Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Alumni Spotlight! Rebecca Zauss, Sous Chef & Manager, Abigael's on Broadway

Rebecca Zauss, graduate of the Summer 2013 professional culinary arts program at The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA), is an inspiration for any budding cook!  Starting as a child, baking in her mom's kitchen with her grandmother, Rebecca is now a sous chef in training at the renowned Abigael's Flagship Restaurant in midtown Manhattan and the Manager of the Abigael's concession stand at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY.

What does it take to be a professional chef right out of culinary school?  
Growing up in California with a love for cooking, Rebecca “hosted” her own cooking show in her family's kitchen at the age of eight.  She was quite a trend setter, not knowing that cooking shows would soon become a popular niche on reality TV.  Several years later, on career day in high school Rebecca dressed up as a chef (hat, whisk and all) cultivating serious attention to her culinary aspirations.

Rebecca earned an associates degree in Hotel/Restaurant management in California, but knew that she required a culinary education in order to learn the skills necessary for professional food service. Committed to tasting the food she would cook, knowing it was critical to learning and honing her craft, she realized that a kosher venue, The Center For Kosher Culinary Arts, was the only place for her to go.  CKCA is the only kosher cooking School in the United States.

Rebecca and her family were particularly impressed with CKCA's commitment to assisting students with job placement, guidance and externships.  While in the professional program, Rebecca spoke with friends attending other culinary schools who were not receiving job placement assistance, and many were ultimately forced to pursue employment in other industries.

Reflecting back on her time at CKCA, Rebecca fondly recalls the intensity of working in the busy kitchen classroom. Her instructor, Chef Avram Wiseman, simulated a real kitchen environment by keeping the pace steady, requiring students to cook and plate professional quality dishes under pressure. 

Recognizing her talent, maturity and ambition, CKCA placed Rebecca in an externship at Abigael's on Broadway. She was offered a full time position almost immediately. Rebecca felt prepared to start working after graduation, but had never imagined that she’d be cooking at the “largest kosher restaurant in the world”!  Working at Abigael's, Rebecca is under the tutelage of Jeff Nathan, a celebrity chef and well known cookbook author. Chef Nathan has become her role model and mentor and has shown Rebecca how important a “hands-on” approach is to ensuring the highest standard of cooking and service. 

Rebecca’s responsibilities at Abigael's as a sous chef in training and a manager at the Barclay’s concession are helping her to develop both culinary and management skills. These skills, along with her unbridled work ethic, passion to cook and create and desire to make people happy are sure to serve Rebecca in the bright future that lay ahead for her. We wish her the best of luck and have no doubt that Rebecca will eventually fulfill her dream of owning a catering and party planning company.

Flash Questions:
  • Favorite dish to prepare/eat: Salmon Pasta Florentine
  • Favorite cooking show: Jacques Pepin (PBS), Iron Chef and anything with Bobby Flay
  • Most useful kitchen tool: A superior chef’s knife (her “3rd hand”) and good zester
  • Hardest food to work with: Tofu and fish. They are challenging to flavor, maintain texture and not  overcooking them is a challenge, especially when catering.
  • Best advice to CKCA grads and students: Pay attention to everything. At CKCA you can get a lot of one-on-one advice, take advantage of the opportunity and don’t think you know anything. Be humble!
    Abigael's Concession Stand at Barclay's Center

1 comment:

  1. congrats, honey! we r so proud of u! God bless ur life. sara/brianna sewell