We catch up with Chef Cristina Bowerman and get her take on the future of the industry
1. Can you tell us about your current role?
I am the Head Chef of my two restaurants, located in Rome, Italy: Glass Hostaria, awarded one Michelin Star in 2010, and Romeo Chef&Baker. This is actually a multi-functional location that includes a cocktail bar, our pizzeria Giulietta, a conference center and an ice-cream shop, Frigo. Also, Romeo holds a corner at the local market of Testaccio, where people can buy bread, pizza, ice-cream and street-food.
2. What has been some of the highlights of this position?
My businesses and activities keep me very busy: there is a lot to do and care about, in order to keep things running. The good part about it, though, is doing a job I love and making my dishes accessible to as many people as possible. You may have a fancy dinner at Glass or get a sandwich at Romeo at the market, but my concern is always the same: keeping quality high. As a matter of fact, my goal is bringing high cuisine to street level and not confined into fine-dining restaurants.
3. Can you tell us a bit about your career before this current position?
I have done many different things before deciding to become a Chef. I graduated from Law School in 1990 and in 1992 I left Italy for San Francisco. In the U.S.A., I got a job as a graphic designer and that’s where my creativity came out: I thought it could be much of use inside the kitchen as well, so I decided to turn my big passion for cooking into my profession. I joined a Culinary Arts course in Austin, Texas, while at the same time I was gaining experience working in prestigious restaurants, like the Driskill Grill. I graduated in 2004, I came back to Italy in 2005 and I ended up remaining there, when the founder of Glass Hostaria asked me to work together and become the Head Chef of the restaurant.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?
Running a business is not easy, especially in Italy, where the complex procedures of our bureaucracy make things harder. Also, one of my biggest concerns are women Chefs, by giving them the chances they deserve, because most times the world of gastronomy is dominated by male figures, while there are many prepared and talented women. In general, I care a lot about involving in my projects people with disabilities, refugees, students: nowadays, promoting the work of minorities is still a big challenge.
5. What do you see as a possible solution to the growing shortage of chefs?
The first thing to do is giving good advice to people who are willing to start this career. That’s why I think that high-level education and training are main issues. Also, supporting young colleagues is very important to me. They need to know that our path is demanding and things are very different from what they see in TV shows. Professional cooking requires a lot of studying, discipline and effort but, if you take it seriously, it can be the most rewarding and fascinating job of the world!