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Penny Davidi

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Current job(s): US FOODS Culinary Specialist/BDM & Menu Curator at PUMP
Years in the industry: 11
Notable awards / employers: Winner of Food Network‘s Chopped All-stars, Contestant on Food Network Star and Cutthroat Kitchen


You have 2 kids, a husband and a very successful culinary career. What’s your typical day look like and how do you juggle the “Chef’s Life”?
Balancing my life is not easy but I do my best to make it work! I start every morning with Zumba… throw on my Chef Coat and hit the streets visiting with multiple restaurants to revamp or spruce up back or front of the house. Home in time for dinner and yes, I love to cook for my family… they are my biggest fans!

What is your inspiration and motivation in your day-to-day routine?
My children are what keep me going. Being the best role model for them is possibly all the inspiration I need to succeed.

What is the most difficult part of your day as a chef?
Most difficult part is insulting a chef who’s got a different opinion and feels that I am there to take their jobs. OYE!

What are the most rewarding things about your profession?
Most rewarding is the instant gratification I get when someone takes a bite and loves something I have created for them. Voila! 

Click here for recipe
Click here for recipe

What is your food philosophy?
My food philosophy is “cook from the heart”. You can always taste positive energy and love in a dish… and keep dishes to 5 ingredients or less. 

What is your leadership philosophy?
As a leader in the industry, it is my job to show others that they can do it too. Just follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What is your claim to fame? 
I won the Food Network Magazine’s Best Pizza Contest with a full spread in the magazine. I made a Mediterranean Eggplant and Feta Cheese Pizza.

What are the sponsored brands/companies you have and are currently representing?
I represent US FOODS and FOOD FANATICS, Maui Sugar and Naturel Agave, Villa Group Resorts, Oceania Cruises, DeLeon Tequila, Popkoffs, 9 Bar Coffee, LostCar Chef and Campbell’s Soup. 

What is your most memorable meal or food related memory?
My most memorable meal was at the Maskekasi Resort in Bodrum, Turkey.  All hand picked produce, great olive oils, rustic breads and feta cheese. Simply the most decadent meal ever. 

What was the biggest ”break” in your career?
Trying out for The Food Network Star, at the audition I decided to make a very traditional Persian dish that I learned from my grandmother, it was risky but it paid off because I had a great story and my legacy continues as I pass those recipes to my daughters.

Is there anything you refuse to eat or anything you only eat if you cook it yourself?
I won’t eat Spam! No way.

You’re known as the Food Network’s 1st Middle-Eastern badass chef! What makes a badass chef and how’d you get the reputation?
I’m real. No nonsense! I call it like I see it. I am focused and determined to creating my empire and won’t let anything stand in my way! And I like to wear a ton of bling while cooking and competing.

If you could change 1 thing about the food industry, what would it be?
Not enough credit given to the underdogs and newer chefs. It’s all about the Food Network Stars.

Do you follow food trends? If yes, name those you would keep and those you would dump.
Yes I do! Love the farm to table movement and everything kale and quinoa. Dump the Gluten free.

Click here for recipe
Click here for recipe

What are your pet peeves in the kitchen at home, a friend’s kitchen, and at work?
People who pick their teeth with their nails while cooking… eeewwwww! And don’t scratch your head either… 
If you could give every home cook one technique, skill, or advice to create more delicious meals at home what would it be?
Stock your pantry with great quality essentials like Olive Oils, assorted salts, vinegars and produce! Fresh herbs are mandatory for your survival. 
What are some local famers & purveyors in your area that you recommend?
My local Farmers Markets in Studio City and Beverly Hills Farmers Market.
Who were your culinary role models growing up and who are they today?
My grandmother and my mother were and still are my role models in the kitchen. 
Culinary School…Yea or nay?
I am not professionally trained and I feel that gives me the advantage and skills to think outside the box!
What is your definition of success in our industry?
Having your own product line in the supermarket means you have arrived and then some. 
What are your culinary and career goals? Life goals?
I want my own show on TV, covering ethnic food from around the country.  I want my product line on the shelves and books… lots and lots of sexy colorful cookbooks… and a naughty apron line, of course! 
How did you find Chef’s Roll and what urged you to join?
I love the culture of foodies that Chef’s Roll has created and what an incredible evolving community. 
What’s next for you?
I am building an empire… one culinary mission at a time! Stay tuned… So much more to come!

Learn more about Chef Penny Davidi on her Chef’s Roll profile HERE.
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