Chef Rosemary Pagtakhan is a chef instructor for The Culinary School of Fort Worth. We did a Q&A with her to get to know her a little better! Here’s what she had to say:
Why did you get started in the culinary field? What was your first job?
My parents owned a small Filipino restaurant for a couple of years when I was in high school. They had taken it over from my uncle, so that was my first job in a restaurant. I worked front of the house and learned the accounting. I didn’t learn too much of the cooking because I had thought that I was going to become a pharmacist. I realized after one chemistry class, that pharmacy wasn’t for me so I looked into going to culinary school.
Who are some of your biggest culinary inspirations?
You know, I guess I’ve never really thought about that. My mentor, Christian, has guided me throughout my career. Any time I have a question, I always go to him. He’s probably my biggest inspiration. My parents weren’t too happy that I was going into the culinary industry after my first year of schooling, but I decided to anyway. When I met Christian, he pretty much knew what I strived to be and helped me to get there.
What are you most passionate about in the kitchen?
I get asked this question a lot, and questions like “what’s your favorite food?” and “what do you like to cook most?” are tough to answer because I just love food in general. There are obviously some things that I don’t like to eat, but I love all cultures of food from all over the world. Cooking it, eating it. I do have a slightly larger passion for baking because to me it is calming, and it’s like I’m in my own little world. I don’t cook as often as I probably would like to because I’m always baking instead, but I really enjoy both.
Do you still cook at home? If so, what are your go-to dishes?
On the savory side, it’s usually pretty quick meals. Pasta is usually my go-to. When I’m baking, I try to bake things like Filipino pastries and breads or new things that I haven’t tried before. I like to utilize my background and figure out how I can incorporate those types of flavors into the French pastry techniques.
What made you want to get into teaching?
I was teaching one or two classes every semester as adjunct faculty up north in Chicago at a community college, and it was just one of those things that I love doing. I did it at my jobs. I always loved to teach the cooks the next step in their career because that’s how I was taught by my mentor. Seeing my past cooks and students succeed is one of the most rewarding feelings for me. Finding out that one of my past cooks or students is now an executive chef or having career success is something I really love. It’s just being able to give back to others what was given to me that I find so rewarding.