My name is Amy Smith.

I can’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t immersed in the kitchen. Growing up in New Jersey, I consistently found myself alongside my mother or grandmothers, “helping” them cook. Since I was 8, I told everyone I wanted to become a chef. I debated other routes during my teenage years but always returned to the kitchen.

I’ve worked in various kitchens for almost a decade since receiving my Baking and Pastry and Food Service Management degrees at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. At 19, I attended a culinary internship in South Carolina, thinking it was a baking internship. It turned out to be at an upscale golf resort, and although I’ve cooked a lot, I never had to at that level professionally. However, I learned how to adapt and ended up not only loving it but excelling at it.

In my senior year, needing money, I started working at a coffee shop in Rhode Island to make money. Thinking I’d be there for 3 months tops, I stayed for almost 3 years. Within this role, I helped to build their food program and grew into management roles where I learned a whole other aspect of the business. Dealing with guests and becoming close with regulars showed me how much I loved not only the back of the house but the front of the house.

An invaluable lesson learned is that staying comfortable hinders growth. So I moved to another coast, San Diego, and went back to a line cook role. Because of my love for both the front and back of the house, I have been fortunate to work the bar and kitchen @marisilajolla . Now I’m back in the kitchen working under executive Chef Cameron.

To my fellow cooks, adapt, trust the process, and work with people who recognize your strengths and weaknesses. I hope to see more and more women involved in higher-level kitchens. The industry is improving and moving in that direction, but being the only woman in spaces in this industry is still too common.

What is your favorite street food?


Which restaurant or food stand do you recommend? (Different from yours) (Add its Instagram handle if possible)

Communal Coffee @communalcoffee

What is your guilty pleasure?


What ingredient do you find overrated?


What ingredient do you think is underrated?


What is your favorite kitchen tool?


What is your worst kitchen nightmare?

Ticket machine never stopping

Interview & 📸by @mwatsonnyc official HOTK Reporter in San Diego 🌊