Chilean celebrity chef Carolina Bazan balances motherhood, career
Chilean chef Carolina Bazan, born in 1980, said she had her first child at the “peak of her career,” when she was 35 and running Ambrosia Bistro, her family style restaurant, ranked by San Pellegrino as one of the 50 best eateries in Latin America.
Bazan’s decision to take a risk in her demanding work environment came from her belief that success is the balance of one’s job and family, and she was supported by her partner, sommelier Rosario Onetto, with whom she shares the responsibility of caring for young Iñaki.
“If I didn’t do it then, when? I couldn’t wait. If I’m at the peak of my career at this age, will it all go down from here?” Bazan said in an interview with EFE.
The chef said she viewed maternity as a “pause” in her career, but it never turned out that way because a year after giving birth she opened Ambrosia Bistro, a restaurant with a personal touch in the Santiago financial district.
The eatery helped her break away from the first establishment she opened with her mother when she finished her culinary training at the age of 23.
Bazan said she felt “satisfied” with the experience, even though it meant having to give up “around 10 cooking trips or talks abroad.”
The chef said she was able to make her family a “priority,” adding that the household would grow in a few months when she gave birth to her second child, a daughter.
The couple’s original idea was for Bazan to have a child via in vitro fertilization and for Onetto to become pregnant afterward, but the second procedure did not work.
Bazan is pregnant again, but she says she does not know how her life will be after the birth.
Right now, the chef is working the lunch and dinner shifts at the restaurant, and Onetto works with her every night.
“Now that my son, who is three and a half years old, goes to school, it’s easier, but working six days a week with one break is complicated. I miss bathing him, putting him to bed and sleeping with him,” Bazan said.
Though she says she feels passion for her profession, Bazan admits that she does not like the hours, which drove her to need a nanny to take care of her son at night while the couple works.
“She comes at six in the evening, we all eat together and then go to work. The nanny takes care of bathing him and tucking him in,” she said.
Bazan said she knows that her situation is “different” from that of other women working in the restaurant industry.
“Before I became a mother, I couldn’t see the difference between male and female chefs, but now that I have a family and I’m a mother, I see many differences,” she said.
In this job, with “complicated schedules and low pay,” few women stand out, mostly being seen at “cafes and bakeries,” Bazan said.
Ambrosia has made the list of the 50 best restaurants for five years, a milestone in a world where female chefs are rare.
“I know I’m lucky that I own the restaurant and make the rules,” Bazan, whose restaurant has an open menu that changes with the seasons and offers fresh products, said.
The chef frequents the Mercado de la Vega, the largest market in Santiago, where she personally selects the best ingredients.
The restaurant has an open kitchen that allows diners to watch the cooks as they prepare meals.
The chef, six months pregnant, is dedicated to her job as the manager of the kitchen and supervisor of 18 employees as she awaits her daughter’s arrival.
By Patricia Lopez Rosell