I was born in Orsay, France. My love for the kitchen began when I turned 18 and became independent, I immediately started cooking for my friends, and it became my passion. Soon after, I was fortunate to be offered a rotating position that allowed me to discover all the possible roles in the kitchen. Now I’ve worked in the industry for 8 years and live in Hossegor.

This industry is unique because it has infinite creative possibilities and brings happiness to customers. Seeing the customer’s smiles and satisfaction always motivates me despite difficult moments. I’m grateful because the kitchen has boosted my self-confidence and has taught me to never give up, even in hard times.

One of the things I love the most about cooking is working with local, seasonal produce. Good products allow me to express my creativity.

That is why I offer a tailor-made service for a unique experience in the comfort of people’s homes. My cuisine is inventive, instinctive, generous, and gourmet, with a refined, modern, and colorful approach. My aim is to innovate while preserving the traditions of French gastronomy. Dishes are revisited according to seasonal produce. Thanks to a selection of local producers, my creativity emerges and brings freshness to my dishes; they are the artists.

If I were to share any advice with my fellow cooks out there, it would be to listen to yourself, listen to your intuitions, work hard, and let your creativity speak for itself. I encourage every cook to work with local ingredients! Responsible, sustainable, and local agriculture is a priority to me as a chef. Always remember products of the same color and season go very well togetherness.

Credits 📸

Adib Abdelmounim

My name is Adib Abdelmounim. I was born in Mohammedia, Casablanca. Currently, I reside in Dubaï, the most beautiful city in the world.

My love for the kitchen began at a young age. Since my parents worked the whole day, I started learning how to cook by watching chefs on tv. I spent most of my days watching cooking shows before enrolling in culinary school at the specialized Institute of Applied Technology for Hospitality and Tourism of Mohammedia.

After I got my baccalaureate degree, I started working in different restaurants until I got the chance to immigrate to Dubaï, UAE. Here, I met some excellent chefs that helped me improve my career. The kitchen offers me a space to innovate new dishes and learn new techniques daily. I love French gastronomy: the sauces, cooking techniques, and the art of plating.

The Moroccan kitchen is full of different tastes. I’m trying to discover my culinary style by making a fusion between the French techniques and art of plating and the Moroccan taste to make something traditional with a modern touch.

In this profession, you learn important lessons in life. Nothing comes easy, and with love and passion, you can reach your goals in life. Learn the kitchen basics. Knowledge is what makes the difference between a chef and a cook. Be the leader you wish you had. Stay humble and share your knowledge with your juniors. Be a supporter, and enjoy every service moment.

Andres Meraz

Andres Meraz

My journey in the kitchen began when I was 8 in the Bay Area. My father went to prison, and my mom had to raise my brothers and me. She had to be creative with what we had in the kitchen. When she was at work, she left me a note on how to cook and reheat food for my brothers. This is where I gained the confidence to cook.

My mom taught me how to make traditional Mexican dishes from her hometown, Uruapan, Michoacán. She’s the one who taught me how to expand my creativity.

When I was about 12, I worked in my grandparents’ restaurant in Oakland, busing tables, washing dishes, prepping, and working the register. I remember making $4.75 an hour. Working under my uncle taught me to stay focused and to work hard.

I barely finished high school and was uncertain what I wanted to do with my life until I visited a culinary school (CCA in San Francisco). When I stepped into the building, I knew I wanted to cook! I was already comfortable in the kitchen and knew I could handle the hard work.

I graduated in 2004. The kitchen life saved me from getting into trouble and kept me off the streets. I struggled for years to sober up, but once I had a clear mind, I could focus and thrive in my life and career. I’m grateful for the long hours, the busy days, and the commutes because they kept me busy.

I love what I do; it’s been 20 years, and I don’t see myself doing anything else! I’ve worked in San Francisco, Oakland, Miami, and Spain. Currently, I have a restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas. Working in the kitchen has allowed me to travel the world, work alongside amazing, hardworking people, and have an open mind about new cultures.

In the kitchen, we create memories. I hope more independent restaurants open in the future, and we cut back on all the fast food options. Cook real food, not food cut out of a frozen bag!

Carmen Ibarra

My name is Carmen Florencia Ibarra. I’m from Miami and come from a Peruvian American family.

My first step into hospitality was when I was 14 years old, I worked at a five star beach resort picking up pool towels and I fell in love with the service industry from there. Since then I built my hospitality career working in hotels, restaurants, and events.

Cooking has always been a passion of mine. Food is a way for me to connect to my family memories and background, and create experiences for others. The pandemic led me to build my small business selling mango salsa and to the kitchen to pursue my love for food and creating.

I recently participated on Hell’s Kitchen Season 22 “The American Dream”. Like many, I grew up watching cooking shows at home and always thought one day that could be me. In my experience, it was one of the most challenging and rewarding opportunities in my career thus far. I got to work with other talented chefs in the industry and built a lifelong network.

No part of this journey has been easy. But I believe if something scares you, that means you should do it.

Alessandro Piso

My name is Alessandro Piso.

Born in the culturally rich city of Melaka, Malaysia, I have a unique culinary philosophy that embodies distinct flavors. With an Italian father and a Malaysian-Indian mother, my culinary roots are deeply intertwined.

I strive to marry contrasting styles into cohesive menus, pushing creativity’s limits to conjure dishes that genuinely stimulate the senses. My heritage is a critical element of my rationale in the kitchen, driving me to constantly explore, experiment, and pay homage to authenticity.

My journey into the culinary world began in 2011 when I started as a dishwasher at a highly-rated restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Within just one year, I rapidly rose the ranks to become a kitchen helper, where I played an integral role in food preparation and supporting the team to execute service with distinction.

I then ventured into hotel dining, gaining invaluable experience and honing my craft at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur. These experiences led me to cross paths with Michelin-star chefs, who were often guests at the restaurant. I furthered my expertise by working at Kuala Lumpur’s leading Japanese restaurants, NOBU and Sushi Hinata.

Fuelled by an insatiable hunger for learning, I decided to explore French cuisine. My journey led me to become the sous chef of Maison Francaise, witnessing a meteoric rise in my culinary career, leading me to other great opportunities.

My journey through different culinary ventures has profoundly impacted my food philosophy and a renewed focus on my heritage. Returning to my roots, I took on the role of chef de cuisine at Nido del Picchio, a renowned restaurant located in Piacenza, Northern Italy. During my time there, I played a crucial role in maintaining the restaurant’s prestigious Michelin star.

Shaheen Malek

Shaheen Malek
This Cart has been here since 2007. I’m from Bangladesh, and my journey in this city started twenty years ago. Cooking has always been my trade, my passion, my life. Back in Bangladesh, I was a chef and owned different restaurants.

Like countless others, I embarked on this immigrant journey and ventured into the food business world here in New York. I used to operate seven carts, but now I have five. Everybody took a hit with COVID, but thanks to life and my loyal customers, I’m still in business.

My cuisine blends Indian, American, and Middle Eastern flavors. We serve Middle Eastern staples like Falafel and Gyro alongside fragrant Indian dishes. Sometimes, I even throw in a curveball, offering hot dogs or Italian fare. Variety keeps it interesting and fun, you know? Business has had its ups and downs, but it’s slowly picking up again. It’s all good; we’re all good.

For me, cooking is deeply personal; it’s a reflection of your essence. It’s all about biryani and curry, crafted in my unique Indian style. I take pride in using clean, fresh ingredients prepared right here daily. When I see my customers enjoying every bite with satisfaction, that’s what keeps me going. Their happiness is intertwined with the future I have built for my family.

My wife manages our home; I have three sons and a daughter. They’re all pursuing their education here, thanks to the opportunities this job has provided. It’s been a challenging journey, but we’ve managed it together. This career has allowed me to offer them the chance to pursue their dreams and educational goals, filling me with pride daily.
@streetvendorproject is hosting a Street Heroes Gala on October 4th, celebrating NYC’s smallest businesses and continuing to work as a collective to create a vendors’ movement for permanent change. The organization advocates for the rights of street vendors in New York City. Link Bio to suport and join the gala.


My name is Sakhi. I was born in India and have been living in New Zealand for over three years.

I was interested in flavors ever since I was a child, I was never a picky eater. Contrary to most chef origin stories, I was never trained by my grandparents/parents in the kitchen. I chose the industry against my family’s wishes.

What I love most about cooking is being physically, mentally and emotionally involved in what I do, waking up with new ideas everyday, and the camaraderie within the hospitality industry.

The glorification of the hustle culture needs to change. Surviving on 2 hours of sleep, caffeine and nicotine might sound great for memoirs, but they will not sustain a genuine passion for food in the long term.

It’s 2023 and it’s high time we acknowledge that we are humans with every right to rest and a personal life.

No matter how prestigious a kitchen is, don’t tolerate disrespect. You might have a great opportunity to learn, but it’s not worth sacrificing your mental health. You deserve acceptance among your peers and a safe space.

Sebastian Simon

Sebastian Simon. I was born in Bangalore, India, but reside in Melbourne, Australia.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself behind the kitchen pass, not even during my childhood days when I grew up inspired by my mum, who would cook spectacular dishes with no recipes. My dream was to become a renowned journalist, while my father saw me as a well-qualified engineer. I chose the food industry because I considered cooking a necessary skill and started a hotel management course after changing courses multiple times. It turned out to be the best decision of my life.

After I was exposed to the industry, it left a profound mark on me and kindled my interest to continue seeking more. Despite all the failed avenues I had taken, I finally found my true niche, becoming an Executive Chef at age 31.

Over the years, I’ve learned to find the perfect balance between doing and accomplishing all I want to do in my career and being there for the people I love. I genuinely struggle with it, but I would rather give as much to my life outside work as I give to my job. My peers and family constantly remind me of the cost because I miss key moments, and before I can catch up, it’s gone forever. We need to stop and smell the roses before that time has passed.

With that in mind, we must also learn to celebrate the journey rather than the destination. Yes, this career is challenging, and no, it’s not always easy. It’s definitely not the glamor people think it is, but learn to enjoy the journey. We’re so obsessed with perfection that we forget the relationships we build and the journey to make service happen. Learn to value relationships, your craft, your people, and the produce you cook with.
Don’t let fear bring you down.

Sometimes, we let fear crawl its way into our cooking, but don’t let it defeat you. If you mess up, try again. It’s not the end of the world. The mantra I constantly tell myself is this, “I knew nothing, I know nothing, I am always learning is your mantra of survival here.” This shift in mindset made me resolve to be a better leader first, than a chef.

Chris Berdes

I am Chris Berdes, born and raised in Patras, Greece, and now residing in Mykonos. For me, cooking is not just a passion but also a gateway to encountering the most captivating individuals one could ever meet in a lifetime. However, at the core, food remains my ultimate destination. Even after spending 12 years in the kitchen, I still get goosebumps every time I step into that culinary realm. From the very beginning, I understood that pursuing a career in the culinary arts would demand significant sacrifices, but I have never once regretted my decision.

I vividly recall an incident seven years ago when I was brutally stabbed and required surgery. The doctor informed me that I could not cook for several months, leaving me deeply disheartened. It was during that challenging period that I truly grasped the fact that my life would be incomplete without cooking.

If I could share two of my best takeaways from the industry, they would be never to forget your origins and always remain connected to your roots. To keep your senses wide open, taste is intertwined with memory, and it is through this connection that we can truly leave a lasting impression in the culinary world.

Ylenia Rago

My name is Ylenia Rago. I am 29 years old and am from Policoro, Italia.

When I was 12, I asked my parents to go to culinary school, but with firm determination, they denied me. After studying law for almost four years, I realized it was not what I wanted out of life. Even though my college career progressed well, I spent my nights cooking and experimenting with recipes. I never watched any programs about cooking; I hated them.

I never read a book about cooking until I realized I had to say goodbye to my future as a lawyer after I met a chef and asked him, “What is the best cooking school?” To which he answered, “The work.” It was April 7th, and on April 9th, I began this incredible adventure that, to this day, I consider putting on a chef’s jacket the best thing that has happened to me. I joined a brigade of 19 people, and my first day of work was an 11 1/2-hour shift in Rome, Republic Square. Now, I work at the Piazza Duomo Alba and have since been a cook for six years.

For me, it is not just about making food but about the excitement and emotion. It is indescribable. When I meet kids who have studied for years and perhaps have paid a lot of money to train who are not “hungry,” I get angry because they don’t realize how lucky they are to study culinary.

Since April 9th, 2017, I have never looked back. The kitchen is the most beautiful place in the world, and it’s the only place I feel at home. There is nervousness, but at the same time, there is organization. There is rigor, and there is discipline. There are mistakes, but always solutions, and that drives me. There is mostly adrenaline dictated by the pressure that gives you life. I could never live without it.

Every moment in the kitchen constantly marks me. I hope soon, chefs understand the value young cooks have in the kitchen and realize that they were just kids once.