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Connie DeSousa: "Competitions Allow You to Grow as a Chef"

15 January, 2021
Chef Connie DeSousa

How important are competitions such as S. Pellegrino Young Chef Academy for young chefs?

I love competing, as a young culinarian and now in my professional career. Competitions challenge you, bring you out of your element and allow you to grow as a chef. SPYC is an amazing platform and competition for young chefs which gives them the opportunity to not only showcase themselves on an international platform but also allows them to network with their peers all over the world.

In the 2019-2021 edition of S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, for the first time the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility was awarded to the signature dish that was able to show that principles of sustainability enhance food. How do you integrate sustainability in your kitchen?

At CHAR Restaurant Group we are very sustainable in our business, not only in how we source our products but also in terms of our team. Four years ago we implemented a new scheduling system in our restaurants to give all of our cooks three consecutive days off at CHARCUT Roast House and created a more balanced lifestyle for our teams.

You will be a mentor for Rafael Covarrubias, how you will challenge him?

Rafael is an incredible chef and culinarian. I plan sharing a few of the tricks I’ve learned throughout my years of competing and coach him on public speaking skills and presentation to help him strive to be a great Canadian ambassador. We obviously want him to win, but more importantly, we want him to represent our country with grace and compete at his full potential.

What advice would you give to yourself as a younger chef?

The same advice I give to all young culinarians: travel while you can when you are not tied down with greater responsibilities. My greatest growth for myself happened while living abroad.

How do you think the culinary world is evolving?

The culinary world is evolving and adapting to a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle. John and I are striving to add more balance to our lives to try and achieve a healthier way of living. This will have a direct impact on our staff’s happiness and longevity as well as our business growth.

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