Ai LIVE: Austin’s Chef L Discusses Culinary Paths
In this episode of Ai LIVE, host E. Vincent Martinez speaks with Chef Lorena Legarreta, CEO and Executive Producer of Dish’n Dames, about the many potential paths available in a culinary career. Legarreta runs a promotional media company dedicated to raising awareness of the significant and impactful roles of women in the culinary world, and is a Senior Culinary Instructor at The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston. There, she’s affectionally known as “Chef L.”
Legaretta mentions that teaching culinary is her passion. “I fell in love with teaching and students—and getting an opportunity to share my experiences.” She instills the importance of restaurant management and business operations into her students, often bringing in industry experts to talk about their personal experiences running a restaurant.
She’s quick to let students know that while a great menu will get them attention, a strong financial background will keep them in business.
Legaretta’s position in the culinary community had led to beneficial opportunities for her students—including working alongside famous chefs at the Austin Food and Wine Festival. An event organizer, Legaretta has set up volunteering opportunities for culinary students, allowing them to set up and prep for celebrity chefs.
“[These present] an incredible opportunity for students—and one of those lifetime experiences to get in there and learn from some of the world’s best,” she says.
Legaretta also emphasizes the need for flexibility within the culinary industry—something that was all the more important as students learned online during the pandemic. Her “whatever it takes” attitude helped her and her students to positively adapt to transitioning to a new way of learning and communicating. She even recommended that students appoint an in-house taste tester to give them feedback on their creations.
She plans to keep pushing ahead to raise the profile of female chefs through Dish’n Dames, and was proud to hold an all-female culinary event called Fork & Flame. “Having more women featured in events is a top priority.”
If you’re interested in discovering the many options that a culinary education possibly can open up, visit The Art Institutes to learn about our programs and read about what our culinary graduates are doing today. We even offer a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Management.
Learn more about our programs.Get Brochure