone who has been dreaming of turning a passion and dream into a reality, follow your passions and be sincere, success is on the horizon!

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