Elena Nez, 7, who wants to be a Seasons 52 chef when she grows up, takes the expression “dress for the job you want” to heart — the team in Boca Raton, FL, gave her a chef coat to encourage her to achieve her career dream, and she always wears it to the restaurant.
“It was like getting a thousand birthday presents,” said Elena, who also got a tour of the kitchen led by Sous Chef Jonathan Skinner. She was especially impressed by the large walk-in freezer and the computer screens where food orders appear.
“Elena always asks her parents to request a table near the kitchen when they make reservations so she will have the best view of the goings-on in the kitchen,” said Managing Partner Carolina Zerboni.
As the team got to know Elena, they wanted to nurture her dreams. “It is important to inspire and motivate the younger generation of upcoming chefs,” Jonathan said, “not only about cooking but also about the sustainability of where our food comes from. I want Elena and other young people to value and appreciate what it takes before food even hits the dinner plate."
Elena began cooking as soon as she could walk. Her parents recall placing her on the kitchen counter so she could mix cake batter in a bowl when she was about 3. “She’s had a toy kitchen for as long as I can remember, but now she works in the real kitchen,” said her father, Richard. “She’s very hands-on and loves doing whatever we’re doing, but even more so when the finished product is food.”
She makes scrambled eggs with vegetables sprinkled in and toast all by herself. She also measures ingredients, cuts vegetables and prepares salads. “She gets very excited about plating,” her father said. “She will cut tomatoes into shapes and drizzle them with balsamic dressing to give them color.”
The family recently took a trip to Italy that included cooking classes. “We made pizza, pasta, fish soup and lava cake,” Elena said.
Her favorite dish at Seasons 52 is the seasonal Southern-Style Shrimp and Grits. She said she likes that “the entrées are really healthy and the desserts are not super big.” She said she’s not a picky eater. “When I was younger, I tried different fishes, and last summer, I tried oysters. I wasn’t really a big fan of them,” she said.
A second-grader, Elena’s favorite subject is science, followed closely by math. She enjoys watching the “Kids Baking Championship” and “The Pioneer Woman” on the Food Network.
“I want to be a chef — and a veterinarian,” she said. “She’s going to be very busy,” said her mother, Jeannie.