Michelle Pusateri is the founder and creative head of Nana Joe’s Granola. A former pastry chef, Michele has cooked at notable San Francisco establishments like the Fairmont Hotel and Nopa. She first started making granola to keep her energy up during long surf sessions, and now Nana Joe’s appears in restaurants, stores, and at farmer’s markets. All of the products are gluten-free and vegan with no traditional sugars — maple syrup is the sweetener of choice. There are also grain-free options, bars, and a new Chef’s Blend Series.
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How did you find your way into the historically male-dominated culinary industry?
I actually didn’t think of it that way. I grew up with a twin brother and was always a tomboy, so I never really had a predisposition for gender bias. I would stay after the women’s soccer practices to play with the men’s team when I was in high school. Yes, it was a challenge but one I was unfortunately used to accepting.
What has been a defining moment, either positive or negative, in your career?
When I decided to get sober and pursue my career as a pastry chef. It changed my life, my confidence, and my ability to advance.
Tell us about the women who serve up culinary inspiration in your life.
Traci des Jardin has forged the way for so many of us. Traci is not only an incredible chef, but she is also a super savvy business woman. When I first met Traci not long ago at Cherry Bombe Jubilee, she was incredibly kind. She was also excited to help out another woman chef when I asked her to be a part of the Chef’s Blend Series.
What advice do you have for other women building their culinary careers?
Always help out other women, and never compare yourself to anyone else, male or female. Find mentors and people you strive to be like. Walk into the kitchen and give 100% every single shift. Un-apologetically make decisions and stay true to your mission and yourself.