As native of Normandy, France, Chantale Doinel grew up with a love of French cuisine and an appreciation for seasonality. For the last 35 years, she has been working as an esthetician and owner of a skin care salon. However, it was her passion for food and cooking that inspired her return to school to embark on a new career. Chantale graduated from the International Culinary Center’s Silicon Valley campus in 2016 with a diploma in Professional Culinary Arts. Today, she is working as a successful private chef based in the San Francisco Bay Area. We sat down with her to discuss how she switched gears professionally for a life dedicated to the culinary arts.
Thrive to improve, do not complain, and practice.”
What makes the culinary industry appealing to you?
Chantale: Whether it’s a dinner for two, a picnic in the woods, a banquet on a beach or a well-prepared sandwich on a hike, I find great satisfaction in procuring balanced and memorable meals for other people.
When did you know you wanted to work in the food industry?
Chantale: About 12 years ago, when my friends asked me to share my knowledge of regional French cuisine, I started giving them cooking lessons. I realized then that I wanted to learn more about the industry as a whole so that I could better transmit knowledge to my peers. As I am constantly eager to learn, I sought a certification to validate my qualification as a cook.
What were your greatest challenges at school and how were you able to overcome them?
Chantale: Speed, timing and organization were challenging concepts for me, not to mention the fact that, as I went to school at night, I was working full-time during the day. I tried to overcome these obstacles by being prepared for each class, mindfully studying the material and practicing knife skills at home.
What inspires your style of cooking?
Chantale: My mother taught me everything about traditional French family cooking. Growing up, our refrigerator was always empty as I was raised to do the shopping on a daily basis and get inspiration according to the season. As we were a large family, my brothers and I were assigned tasks in the kitchen; from an early age we were roasting, braising, grilling, and making pastries. We often ate specialties from the Normandy region and the Loire Valley and but also exotic dishes from the places we traveled to with my father when he was in the army such as Morocco and Germany.
Follow Chantale’s culinary creations on Instagram via @chantalescuisine!