Interview with Chef Genevieve LaMonaca (@chefgenevieve)

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Cooking always came naturally to me, even as young as seven. I started my first job working at a subway then moved up to waitressing, so I was always working in the culinary industry somehow, shape, or form. I grew a passion for healthy foods and became certified as a personal trainer and nutrition and wellness specialist in my 20s. It wasn’t until I reached my 30s that I decided to commit to culinary school fully. That is where my career in cooking began. I did notice that my passion was much stronger than my fellow students. I excelled in every course and gave it my all. I wanted to do well in culinary school, graduating with high honors. I took an internship working at a Michelin-starred restaurant, which I’m incredibly grateful for as I picked up so many cooking techniques that I did not learn in culinary school. There’s something different from working at a restaurant and genuinely experiencing working the line than learning in a classroom. After my internship, through the help of my school, I was paired with families seeking a private chef. In the next three years, I worked for high-profile clients, one of whom was a billionaire with their separate kitchen specifically for their private chef!! That was such a fantastic experience and challenging as every family member had a different diet, so I cooked several meals each sitting and did so until I was nine months pregnant! After taking a year off to raise my daughter, I wanted to get back to work in the culinary industry. I began posting my work on Thumbtack and soon started picking up random catering jobs. I needed help, so I reached out to one of my former culinary students and hired her to assist me with these events. We had such a great dynamic together that one day during a lunch meeting, we decided to merge and create Finesse Catering and Events. It blew up! We were a woman-owned catering company in a male-dominated industry. We were ridiculed and doubted, but we pushed through. Within a year, we became one of the top-rated catering companies in Las Vegas with clients such as Rolls-Royce, Zo skincare, Nordstrom, and Aston Martin. When Covid hit, we took a hard hit. Staying home and not being able to work was difficult, so I began showcasing my work on TikTok. Being a professional female chef on my platform set me apart in a male-dominated industry. I didn’t see many female cooks on the platform, so I believe that set me apart from other TikTok creators. I quickly gained a solid female following. I have reached 1.2 million followers, extending to YouTube and Instagram with almost 1.4 million followers throughout my social media platforms.
Can you share the most exciting story that happened to you since you started doing this?
I was shocked to see that Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck followed me. It’s such an honor, and this truly humbles me. But I think the most exciting thing is being able to monetize from this platform. I had no idea that doing what I love to do showing others how to cook could become another source of income. Being able to inspire others is such a fantastic feeling and truly rewarding.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not “burn out”?
Tips I recommend for colleagues in my industry are good time management and balance. I think you need to choose what you invest your time in wisely. I l stay away from any drama or negativity. Surround yourself with those who inspire you.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
When I started in the culinary industry, I had a lot of negativity from some fellow peers with my new career choice. I learned that those are not the kind of people that I want in my life and had to cut them out. The person who supported me the most was by far my husband. He’s my biggest fan and has helped me grow as a businesswoman and a chef. Starting a business from scratch is not easy. I’m very grateful that I had my husband help me along the way. I was explicitly achieving a liquor license. That was one of the most challenging things to obtain as a licensed caterer. It was a year-long process, and I couldn’t have done it without my husband‘s help.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m incredibly grateful that my story has inspired so many other aspiring chefs to leap, furthering their decision to begin their education/career in the culinary industry. I get messages from followers who thank me for inspiring them to be better cooks. That is the most rewarding thing, and I never expected such fantastic feedback. It’s incredibly humbling, and I hope that I can continue doing what I do and inspire others.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunities.” I don’t believe that if you wish for something hard enough, it will magically happen. I believe that if you work hard and you’re prepared, opportunities will arise, and success will naturally come. Do what you love to do, become very good at it, and eventually make money doing what you love.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I’m on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, all under the handle ‘ChefGenevieve.’
Anything specific you’d like to have mentioned in the article?
I am a professional chef, caterer, business owner, and content creator, but I’m also a wife and a mother of two amazing little ones. On the weekends I cook with my kids, it’s memories I hope they’ll have forever! I hope to be a good role model for my kids. Do what you love to do, work hard, be better, and have a little fun!