GirlsWithKnives, Women of Feastly
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#GirlsWithKnives Spotlight: Pastaia Elizabeth McCoy

Elizabeth has built her pasta career on sweat and hard work, honing her talents and always finding new inspiration. From learning as a prep cook to designing pasta programs at LA restaurants like Otium, All’Acqua, Barbrix, Miro, and Faith and Flower, Elizabeth is a force to be reckoned with. In addition to her restaurant career, she’s now the executive chef of A Mano, Amaro, her own Feastly pop-up series. At her monthly dinners, she dishes out expertly crafted pasta courses with thoughtful drink pairings.

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How did you find your way into the historically male-dominated culinary industry?

I was always so inspired by stories of my grandparents running restaurants together as equal partners. My grandfather was always my hero and my cooking has always been important to me, but all this started with a silly recipe blog I created. My mentors were always strong, tough, talented women. I wanted to be that. I carried their words with me.

What has been a defining moment in your career?

When I was hired to the opening crew at Otium. Here I was, one year into my career, with everything I learned and taught myself about pasta, serving my handmade Corzetti Stampati with pesto Genovese to the guy who was Thomas Keller’s second-in-command at The French Laundry. When I was given that job off my passion and my skills, it made me want to work harder, learn more, step up, and make my dreams come true. I was good enough in that moment to start the next phase of my career. 

Which ladies serve up culinary inspiration in your life?

MerrinMae Gray. She was, is, and will always be, my hero. She was a total fast, furious, hard-working force in my life. I remember her sitting at the back prep table at Union, making bad jokes and rolling pasta a piece at a time. I learned more than I realized listening to and watching her.

Courtney Storer of Jon and Vinny’s. She was my chef de cuisine there. Watching her kick ass, take names, and take no lip from some men who would have rather discounted her because she was a woman did things to my confidence. She made me believe in strength beyond my body. 

April Bloomfield. Reading the stories of what she had to put up with made me realize even more that people can say what they will, but talent and drive trumps negativity and abuse every single time.

What advice do you have for other women trying to build culinary careers?

Don’t stop. I’ve personally had chefs defend people who have put their hands on me inappropriately or disrespected me because I happen to be a woman. I kept telling myself chef Courtney’s mantra: “Yeah, laugh now…but I’m going to take your job someday.” Remember – you are a warrior woman and no one can take that from you. The food and the dream are bigger than the abuse. YOU ARE WORTH IT.

Dine With Elizabeth

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