Q: What is your role with the AGA?
I’m the Executive Chef at May, the restaurant at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Q: What part of your role that you enjoy the most?
What I enjoy the most is to constantly be able to change the menu. So if I feel like it’s time to let a dish go, I just go and create the next. And that’s exactly how art happens. Sometimes I wander through the art gallery and go back to what I studied. I studied Art History before and when I kind of feel inspired, I head back to the local farmers and create something different.
Q: How would you describe yourself in one word?
Driven/passionate/intense. I care a lot. About all things. Very caring about my environment, my community, people and everything around me.
Q: What way do you think you are helping to break the bias around gender discrimination and stereotyping in your environment?
First of all, I treat everyone with dignity. We are all the same. I am very self-aware of how I run my kitchen. I consider myself in a very mothering, caring role, and I approach this in a very different way. I am a queer person but I also know I have white privilege. I want to make sure that I create a place for everyone. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your budget is, what you are or what you identify with. I want to create a place where everyone feels like they are entering my house, and I invited them in. I hope that our guests, people who come through here, feel welcome. That’s the sharing idea. I often hear people say, “Oh my God, you’re the chef?” Am I a female? Do I look too laid back? Am I too young or too old? I don’t know. I’m a single parent, so I carry all of that too. I always make a point that this is possible: you can still achieve your goals even though you are not in the position you think you should be. You create a nice place around you, and you have support from the people who love you and respect you. That really helps cut through that stereotyping.
Q: What is the thing that you wish you knew before and now can share?
I try to not dwell too much on the past. The pandemic really taught me I must go day by day. I can't think too far in the future. Every day we are facing new challenges in every way. We cannot know what’s coming. We have no control over it. I try to be very organized throughout my week and I know what I can count on what I can’t. Letting go of that is helpful; it can cause a lot of frustration but knowing we can deal with all of that now. Having the power to say okay, day by day and it’s fine. We know everything is unpredictable and we are trying our very best to predict it.
Q: Who is the woman who inspired you in your life and why?
I get inspired by the people around me. I consider myself a very social person. So even having conversations with strangers I feel extremely inspired. They just give you something and then you march on and think, oh, that was really lovely and then something comes out of this. I try to have that and it takes a long time to allow yourself to have that. Often, we feel we are alone in this and that we don’t have the support and then someone comes along and gives us this really beautiful moment.
Q: If there is one thing that you’d ask us all to do to break the bias, what will that be?
I can only say to always reflect on yourself. We are all in charge of our actions. The way we move through the world will affect others. If I’m choosing to be a horrible person and make someone’s life even worse, then that’s in my power. I can only choose what I am, and that will reflect on others. If we all step back sometimes and think, what can I give that makes this person a touch better? Then I am already there. I look at myself, and I think, what can I do to make your life a little better? Sometimes it's just a little tap to just check in with someone and ask how they’re doing. I often find people don’t even want to look at you and engage. I don’t know what they're scared of. We are all the same; we are all one kind, and people forget that sometimes and they are just always thinking about themselves. Breaking that habit and doing something for someone else can bring things full circle and I think that could improve things. That’s what I try to teach my children. Before we take, we give.