With “Today” show appearances and now, an award as the best cooking instructor from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Chef Candy is all around inspiring. Proving if you find what you love and do it, great things happen. As an accomplished triathlete, Chef Candy lives the doB mission, proving that strong women really can do it all…and more.
“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.” – Marcel Boulestin
Who: Chef Candy Argondizza, Chef
Where: The International Culinary Center in New York City
Who has been the biggest influence in your life, personally or professionally? My nana, both personally and professionally.
When did you first fall in love with food? Growing up in an Italian family, we always had good food around.
What was your first cooking job? While I was in college, I cooked for the food service company that supplied food to the students, Saga Foods. This is when I realized I wanted to cook professionally.
Who has been your major influence? Hard to say. I’ve had many.
What were some difficulties you faced on the road to success? Like all young cooks starting out, long hours, late nights, holidays and weekends.
Describe the challenges facing today’s chef. We have an educated, fickle audience these days with changes happening faster than you can imagine. Until recently, the proportion of men to women in culinary schools (and the restaurant industry as a whole) has been uneven. Just 25 years ago, the percentage hovered somewhere below ten percent. Today, women and men attend culinary school in equal proportions, however the number of male culinary professionals remains higher.
Can you explain the challenges women may face? Women face the reality of having to make decisions that men don’t need to make. Children, hardships on relationships due to crazy hours and physical rigors of the industry. I think women struggle with “having it all.”
Has the popularization of gourmet chefs on TV and in media created headaches or opportunity for celebrity chefs? Both. Becoming a serious chef takes years of honing your craft. TV often trivializes this process. On the other hand, TV and print have exploded the possibilities within the industry.
If you had to choose a favorite breakfast, lunch or dinner recipe, what would it be? Breakfast: Steel cut oats with maple syrup and banana; Lunch: fish taco; Dinner: veal Milanese with angel hair marinara.
What advice would you give to aspiring chefs? Immerse yourself into the industry by working hard, reading everything you can get your hands on and taste, taste, taste.
What is your idea of a great meal or dining experience? Favorite NYC restaurant? Tough question. I have many favorite dining experiences, everything from sushi to Eleven Madison Park. It all depends on my mood. Many favorite places, depending on the cuisine.
What do you think of molecular food…soulless or inspiring? Inspiring. Always have an open mind to new ways of thinking about food and doing classics.
Tell us about your greatest success? Every time I receive an email or letter from a past student telling me that I helped make their dreams come true, thanking me, is an unbelievable feeling.
What do you enjoy most about cooking? I love the creative outlet cooking provides, the physicalness of cooking and the pleasure it brings people.
As a chef, how hard is it to maintain a healthy diet? How do you stay fit? I rarely sit down to eat when in the kitchen, but I taste a lot. Everything in moderation, plus I’m extremely active which helps with my weight and stress level.
What would you say to someone who is intimidated by cooking and won’t set foot in the kitchen? I tell new students all the time to leave your fears at the door. Learning how to cook should be a joyful experience, not that it’s easy, but it is extremely gratifying.
Take a whisk in life, you never know what fun you might cook up.