Chef Antonia Lofaso and Wallaby Organic empower culinary dreams, exclusive

Chef Antonia Lofaso & Wallaby Organic launch grant program for chefs, photo provided by Wallaby Organic
Chef Antonia Lofaso & Wallaby Organic launch grant program for chefs, photo provided by Wallaby Organic /

When a stunning plate of food arrives at the table, that delicious bite is more than just perfectly balanced flavor in a memorable presentation. The chef who has prepared that food has put her passion, her dedication and her dreams into a meal that lingers in the diner’s memories. But, that chef’s culinary dreams may not be quite as magical as the food on the table. Chef Antonia Lofaso and Wallaby Organic are committed to transforming those culinary dreams into tangible reality.

The hospitality industry has been hard hit in the past year. While diners can appreciate the loss when doors are shuttered and the lights are off, those visual manifestations are just one aspect of the difficulties that have faced the hospitality industry. For the chefs and the food community, the pitfalls are more than just not having a place to unpack their knives.

According to Wallaby Organic, restaurants and chefs face numerous challenges in today’s climate. From staffing shortages to culinary school debt, the reality is that it is time to peel back the restaurant façade. While there will always be a portion of “restaurant hustle” within the industry, it is time to outstretch a hand to support all that hard work and dedication.

That reasoning is at the heart of this collaboration between Chef Antonia Lofaso and Wallaby Organic. The Wallaby Culinary Dream Contest looks to empower culinary creators who inspire others to strive for success. Though this program, the idea is to reward the dream beyond the accolades when the food is savored. It is about giving those culinary creators the foundation to foster their dreams and turn them into reality.

As Lauren Baum, Senior Brand Manager at Wallaby Organic, said “Wallaby is looking forward to giving back to food makers and food lovers—or those with a passion for cooking—because without them, we wouldn’t be here.” Through this Wallaby Culinary Dream Contest, culinary creators can choose their passion with the support of others.

Antonia Lofaso shares her struggles, triumphs, and culinary dreams

During a recent conversation with Antonia Lofaso about her partnership with Wallaby Organic on the Wallaby Culinary Dream Contest, the celebrated chef was very candid about the struggles still facing the restaurant industry. As a restaurateur, she faced the devastating choice of furloughing her employees. Those words of “I’m sorry” were fraught with sadness. It was more than just turning off the lights. It was removing a location where people fostered their passion.

As Lofaso said, chefs are very creative people, and they need a creative outlet. When all of these people lost that routine, it was almost as if “they lost their identity.” Lofaso said that she past year and a half that she spent plenty of time TED talking her employees to boost their morale.

Although that concept might not be instantly identifiable in a chef’s knife roll, the reality is that mentorship within the culinary community is vital to success. That strong voice, guiding hand and shoulder of support is just as important as the recipes and cooking techniques learned in culinary school.

For Lofaso, she believes that mentoring is vital to the culinary community. She said, “it is our duty to mentor the next generation of cooks and chefs.” Being able to share all of the knowledge collected over her years of being in the restaurant industry is the “best part of her job.”

Looking back at her career, Lofaso is grateful for the relationships that she has made. Notes from chefs that have impacted her life and journey touch her deeply. For her, that connection between chefs is one of the reasons why the culinary community can be so empowering.

To this day, Lofaso hears from chefs who worked at her restaurants. Those full circle moments have not only impacted the chefs that she has mentored but continue to push her forward to strive for better.

As Lofaso commented, these chefs feel that their time together made their lives better in the best possible way, but those moments are not finite. Whether the impact is realized in the moment or doesn’t reveal itself till many years down the road, the connection is always present.

In many ways, that connection and support is what the Wallaby Culinary Dream Contest looks to capture. Since Lofaso wants to align herself with brands who do better, this opportunity continues the efforts that she does in her own kitchen. Through mentoring, advice and even just listening, those culinary dreams are more than just lofty goals made on a wish and a prayer. They move one step closer to becoming reality.

When people are aligned with the same goals, the journey seems less daunting. As the restaurant industry begins to flourish again, it needs culinary dreamers to join the community unlike any other. From creativity to the desire to nurture, a chef is more than a technician who executes a perfectly prepared plate of food. That chef is the orchestrator of the flavors that permeate life’s important memories.

If you know culinary student or culinary school graduate within the past 10 years whose passion deserves recognition, encourage them to enter the Wallaby Culinary Dream Contest. The contest runs now through September 13, 2021. For more information on the contest and how to enter, please visit the brand’s website.

Related Story. Jonathan Waxman talks California cuisine and collaborations, interview. light

The next time that you enjoy a celebratory dinner with family, a meal that will be etched in your memory or just a plate of food that makes you smile, say a thank you to the person who made it happen. That word of gratitude might only take a moment, but it can be the positive affirmation someone else needs.