Celvin Lobos

I’m from Honduras, and my name is Celvin Lobos. I’ve 12 years of experience cooking in Miami.

The first job I worked in the US was in a kitchen as a dishwasher, like many. Afterward, I climbed to the salad station, then sauté, then pizza until I learned to make all of it. My dream is to save enough money to return to my country and invest while living comfortably with my friends and family.


My favorite task in the kitchen is to cook the family meal.

I take my role in making family meals as a big responsibility. The food I’ve done until now, I try to do it with the best flavor. I’d categorize my flavor as being from home.
A family meal unites us; it mentally and emotionally transports us to our country, city, and home. Many people come to me, and they hug me. They tell me my food reminds them of their grandmother, their mom, aunt, and their home, and that makes me very happy. It gives me a sense of pride to reach them that way. That’s what food is all about! It’s the place where emotions come afloat.

I believe the prettiest family is where love abounds. The love of everyone brings us together, and it keeps our roots alive.


They've always been cooks. Growing up, we had a restaurant in the house with 3 dining tables where people would eat. They were mainly people from the university I attended at the time, where I was studying biology. Back then—around 20 years ago—the marketing strategy at the time was word of mouth, so it spread between my sisters' professors and friends and my own.

Following the death of my parents 10 years ago, I dedicated myself entirely to biology, and I left the kitchen, cooking only for my friends it became something very intimate for me. At one point, I decided to escape the social culture of my country and I came to the United States in search of living my passion. I started working as a private chef and a line cook in various restaurants.

Mexicans, Asians, fast food, etc, until I reached a company that I love very much and who allowed me the opportunity to work as a Chef. That's the place where I truly rediscovered myself. After learning new techniques, inventories, and everything there is to learn in a kitchen, followed by a few months without rest, I decided to reconnect with the kitchen in a more genuine matter. It involved a little less technique and rigidness.

I quit and I started cooking from my house. I cooked beans, invoking our family custom as Colombians, "La Frijolada." A custom in big Colombian families where we come together to cook and eat once a week in the house of our matriarch, be it the grandma, the aunt, or in my case, my mother . La Frijolada Pop-up has allowed me to connect directly with incredible human beings, opening the doors to my house, and enjoying what it means to live my passion. Every time I host it, I do it in honor of my parents and family.


Creating my own pop up was not part of my plans but creating something with my wife has always been a dream. Coney Burger is one of those dreams come true. We still have a lot of roads to travel, and it’s been wonderful materializing them with her.

Both of us come from having full time jobs in different industries focused on executing our own visions, so getting to work on a project together excited us. When the chance arrived to participate in Smorgasburg, we didn’t think twice. We saw a great opportunity to connect and serve incredible, sustainable fresh food.

I think this is one of the best times in the last 5 years to dive into entrepreneurship and create new concepts. I mean, why not? I’m a pop-up fanatic! I can find incredible food made by brilliant vendors in the most casual manner.

Aside from the pop-up I work as a Head Chef in a restaurant that recently won a Michelin Bib Gourmand Award. It’s a big achievement and if I could share any words of advice for cooks who have the same dream it would be this: Faith. It’s where the discipline to be consistent comes from and it’s the place where you’ll be able to remain focused in becoming better every day.

It means more than just a prize. There are those who spend years in search of reaching a goal. For us, this recognition signifies the effort, passion and love we’ve put into this restaurant. Without a doubt, it feels great to inspire, impact and restore the community by being part of its culinary history.

I’m fortunate to count with an incredible support system and team. Together we’re capable of reaching more. My advice is to dream big and prepare yourselves, connect with people who have the same hunger to serve. Recognition is the result of excellence and sacrifice. So, when you feel like throwing in the towel, you’re almost there.

Without a doubt, we’ve collected many funny stories. One of them for example is cooking with the same clothes from 2 previous shifts just before going to our Pop-up. Those are the starts…unglamorous.

This new opportunity to start my own business doesn’t mean I’ll quit my job, on the contrary, it means I have more reach to serve more people.


I arrived from Haiti 5 years ago, and since then, surprisingly, I’ve been able to learn Spanish and how to cook thanks to working in the kitchens. I’ve worked in almost all positions, and as of right now, I’m working as a Dishwasher, but I see a solid future in the kitchen…I feel this is my path. I know I will be a great Chef one day.

Matt Collins

A personal/private Chef in New Jersey.

I’ve been doing dinners and events under Chef Collins Events for the last three years.

I’ve been cooking since I was a child, and I just enjoy being able to customize and create seasonal menus based on guests' preferences and special requests.

I’m afraid to share any stories I think are funny, but I enjoy developing relationships with people. Sometimes they’re dining a few inches away from me across a counter. I truly love getting to the plate, talking, shooting the shit, and get to know people, and sharing stories that are very personal from person to person. I get to know people, and they get to know me.

???? Photos by: Effie Tsu

Keith Sarasin

I’m an author, Chef, speaker, and restaurateur. I’m the author of four books: The Perfect Turkey, The Farmers Dinner Cookbook, Meat: The Ultimate Cookbook, and Jerky: The Essential Cookbook.

In 2012, I started The Farmers Dinner, which hosts upscale dinners on local New England Farms. Since its inception, The Farmers Dinner has hosted over 100 farm-to-table events across New England and fed over 20,000 customers raising over $230,000 for local farms.

I’ve studied food from the Indian subcontinent for more than a decade. My newly found passion and respect for Indian food led me to start Aatma, an exciting one-of-a-kind pop-up tasting experience showcasing food from the Indian subcontinent with modern techniques and styles.


I’m originally from Caracas, Venezuela and I’ve been living in Miami for 8 years now. Ever since coming to Miami, I’ve only worked in restaurants. Before Miami, I lived in Orlando, California, and New York. I didn’t study culinary, but I did do a lot of workshops with different Chefs in Venezuela and here in Miami.

My career has always been tied to music. For a long time, I worked in Audio Production, and on the side, I had a catering company with my sister who was a Pastry Chef that we worked parallel to our jobs. I stayed with that catering company for 20 years!

When I came to live in Weston, I launched the same catering company and I worked it for another 10 years before returning to Venezuela. A return that lasted 4 years. During that time, I lost all the catering clientele.

I come from a family where everyone cooks, and I was surrounded by food all the time. Even before I started music, food played a big part of my life. When I arrived in the United States, I didn’t have any contacts in the audio production department, but I knew a lot of people in the kitchen. So, I dedicated myself to it. At the time, it was the profession that offered me the most money. Necessity was my initial reason for staying. The other was for the artistic part I discovered in the cold side of the kitchen. That side was more detail oriented, and it was the part I liked most because I could focus on the details, which was something I did while working in catering in Venezuela. Since I worked with small sweets, they required more attention to detail.

When I arrived here, I worked for many years at the Hilton Cabana, in the VIP section, and I learned a lot from excellent Chefs.

As to music, I haven’t left it. I’m always arranging at my house and back in Venezuela I have a piano, a flute, a guitar, etc. In the end, music became my hobby.

Reza Dehnamaki

I come from Iran, a country full of culture and home to a wide variety of delicious stews and dishes such as "kebabs".

I spent my early days programming. If anyone would have asked me if I saw myself cooking professionally one day, I would have thought they were crazy!

It was a happy coincidence that I ended up in the kitchen as a young man. I remember starting in a restaurant because I needed a job, but after some time, I discovered this great passion for cooking. Since then, I have focused my life and career on learning this art.

It wasn’t easy though! I remember my first days in the kitchen, I wasn’t allowed near a pan. I was only supposed to wash dishes. I had to work my way up. So, I dedicated myself, and after a while, I was allowed to assist the Sous-Chefs and learn from them. Since then, I haven’t stopped learning and the journey continues.

Along the way, I’ve experienced both good and bad days in the kitchen. It’s basically become like my home. I love cooking dishes and I love fire!

But most importantly, I love the people in this industry. They’re very special and I always enjoy their company. They work as a team and laugh as friends after work.

Working in the kitchen has taught me patience, hygiene, and balance. It takes a lot of focus to work under such stress and be precise every single time.

I’m sure I’m not the only one whose life has changed. There are many great people out there who have great stories to tell about how cooking has changed everything for them. Food knows no borders. Food only knows love!

Respect to all the Chefs out there. Keep it up and I wish you all the best.


I was born in Penang, Malaysia, and moved to Oslo about 12 years ago. I’ve always been interested in cooking since a very young age. I’m not very book-smart, and cooking has always been a path for me to pursue since young. Most of my family gatherings are centered around food, and my mom and aunts can cook a feast! I've always preferred hanging out in the kitchen to see the action rather than playing with the cousins! It fascinates me! I guessed that’s where my love for the kitchen began.

As a chef, I work hard to be better than yesterday, even if it is just for small details. A Kitchen crew is like the 2nd family you choose; you spend most of your moments together, is the camaraderie, and knowing they will always have your back is priceless.

If you have time to learn, you have time to clean. A clean and organized kitchen/section is half of the success during service. Working in an organized and hygienic space is crucial for food safety!

The one motto I always kept is, Always ask, Never Assume. When you start assuming something, it often has a negative impact. Also, log off whenever possible. Do something unrelated to kitchen/cooking when you are not at work. Read a book, go to the movies, and find a new hobby. I realized that stepping out of the kitchen has given me focus and brought me fresh ideas and new directions.

Currently, I’m busy preparing for my upcoming Valrhona C3 Worlds Final, representing the Nordic region on the world stage. As well as heading the pastry department for one of the most anticipated and exciting projects Oslo will ever see in the decade to come, the @sommerrohouse Hotel, the first of its kind in Norway.