Today we’d like to introduce you to Maki Yazawa.
Maki, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I like to call myself a multicultural mutt. I am first-generation American, born and raised in South Florida. My mom is Venezuelan and my dad is Japanese. I always grew up with a great curiosity for food and different cultures. I was the odd kid that would order Japanese fermented soybeans, natto, instead of a slice of pepperoni pizza.
During my college years at NYU, I was fortunate enough to be able to complete my undergraduate degree in five different continents, studying abroad in Sydney, Prague, Buenos Aires, and Abu Dhabi. Believe it or not, It was actually more economical for me to study abroad than live in NYC! Saving all the money I could, I would spend my time adventuring in these foreign countries and immersing myself in the gastronomic particularities of each region. In Czech Republic, I indulged in delicious goulash served with a crisp, cold Pilsner beer, and in Argentina, I would splurge on some juicy skirt steak with a side of chimichurri sauce and a glass of Malbec.
After college, I was able to merge my undergrad studies in Media and Communications with my passion for food and started working for Food Network. At Food Network, I handled all the social media, public relations, and marketing for Latin America. As part of the team that launched the brand in the region, I developed a great foundation and understanding of how to make food media content go viral. This job really sparked my hunger to pursue a full-time career in the culinary world, leading me to change careers and enroll at the Institute of Culinary Education in Los Angeles last summer to get a foundation in the culinary arts.
I headed out on a 5-day cross country trip in my jammed-packed SUV, driving from Miami to Pasadena to pursue this new endeavor. During my time at ICE, I have had the pleasure to work alongside chefs such as Jon Shook, Vinny Dotolo, and David Chang as well as cook for celebrities, such as Natalie Portman and Diane Sawyer.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Everyone’s journey is different and following your passion always requires a great deal of sacrifice. Uprooting my life, shifting careers, and taking a few steps back to go back to school, were some of the difficult, yet extremely rewarding decisions that I made to pursue my goal of becoming a culinary media professional. Being raised by my single mother and grandmother gave me a strong foundation on the importance of a strong work ethic and the extraordinary things you can accomplish with determination and resiliency. They always taught me “manos a la obra,” which means get working!
This advice was something that I always kept in the back of my mind every day during my externship at David Chang’s premier Los Angeles restaurant, Majordomo. Being a woman in the kitchen is a challenging task, The industry is still dominated by men and the job is physically demanding paired with long hours. While discrimination against women has long been commonplace in this industry, fortunately, times are changing and female chefs and cooks are taking more and more of a stronghold. Culinary leaders like Christina Tosi, Nancy Silverton, and Dominique Crenn continue to pave the way for aspiring female chefs.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
Currently, I am working on a digital, culinary adventure series focused on sustainable foods, outdoor adventures, and cooking. My childhood best friend and I started beekeeping last year and now we are proud co-parents of a bustling hive with over 50,000 healthy honeybees. We are producing about 30 pounds of honey monthly during our peak harvesting seasons and are working on educating our peers about the environmental benefits of composting, recycling, and most importantly, saving the bees! We are currently working on creating digital videos explaining the beekeeping process and incorporating our local honey in simple, yet delicious, easy-to-make recipes!
Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
Family is where the heart is, and I have been blessed with having an outstanding support system to always encourage me to pursue my dreams. Coming together around food and dining as a family was something that I truly cherish from my childhood. We would have Venezuelan-style brunches with arepas, perico and homemade guasacaca every Sunday. This would also become our weekly powwow session to discuss everything that was going on in our lives and offer support to push forward through any adversity that we faced.
- Phone: 9548731703
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: makifeed