Nina Curtis is a vegan and raw chef with over two decades of culinary experience. Her cooking has taking her all over the world, from New York City to Senegal to Malibu. Nina’s culinary style includes a variety of global flavors, like Mediterranean, African, Thai, and Mexican. This April, she’ll become the president of the Women Chef and Restaurateurs (WCR), an organization dedicated to networking, empowerment, and career development for women in food.
We’re proud to support Nina and the WCR in this important initiative, which is why we’ll be donating 100% of our proceeds from various #girlswithknives fundraisers in March to their scholarship program.
How did you find your way into the historically male-dominated culinary industry?
I began cooking with my mom at the age of eight. My dad, a classically-trained chef, always had catering prep work for us to do. I’ve attended two culinary schools — Living Light Culinary Institute (Fort Bragg, CA) and the Natural Gourmet Culinary Institute (New York).
What has been a defining moment, positive or negative, in your culinary career?
There are so many, but most recently: when a nine-year-old client of mine told me my food “brightens” him! This was after he told me he had no interest in vegan food. Out of the mouths of babes 🙂
Tell us about the women who serve up culinary inspiration in your life.
At the moment, it is the badass women who cooked the five-course, plant-based dinner** at the James Beard house for International Women’s Day. We made “herstory” with this event! Peggy Chan, Sophia Hoffman, Makini Howell, Cara Mangini, Carrie Summer, Frances Gonzalez, and Deborah Brenner.
**This was the first time a James Beard House dinner has been vegan and all-female.
What advice do you have for other women trying to build culinary careers?
Surround yourself with support people (men and women) who push you towards your dreams by challenging you and lifting you along the way. Believe in yourself and build your confidence and skill set with every strategic opportunity that comes your way. Also, not everything that comes your way is an opportunity you need to take — think about that!