Chef Nona Nielsen Parker

Nona, is one of Baltimore’s most dedicated female Chefs. Involved in the food business for years she is an active participant in the upcoming Farm to Chef Maryland Culinary Competition and event coming up at the B & O Museum in Baltimore on Monday October 5, 2015. In fact, Nona has been involved since it’s very beginning.

“Farm to Chef” benefits the Days of Taste®, an AIWF program that brings together farmers, chefs and community volunteers – to introduce elementary school children to the basic elements of taste and to teach them how their food travels from farm to table. All of the participating farmers and chefs have donated their time and resources to teaching children the benefits of cooking with fresh, local ingredients.

In addition to the chef creations, top mixologists from The Baltimore Bartenders Guild will serve innovative and unique libations using premium quality spirits including Sloop Betty Vodka from regional distilleries. Brendan Dorr, President of The Baltimore Bartenders Guild said, “The Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild is excited to be part of the AIWF’s Farm to Chef event.

The bartenders of the BBG, like the chefs, will be using the freshest produce from the best local farms to create seasonally, exciting cocktails. “ Local Baltimore Judges have the coveted task of tasting all of the Chef’s creations and choosing the tastiest and most creative dishes. A People’s Choice award will be based on the guests’ votes. The evening will also include am amazing food-lovers raffle that include items such as a culinary classes, wine dinners and a YEAR OF DINING –where 12 of the best restaurants in town each offer a $100 gift certificate! And not only do guests get to enjoy the tastiest event in town, they will go home with a special Hometown Swag Sack filled with local goodies including Mallow Pops from Mallow Crunchies classic rice crispy treats, caramels from Mouth Party Caramels, Michele’s Granola, Popsation’s Gourmet Popcorn and much many other delicious things to sample and discover.

We recently caught up with the always inspired cook and foodie to talk about the event, her thoughts on food and more.

Here’s what she had to say…

How long have you been involved with Days of Taste and the AIWF?

I’ve been doing Days of Taste for about 10 years and Farm to Chef since it started.

      How long have you been in the culinary world?

I’ve been in the food business my whole life…started at 15, started front of house and started cooking about 30 years ago.

What do you love most about the food world?

I love food and cooking! I love the bustle of the kitchen, food is my passion and vocation.

What do you find most challenging about working in the food industry, or restaurant business?

Definitely keeping up physically.

Do you find the food or restaurant business particularly difficult for women? There’s a lot of talk that it can be sexist, or harder for a woman to break into the business and have a leadership role?

No…not if you know what you are doing and hold your own, it’s not for the weak that’s for sure! However, now there are more women in the kitchen than when I started out, but it’s still male dominated, that is still a reality.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone about cooking in a restaurant or catering setting?

Know how to work the dish machine…..the staff that wash dishes are the the backbone of a kitchen, if they call out or get behind it can put the whole kitchen behind.

What is your best cooking advice?

Always salt every stage of cooking not just the end.

What are the biggest challenges facing women in the food / restaurant business?

To me, the challenges are the same if you are a man or a woman, I don’t believe gender matters.

Food is a popular “encore career” for many women, and people in general. What is your best advice to anyone seeking to become a Chef?

Well, if you want to become a chef, work in the industry first, learn from the bottom up. Culinary School is great for a foundation, but if you graduate it doesn’t mean 1. you are a good cook 2. you know how to work in a kitchen long term.
The event is coming up Monday October 5, 2015 – For more information contact: The American Institute of Wine and Food @ 410-244-0044 Purchase Tickets: www.FarmtoChefMD.com

 

About Nona Nielsen Parker

Nona has been in the food business her entire life, starting with busing tables when she was 15. She did a little bit of everything until she found her passion and started a catering business in 1988 then opened a very successful cafe in Baltimore. Both businesses were sold in 2005 in order to have time for some more fun things in life. Nona currently works for Atwaters as the production manager for their 6 locations in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Nona has served on the board of directors for The American Institute of Wine and Food and the Baltimore/DC Chapter of Les Dames d Escoffier. She is currently on the board of directors for the Restaurant Association of Maryland Education Foundation. In here spare time she travels to all corners of the world to eat meals from bbq to Relais and Chateau. Basically she lives, eats and drinks food!