For this edition of Dream Job Diary we turn to the culinary world and Vanessa Gianfrancesco.
Vanessa Gianfrancesco is one of Canada’s fastest rising culinary stars. She was educated at the the prestigious Institut de Tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) in Montreal. She is also the resident chef on Montreal’s #1 morning show, Breakfast Television Montreal, giving a province-wide audience a glimpse into her culinary prowess. Vanessa is also on the hit Gusto television series One World Kitchen where she showcases Italian cuisine and shares her love of cooking.
Vanessa is also the founder and creator of the lifestyle website Cooking With V. She’s also coauthored and provided recipes for One World Kitchen: The Cookbook is with president and CEO of Gusto Chris Knight.
These days you can find Vanessa at Chef En Vou where she’s the executive chef, instructor and general director. Outside of her many professional endeavors, Vanessa supports causes that are close to her heart such as SPCA de Montréal, Montreal Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Ronald McDonald House.
Want to learn how Vanessa got her dream job? Take a read below.
How did you get into your current line of work?
It is actually a funny story because I tell everyone that I got my big break at 18 months old rolling pasta dough alongside my grandmother! Ironically, with every dream job comes a thread, all you need to do is follow it to understand how you got where you did. In my case, it began at a very young age when I would push a chair towards the counter and try to stir anything that my mom would let me as she was preparing food in the kitchen. Although, as much as I loved food I was unsure how I would do what I really loved which was teach it or be on television so I opted for something that I knew I could get with certainty and that was to go to university and study to become a lawyer. When I almost completed my bachelors in Political Science I job shadowed a lawyer and remembered getting the hot sweats! I could not imagine myself doing this for the rest of my life!
And so after completing my bachelor’s degree I decided I would apply to culinary school and I told everyone that it was a break I was taking, this helped calm down the questions and opinions that everyone was so ready to give me to talk me out of it. This was far from the chosen path, it was shocking to most but I could not be more grateful to my family and boyfriend Gianfranco at the time for supporting my decision and pushing me to follow my dreams. Once I completed culinary school I knew I had to teach and began doing so with my Northern Italian Class and Pasta class. I then began to build a brand and website called CookingwithV, which I launched on October 1st, 2014. The next day, on October 2nd, I was contacted by a network to be a part of a cooking show. Every morning when I wake up I am thankful to have the opportunity to share my recipes and family stories with so many people who want to listen! And it is so gratifying to be able to teach people how to use food as a vehicle to entertain their family and friends and show people around them that they love them!
Before you got/created your dream job, what was the best job you had?
One of my favorite jobs was working in a fine French pastry called La Charcutière. It was one of my first jobs and I was 16 at the time, but I had such a passion for food. I began in the pastry section where I would ask the pastry chefs how they made their pastries and learned how to make all the gorgeous desserts using authentic French methods. I knew all the cakes and pastries like the back of my hand and all the ingredients in them! I later had the opportunity to work in all the other sections including the cheese where they carried over 100 types, the breads and the gourmet product area. The best advice I could give anyone is to appreciate all experiences in life, take in and learn all that you can when you are doing it, and do not forget that everything happens for a reason!
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t doing this full time I would be teaching. I remember what it was like being one of the few woman in cooking school and I will tell you it was not easy! I believe that there is a place for woman in this line of work and more specifically I would love to show all students the different types of jobs that are at their fingertips when studying in food; it is not only about working in a restaurant.
What accomplishment/achievement are you most proud of?
Oh boy there are many it is hard to choose just one! Firstly, seeing the reaction from people who try my recipes and love them is one of my favorites! My philosophy is that being able to cook for yourself or for your loved ones truly is the greatest gift! Not only does it help in living a healthier lifestyle but it is a great money saver! The second biggest accomplishment is being able to walk into my favorite bookstore Indigo and see my face on a cookbook, beside hundreds of other iconic chefs…it really is humbling!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to find their dream job but hasn’t yet?
I am a strong believer that following your dream is not the easier path, in fact for myself it was the opposite from the safe way I was headed! That being said, it is important to follow that little voice inside you that tells you what you should be doing even if it is the more challenging path, and more importantly do let anyone around you dictate what you should be doing; only you know what is best for you!