by student blogger Kristin I know I have mentioned this before and I am starting to sound like a broken record but being a student at the Culinary Institute of America brings you opportunities that you would otherwise not be able to imagine. This past Thursday, October 3, I had the opportunity to join the Media Relations team in meeting with Chef Roberto Martin. For those of you who do not know Chef Martin, here is a brief background:
-Chef Roberto Martin grew up as the youngest of 15 children
-After completing his Bachelor’s degree in political science, he decided to follow his passions and go to Culinary school
-Chef Roberto Martin is a graduate of the CIA, completing his degree in Culinary Arts
-After graduating, Chef Martin found work in the world of being a personal chef
-Chef Martin quickly became popular for his talent, attracting celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, and others
-Most recently, he is the personal chef for Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi
-Being that Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi are both vegan, Chef Roberto Martin had to adopt a whole new cooking style
-His vegan cooking has been so successful that he has made multiple appearances on Ellen’s show and is quickly becoming a TV personality
-With the help of the Network and Ellen, Chef Martin produced his first cookbook “Vegan Cooking for Carnivores”
-Chef Martin is producing a second cookbook and hopes to continue to bring vegan cookery into everyday households
Being an Alumnus of the CIA, Chef Martin is a perfect example to show current students possible future success. Therefore, while visiting the CIA for the annual alumni weekend, he graciously and enthusiastically agreed to give a demonstration to the students. The media relations team and I got to meet with him earlier in that same day. While I thought the meeting with him was just set up to discuss the evening’s events, I was pleasantly surprised when given the chance to ask him some questions about himself. This is what I found out:
What Started it All: His Journey and Decision to go to the CIA
Chef Martin told us that his journey into the food world all began while attending his first college.While attaining his BA in political science, Roberto began waiting tables to make some extra money. He searched for the restaurants that would pay him the best, and instead found so much more. Chef Martin recalls that he had always loved food and cooking but did not recognize his passion for it until stepping foot into fine dining restaurants in Los Angeles. He was wowed by the quality of the food and was determined to work his way into the kitchen.
The chef gave him the chance to work in the kitchen and the rest was history. Roberto had found a career that was both challenging and rewarding but that, most importantly, he loved. “I remember asking myself, if I were poor and struggling but got to go into the kitchen and work every day, would I still be happy?” The answer for Chef Martin was of course a resounding yes and he has not looked back since.
Chef Martin arrived at the CIA in the dead of winter after never being east of Vegas. Needless to say, he was a little shocked. “All the trees were dead!”, he recalls of his first reaction of the east coast winter. However he did not let this cold winter slow him down. Chef Martin hit the ground running and never took for granted all of the awesome opportunities that were laid in front of him. He describes the overall experience as being “Awesome” and was very excited to finally be returning to his alma mater for the weekend.
Transitional Period:How Chef Martin made the switch to vegan cooking
When first graduating from the CIA, Roberto did not see himself becoming a solely vegan chef. In fact he admitted to being one of those students who would stick their noses up at this type of cuisine! It wasn’t until working with Ellen and Portia that Chef Martin’s views were changed.
While Chef Roberto’s cooking was becoming more popular amongst celebrities, Ellen DeGeneres approached him with the opportunity of a life time, to be her personal chef. Although he did not know much about vegan cooking at the time, Chef Martin knew that Ellen would be a great woman to work for and he took the job. The next step was simple enough; learn how to cook vegan meals that were both healthy and delicious. By training under experienced vegan chefs and doing his own experiments and research, Chef Martin was able to utilize his talents in vegan cooking.
Chef Roberto Martin has since been a proud vegan chef and strives to show people the possibilities of vegan cooking.
What’s Next: Chef Martin’s Goals for the Future
Although Chef Martin has thrived in the worlds of personal chef and vegan cooking, he is always looking for a new challenge. He therefore has set many goals for himself in the future. Like many other CIA students and alumni, Roberto plans to open his own restaurant in the future. While he does not want to keep it for the rest of his life, Chef Martin hopes to gain experience from running his own business that will help him for the rest of his life. Chef Martin has also been playing around with the idea of doing more work on television. The brief time that he has been given on the Ellen DeGeneres Show has shown him that he loves the spotlight. Although nothing is set in stone about his future as a television star, I believe he would be a great addition to any prime time line up. Not only is Chef Martin charismatic, he is intelligent and inspirational, qualities that a TV personality should possess.
Meeting with Chef Roberto Martin was an eye-opening experience. Being able to talk to and learn from alumni that have already made their journey into the industry is invaluable. Not only do I have a new contact in the industry, I was taught to look at my future differently. Mainly I learned that you can be very successful if you keep an open mind and stay curious about food. Thank you Chef Martin for all your words of advice and for opening my eyes to the possible twists and turns my future has in store!