Adrianne De Jesus-Davo

When I set foot in a commercial kitchen, I knew I would stay longer than I intended in this industry. It wasn’t a magical moment, with soft lighting, an afterglow, and Enya playing in the background. It was like playing the Flight of the Bumblebee on an out-of-tune violin in a creepy basement. I knew what I was up against: stainless steel, fire, fragile egos, and the inconvenience of being female in a male-dominated space. If you want to be a chef, you must have grit and a phenomenal amount of it because they won’t make it easy for you.

I discovered my passion for bread early on, but it escalated when I had the opportunity to work with a multi-award-winning chef. I called him three times (he insists it was nine) to get the chance to train under him. He was the best, so I had to learn from the best! I started a trial shift doing mundane tasks, like cleaning your section infinite times. I was placed in the pastry section when I got hired, and for a while, those mundane tasks became routine until they discovered I could write, draw, and sculpt with chocolate (thanks to my Fine Arts Degree).

My journey hasn’t been a walk in the park. I’ve stood my ground against sexism, racism, and homophobia. I stayed in this industry mainly to offer a safe space and teach without subjecting others to the fear and humiliation I experienced with old-school chefs. But on a more personal level, I stayed to learn from the grandmothers of the world – Lola, Abuela, Nonna, and Yaya. When I tell them I am a Chef, they’re so keen to train me. They taught me how to cook from the heart, something no chef could instill in me.

I recall a defining moment when I was invited to make pasta at someone’s house. Witnessing their Nonna craft pasta with a clear intention to nourish gave me a profound direction on the kind of chef I aspire to be.

It’s been 12-13 years in this industry. I reside in Canberra, Australia, and work at @lunacanberra I hope for a change where people are more considerate of our long work hours. Like everyone else, we would love to spend more time with our families.