Working with food be it cooking, serving, shopping and even growing my own has been a long time passion for me. Not only has it afforded me a way to make a living doing something I love but it has also brought me to meet and be around myriads of diverse people, communities and locations.
My culinary career started a bit unconventionally and I like to share the story with aspiring (chefs or ‘chefs to be’) that there are many ways to achieve your goals that don’t necessarily mean attending expensive culinary schools. By no means do I shun this, as there is no doubt a lot to be learned in that environment and indeed as I have worked for/through Pared these last few years I have and continue to learn things from chefs skilled in ways that I have not formally been schooled in. I greatly respect their education and knowledge.
I started my love of cooking only in my early 20’s when at the same time I was learning to garden and the beautiful food that I was able to grow needed a medium and an audience to be shared with. I was fortunate enough to find myself living in situations where people often gathered. I soon fell into the joy of creating, preparing and serving these groups as providing food was often necessary in the more rural environments I was in.
In addition my love of food in those early years brought me to small cooking jobs in interesting settings…. From a hip (at the time) and funky little tavern in Portland area… to being night chef at a small beachside restaurant on a beach in southern Costa Rica. In between I worked off and on as a server in fine dining and for a popular event destination in their large and multi-event catering venue.
I later moved to a high volume retreat and conference center in the Oregon Mountains and became a member of the ‘kitchen team’, which demanded learning all aspects of the food service part of that business. Everything from creating menus, ordering, inventory, hiring, being a ‘team coordinator’, doing dishes, serving and… oh..yes…. cooking for 80 to hundreds of people daily. So much was to be learned in this collaborative environment. Each cook bringing their skills, passions and special expertise and the opportunity to glean and learn from them and share my own! It was at this time in my life that I was divorcing and needing to make enough of a living to support myself wholly and with gathering all the previous experiences working with and around food and embracing the work with a focused passion I ventured out on my own starting my own ‘retreat catering business’. After the first year of building the business (and being quite poor while doing so), word of mouth picked up and I have enjoyed a successful and deeply satisfying career cooking for groups on site with them for multi-day events for almost 2 decades now! These retreats are also punctuated throughout the year with occasional event functions.
Three years ago, I was invited to San Francisco to help with a project (non-profit) for something unrelated to food and decided to take a sabbatical from my retreat business. I needed to find a way to make a few bucks while down here and when I heard about Pared it was perfect! I love Pared for its flexibility in scheduling myself as needed. Now I live in both Portland and San Francisco and when I am down here I can turn on the app and pick up work when needed and when I am up there I continue with my own business, which is based in Oregon. It really makes it possible for me to live this current multi-city lifestyle.
Pared’s availability and response to my questions, concerns and inquiries has been stellar.
When I started with Pared they were fairly new and I have been delighted and amazed to watch their platform continually improve and expand. I always felt a sense of personal connection when I’ve reached out with questions or a problem. Pared’s availability and response to my questions, concerns and inquiries has been stellar. Having been with Pared for a few years now I recognize a community and there is often a warm hello and connection between us. It’s not only been an amazing way to take in the fabulous city of San Francisco and also a great way to see how different catering companies operate and to continue to grow and learn in the industry.
I hope someday they decide to move into Portland. I’d love to be a part of making that happen from an administrative point but also love to see this available to my Oregon home community! Pared rocks!