Interviews with Today's Chefs

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Kristin Beringson, Executive Chef of The Fairlane Hotel in Nashville, and former Chopped champion has a passion for the culinary arts, a fierce work ethic, and a tendency to think outside of the box. We recently caught up with the busy chef to discuss the bad-ass-chef sterotype, thinking beyond the norms, and setting oneself up for longterm success in the industry.

“Most students come in and they tell me that they want to do fine dining. I’m like, ‘Okay, well, what is it about that, that you like?’ ‘Well, it’s what I see on TV and it’s beautiful. And I like plating.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ But it’s about, like, this whole thing, like, you can do quick-service breakfast, you can do fast-casual. Like, there’s food trucks. I think there are so many different kinds of dining. To just associate being a chef with this one type of cuisine, and not just cuisine but service style, I guess what I’m saying is it’s very narrow-minded.”

Chef Carlos Garza of Carnivale in Chicago—which ranks within the top 10% of restaurants worldwide, as TripAdvisor 2020 Travelers’ Choice Winners—is a dedicated CASA mentor who finds a great sense of fulfillment by helping CASA students gain the skills, techniques, and connections they need to launch their careers in food.

We recently caught up with the busy chef to talk concept and cuisine at Carnivale, hiring CASA grads, egos in the kitchen, and even a star student who’s left the police force to become a chef.

Chef Walter Cotta knows all about learning on-the-job and working one’s way up in the culinary arts. Starting out working in a restaurant as a dishwasher, Walter’s tenacity and passion for learning, as well as his in-born talent for cooking, enabled him to rise through the ranks, from dishwasher, to line cook, to ultimately Executive Chef at the upscale, award-winning Italian restaurant L’Opera, in Long Beach, California.

We recently spoke with Chef Cotta to garner his insights on what it takes to succeed as a chef, discuss in-industry training, and talk about recent CASA graduate, Joey Mendes.