Women in Culinary Leadership (WCL) is an accelerated, learning-by-doing mentorship program. Offered under the auspices of the James Beard Foundation, WCL gives women with a background in hospitality or the culinary arts and at least two years of relevant work experience a chance to work with top industry leaders and build in-depth skills in the kitchen or in restaurant management and hospitality.
Lorraine Moss had her dream job as a journalist for the number one station in the Bay Area. So, what made her move to a different state, change careers, and start fresh? Find out how Border Grill’s newest WCL mentee threw caution to the wind to set out on a path of self-discovery.
1. You used to be a TV news reporter – what made you switch careers?
I had my dream job, but something was missing and I was not happy at a certain point with how journalism was going. When we had the chance to move back to Las Vegas, my husband asked, “What would you do if no one paid you any money at all?” and my answer was; cook. So, I started culinary school, and loved it. For me, it felt like the opposite of journalism. Instead of being there at people’s worst moments, I was there at people’s best moments, celebrating life and eating.
2. What skills do you bring from journalism that make you a great chef?
I work really well under pressure. Deadlines are minute to minute in news, and it’s the same with cooking. Anything can change at any second, and you have to adapt accordingly. And then of course, working with many different types of people. You work with a lot of people who want things done their way, so you have to kind of navigate that, and teach people in a way in which they can learn. In reporting, you take something obscure that was said to you by a scientist or police officer or lawyer, and translate that to what a tv audience would understand. When you’re cooking, it’s very similar to that. You’re taking something that could be very complicated and as a chef, you’ve got to break it down to its easiest element so that everyone can understand so you can get the result that you want.
3. How did you hear about the WCL program?
It was from another chef mentor that I had, and he knew that I was looking for the next step. And, actually, I was looking for female mentors, to be honest. So when this presented itself, I thought, wow if I could get this mentorship at Border Grill, I could be with two strong ladies. I haven’t had a woman boss in a long time, and I think it’s important, as a woman, to have that type of influence in your life. As much as things have changed, that glass ceiling is still very much there for a lot of careers, including the culinary industry. When you think of many top chefs – the highest paid with the biggest restaurants – most of them happen to be male. So I think it’s very important to give people an opportunity when a particular group of people hasn’t gotten a fair chance.
4. Why do you think the majority of executive chefs in restaurants tend to be men?
That’s a really good question, because when you think about cooking, it doesn’t quite jive. In many families, including American families, the female of the household is usually the cook. Not in all, but in most. So if that’s the norm, then how come when it comes to cooking professionally, it’s mostly males that are at the top? I think it’s something that hopefully the WCL is going to help address in some way. It’s so unusual to find chefs like Mary Sue and Susan, and it really shouldn’t be.
5. What advice would you give other females just starting their culinary careers?
Number one; you need mentors. Up to this point I didn’t really have very many female chef mentors, but I think you navigate differently as a female in the kitchen, so it’s good to have women role models who have paved the way and have been successful at navigating that path. Mary Sue and Susan have told me stories of what it was like to be the only two women in a kitchen. Mary Sue was the first one in her French kitchen, and then Susan was the second one in the same kitchen and that’s how they got to know each other. I think it’s so important to have those women that you can talk to, and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve mentored other women chefs before me and still talk to them, so finding a permanent mentor, someone you can always go back to is a great idea.
6. What is your favorite meal to cook for friends and family?
I come from a crazy background – my mom is Portuguese, my dad is Filipino, they’re also partly Spanish and Italian – so my cooking is all over the place just like me! There’s something that we cook a lot in Portuguese cuisine called Arroz Gordo, which translates to fat rice. It’s similar to Arroz con Pollo, except you put all different types of meat in it. There’s Portuguese sausage, hard-boiled eggs, pork chops, and of course just like most traditional Latin foods, every family has a little tweak on it. So there are different ways of making it, but it’s also kind of a way to clean out your fridge. It’s a tomato based rice with whatever meat you have, and you just throw it all in there. It reminds me of my childhood. It’s kind of like a comfort food for me. My comfort food wasn’t hot dogs and hamburgers, it was Arroz Gordo.
7. Do you have a favorite Border Grill dish?
I love the ceviches. The Peruvian Ceviche especially. I love the sauce on it. It’s spicy, it’s got that fruity element, it’s nice and bright. I’m a sucker for seafood in general, so that tends to be what I gravitate toward.
8. What is it like to be mentored by Mary Sue and Susan?
I had the Too Hot Tamales cookbook when I was a kid. So I grew up with them. I grew up with the Food Network. I remember that outside of Julia Child and Mary Sue and Susan, there were very few female chefs on TV that I grew up watching. So when I was chosen for the mentorship, I remember just freaking out with my parents.
Having them as mentors is pretty amazing. They’re both very busy, but they are always very open about allowing me to tag along. Since they have their hands in everything, I’ve had the opportunity to also have my hands in a little bit of everything they’re involved in. Also, for celebrity chefs, they spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I’ve worked with other celebrity chefs, and I wouldn’t see them for months at a time. But they’re here every week. They’re running expo, they’re on a station cooking, motivating, and trying dishes. I don’t think people realize that a lot of celebrity chefs don’t do that. It’s awesome to have not one, but two people with so much experience. Not only in the kitchen, but with writing cookbooks, starring in a TV show, events, giving back to the community – they’re all over the place. And because of that, I’m able to learn so much more than I would in any other kitchen.
1 1/2 cups Chipotle Mayonnaise (see recipe)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or canned black beans
1 1/2 cups roasted corn
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup panela cheese, cubed
1 cup tortilla strips, julienned
1/4 of an avocado, sliced
8 to 10 baby bibb lettuce leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Makes 4 cups
2 1/2 cups Best Foods mayonnaise
1 cup chipotles in adobo, seeds removed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the chipotle mayo: Puree mayo, chipotles in adobo, lime and orange juices, honey, Dijon mustard in a blender until completely combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the salad:Combine black beans, corn, red onion, cilantro, panela cheese and 1 1/4 cups of Chipotle Mayo in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place black bean and corn mixture on top of a bed of baby bibb lettuce in a large bowl.
Fry tortilla strips until crisp and finish with cayenne and salt. Garnish salad with sliced avocado and tortilla strips and serve immediately.
1 1/2 pounds fresh salmon filet*
3/4 cup Tamarind glaze
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
1 Tbsp. freshly cracked black peppercorns
For the glaze:
3 Tbsp. tamarind paste (in block form)
1 cup hot water
6 dry panca peppers or 3 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and toasted
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of ½ lemon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soften the tamarind in 1/2 cup of the hot water and push through a sieve. Soften the toasted chiles in the other 1/2 cup hot water and put in blender along with orange juice, lemon juice, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil and dry mustard. Puree until smooth, add the tamarind puree and the honey and blend well. Strain into a small sauce pot and simmer 5-10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat broiler and season the salmon filets on all sides. Broil at close range to slightly brown the fish, about 2 minutes per side. Glaze each filet generously and sprinkle with fennel seeds and cracked pepper. Broil 2-3 minutes more, until fish is just cooked and glaze is bubbly, seeds are toasted. Serve immediately atop cumin scented cabbage and quinoa pilaf with tangerine salsa.
Makes 1 cup
6 tangerines, supremed
1/2 habanero pepper, seeded, fine julienne
1/2 small jicama, peeled and julienned
1/4 small red onion, fine julienne
1/2 bunch cilantro, rough chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns
Combine all ingredients, season with salt and pepper. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 day.
3 oz. whole butter
2 tsps. whole cumin seeds
1/2 head cabbage, cored, sliced thin
1/2 lime, juiced
sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns
Melt the butter with the cumin seeds on low flame and cook 4-5 minutes until aromas are released. Add cabbage, cover, and cook slowly, until cabbage is steamed and tender, but not overcooked. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime. Serve immediately.
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 small white onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 small bulb fennel, finely diced
1 cup organic quinoa, rinsed
1 3/4 cup water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt butter in a medium saucepan and add vegetables. Sweat over medium heat until onions are limp, about 5-6 minutes. Add Quinoa, increase heat to high and saute 2-3 minutes. Add water, salt and pepper, cover and cook 12-15 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Serve immediately.
* Great news for all the salmon lovers out there! You can now purchase farmed salmon with an ASC or MSC label, from anywhere in the world, and know that the product is a Seafood Watch Good Alternative recommendation.
Melt butter and whisk together with brown sugar then add spices and vanilla bean scrapings. Add plum halves and toss to coat well. Lightly butter 14 ramekins. Fill the bottom of each ramekin with plums (skin side down) and some of the sugar/butter/spice mixture.
To make cake batter: Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Combine milk and vanilla. Add dry and wet ingredients to butter/sugar mixture alternately mixing between additions, scraping the bottom of the bowl often. Divide evenly between the ramekins, filling only about 2/3 of the way.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert onto dessert plates and serve warm with Ginger Crema Sorbet.
Ginger Crema Sorbet
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups crema or crème fraiche
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons ginger juice (strained from grated ginger)
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until all sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
When syrup is cool, combine with the crema, lemon juice, and ginger juice. Adjust flavors as necessary. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow manufacture’s instructions. Caution: This sorbet can become over mixed quite quickly.