250+ amazing women in culinary applied to Center Stage, and Jessica Tiffany Luevano was one of two chosen to receive an all-expense paid trip to the event and be introduced to prestigious female mentors like Dayanny Delacruz,Tanya Holland, and Ani Meinhold. Chef Jessica was given the opportunity to let her skills shine at the event’s Food & Wine Festival on Monday night.
Check out her amazing dish below and a few Q&As on Chef Jessica’s culinary journey thus far!
Jessica Tiffany Luevano is the Chef de Cuisine at the Bourbon Room Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA.
Chef’s Roll: What and where was your first BOH gig?
Jessica Tiffany Luevano: I applied for a position at USC early on during my culinary school externship. They came to the Cordon Bleu and had interviews. I was a nervous wreck during my interview. I thought, “I am not going to get it; I talked too much and was jittery! There is no way they’ll pick me for a job”.
But, I was called back for a tasting at USC. It was me and two other female chefs, which was cool. We tested for three positions at three different restaurants throughout the campus. One particular chef, Joe Ledesma, called me out in the middle of my tasting in front of all the other chefs for deviating from the recipe I was meant to follow. I thought, “He hates me; I am not going to get this job because I deviated!”. I remember grabbing my tools and almost running to my car after that. I was rattled, and my first experience with a tasting.
Yet, that same day I got a call from Chef Joe, who offered me the job at the Lab Gastropub at USC! He told me I had left so fast that he didn’t have time to offer me the job in person. I had such a fantastic experience, and what was amazing was having both strong female and male colleagues in leadership roles that were very engaged in making our BOH team a family.
CR: You are preparing to open a new restaurant with your team in Inglewood.How has that experience been for you?
JTL: It’s been a great experience being part of the opening team meetings, where I have been exposed to laying the groundwork for opening a restaurant from the ground up. It’s my first time building a kitchen and being part of the conversation regarding what would work best for the space, team, and overall flow.
In addition, this project will be located in Inglewood, and I want to make it a place for the community. I want to ensure Inglewood gets only good and new eyes because this community has always been more than just stadiums; it’s a community with so much history.
CR:Being in a leadership role now in, what has been the hardest and the most rewarding?
JTL: The hardest throughout my career has been dealing with colleagues, predominantly male chefs, who don’t respect me when giving directions in the kitchen. I am very poised and direct when in the kitchen.
Being in leadership positions as a young female chef was hard, especially in my 20s. It’s gotten easier as I’ve gotten older. I am sure it took work for someone 30+ my senior to take orders from someone in their 20s. But all I want is the same respect and understanding. I got to these leadership positions because of my hard work and years of experience.
The most rewarding has been being part of the conversation and holding various leadership positions in a predominantly male-dominated industry. I am excited to keep molding and creating a team where I can give more female chefs the confidence to work in a kitchen and follow their passion.
CR:Tell us all about your experience with Center Stage and the MAPP conference.
JTL: I loved being a part of Center Stage! Interacting with the fantastic female chefs who participated in the event was incredible. Sharing this experience with Chef Amber, the other Center Stage winner, was also excellent. The ultimate highlight was creating new friendships with Chef Amber, the Chef’s Roll Team, and my mentor Chef Dayanny Delacruz.
Now I know I can root for chefs on the East Coast!
CR:What have you learned from your Center Stage mentors?
JTL: Chef Dayanny was an incredible support throughout this experience! Even after the event, we are still in close contact, and I know I can reach out to her if I ever need advice or guidance on something. We’ve even talked about planning a trip for me to return to Miami for a one-on-one mentorship with her at one of the many facilities she is a part of, which is fantastic!
She has run some of the country’s most extensive facilities/locations while still being a mom – that is so inspiring. To have a connection with her and continued mentorship from someone that has achieved a lot in our industry is beyond belief.