A talented pastry chef, a PR queen, and an energetic executive director of a food-focused non-profit. Meet Kris Padalino, Stefanie Jones, and Krista Roberts, the first three of eleven moms who rule Denver's food world. All three of them are at the top of their field in Denver while maintaining a strong presence in the lives of their children. These are their stories.
The hands and creative mind behind the beautiful desserts at Bittersweet belong to Kris Padalino. The executive pastry chef did not enter the cooking world until after daughter Arianna-Jordan (AJ) was born. With a biology degree in hand and a glimpse into the long hours of a career in the health industry, Kris followed her natural inclination and tried to carve time for her now 8 year old daughter while creating cakes and desserts. With a demanding job and a child that requires special attention, Kris manages it all with support from her partner Vinny, who is a chef in Superior. On a night off, you may find her at Sushi Sasa where the otherwise picky eater she is raising can inhale any sushi plate set in front of her. Eater asked Kris what she thought about women in the food world. This is what she said:
HELL YEAH LADIES! It's not just a boys club anymore. It's awesome! I have noticed more and more women in lead roles here and throughout the country. I have an incredible amount of respect and praise for women who are making it in a predominately men's environment. It takes a tough-skinned individual to work in this world in general. I'm proud to say I live in Denver and this is where I'm pursing my career as a female executive chef. It's always been a men's world in this field but with Denver's growing culinary industry everything is fresh and equal. It's not a matter of gender anymore- it's a matter of whether or not you're a bad ass chef.
To be universally liked in the PR world is not an easy feat. For journalists, colleagues, and clients alike, it is impossible not to like the always positive, straight-forward and upbeat Stefanie Jones. A long-time PR professional, Stef started her own company, Stefanie Jones PR, and five years ago began focussing on food in addition to travel/tourism and retail. Her two daughters, Darby and Harper, ages 8 and 6, are not natural adventurous eaters, but they try new things on every occasion and contribute to family meals with their own creations. One of these is Harper's Salad, a combination of spinach, carrots and ranch dressing. With two cups of strong coffee under her belt every morning, Stef sees the girls off to school and takes on the day. There are meetings, calls, openings, and more and no one day is like other. Some days push the seesaw that balances work and family down away from her daughters. How does she deal with it?
I remind my colleagues, and some of my clients too, that we're not saving babies here. We're feeding people, and in my case, I'm just publicizing that effort. Restaurants make people happy, provide a gathering place, and create community, and the best chefs and owners seem not to take themselves too terribly seriously. For them, it seems easy because it is. I try not to lose sight of what's important, but when I do, I have two little girls who are quick to make it clear to me in a hurry, and that helps.
In her bag of tricks, this PR master keeps a kickass nanny and house manager and a commitment to seek parenting advice from girlfriends who are moms.
Krista Roberts, executive director of Slow Food Denver, traded long hours and a busy business travel schedule as a management consultant for a lifestyle that could accommodate her growing family. Her two sons, four year old Benjamin and two year old Samuel, enjoy participating in preparing meals for the family whether they make pancakes, pick vegetables in the garden or crack eggs for omelets. An early riser, Krista tries to get a leg up on the day at 5:45 a.m. before the boys awake. While the logistics of childcare with kids of different ages are challenging and the witching hour (5-7 p.m.) invariably arrives every day, this mom relies on a few things to make life easier:
Planning ahead, routines, a supportive husband, wine, babysitters, a flexible work schedule, more wine, more babysitters, developing an appreciation for Disney soundtracks, deep breathing, dates with my husband, a sense of humor, and wonderful friends and family.
The family cooks a lot at home, but if they venture out, they will choose Steubens, Ace, TAG Burger Bar, and Snooze.
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