Chris Clarke is a chef and self-proclaimed “food dork” and “culinary adventurer.” A seasoned veteran of restaurants and catering, she documents her food exploits on “J’Eat? Food for life and a life mostly centered around food.” After spending a year globe-trotting, she is currently writing a travel and cookbook about her adventures.
How did you find your way into the historically male-dominated culinary industry?
At first, it was a way to make money in high school and college, and once I graduated it became my only means of support. Then it became my passion. Now it is all I know how to do. I am a culinary veteran with over 30 years of experience working in restaurants, catering, in the natural foods industry, and as a culinary educator. I’ve never used that college degree and now I can’t imagine any other career.
What has been a defining moment in your culinary career?
At the end of July 2015, I left the US and went on a culinary adventure. I was a very sober, mostly vegan, spinster chef who wandered the world for a year…Sold all that I had, wandered, got lost, found my way, discovered, ate, cooked and shared marvelous and delicious food… In 334 days I visited 19 countries, met 3 donkeys, lost my favorite pair of plaid Chuck Taylors in Marrakesh, and was gratified to be able to experience the world, and see it as the messed up, wonderful, and joyful home it is.
What advice do you have for other women trying to build a culinary career?
Draw your line and hold it. Speak up for yourself. I’ve been told what I couldn’t do, what I shouldn’t do and I’ve been harassed every way but Sunday. I knew what I could take and what I couldn’t. It took me several years to get there, but I learned that being me means being audacious, brave and happy.