Born in San Francisco, Monica Feybesse has cooked at Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area (Madera, Masa, Ninebark), New York (Atera), Copenhagen (Geranium), and Paris (Ledoyen). Last year, she took a turn to the sweet side with Tarts de Feybesse, her pastry business that went viral on Instagram. Monica channels her culinary creativity into artisan tarts that highlight local products. See what she’s up to @monicafeybesse.
Want to meet Monica and sample her delicious creations? She will be cooking and speaking in San Francisco at our #girlswithknives event on March 29.
How did your find your way into the historically male-dominated culinary industry?
In my large family, it is not really the women who can cook, it is the men. My grandpa and my dad have been so influential in my style of thinking and so it was very natural for me when I entered the industry and saw mostly only men dominating. It felt right and very close to my heart.
What has been a defining moment in your career?
In 2013, I booked a one way ticket to Copenhagen to work at Geranium restaurant where I knew absolutely no one. It was such an eye opener there for me: the quality, the excitement, the amazing people who I remain close with until today. I even met my future husband there. I had no thoughts about leaving, so when I heard I had problems with my American visa later on and had to return to the US, you could say I was absolutely crushed. It didn’t matter how much I wanted to stay or how hard I worked or which important people vouched for me, my time was up. And so I booked another one way ticket, this time to New York and eventually to Paris. My hunger to learn was strong. I wanted to show myself and others that I could stand on my own in any place I chose. I learned that keeping yourself constantly challenged makes you happy and one set back always opens multiples doors and choices.
Tell us about the ladies who serve up culinary inspiration in your life.
Chef Anna Bautista. She was my chef at Madera restaurant in California when I was super green and didn’t know how to be “soigne.” She helped mold my vision of hard work and dedication. Her style is such flavorful food with a delicate look — you’re always surprised at the outcome. She has since opened multiple concept restaurants in Shanghai and though she is originally from the Philippines, she has dominated the field wherever she chose. She’s seriously so bad ass. I never question why she is still my idol after all of these years.
What advice do you have for other women trying to build culinary careers?
Work, work, work. When you have a goal, everything is so much easier. Be the example and be positive with others. They will follow you and support you in anything you do.