I had my first encounter with the kitchen when I was eight because our parents worked, and I had to look after my two younger sisters. When my grandmother visited from Albania, I watched her cook everything from traditional meals to sweets and sauces. The way she respected each ingredient and recipe was magical and made me fall in love with cooking.

I went to university like my parents wanted, but I began to look for cooking schools. Eventually, I got accepted to the Chef D’oeuvre Cooking and Pastry school in Athens, but since my parents disagreed with me going, I worked to cover my school expenses.

My first kitchen job was an internship that taught me more than cooking. I encountered professional and non-professional behaviors, exploitation in the work environment, and sexism, among other things. Despite the setbacks I confronted, my passion for learning keeps drawing me back into the field.

I love cooking, and I love awakening memories in everyone who tastes the food I make. One time as I was leaving for work, my eldest came up to me and said, “I know you’re tired, but mother, many people are waiting to eat from your hands.”

At the beginning of my career, I worked all the time because I thought it was the only way to gain experience. A “chef,” and I say the word loosely, once taught me how to clench my teeth at anyone who thinks that men should dominate kitchens. It was the best lesson I got in the kitchen, and that’s how I learned to deal with him and everyone like him. In my kitchens, everyone has equal rights, and you don’t need shouts and curses to do the job you love so much.

Teach them to respect the kitchen through traditions. I’ve often approached older women to observe how they cook. The love for what they do is visible. They show absolute confidence in all their movements and bring a story about every food. Train the new cooks right, and they’ll grow to develop a healthy kitchen environment where everyone can thrive.

For a woman to choose a male-dominated profession is risky, but she can succeed if she sets her mind to it! Besides, life has proven to us that the best cook of all is a woman! And she is our mom!