March is International Women’s Month and we’re delighted to spotlight C-CAP Alumna, Chef Tiana Gee! You may know Tiana as a Bon Appetit Test Kitchen Host or for her YouTube channel, Cookin’ with Tee, but before all that, she was a C-CAP Los Angeles student at Glendale High School with an enormous passion for food. After graduating with scholarships to local cooking programs, Tiana went on to study cooking and baking at the Academic of Culinary Education and then to Gourmandise for additional coursework and training. Her first pro job was under Chef Neal Fraser and his team at Vibiana, and then she became a prep and line cook at the heralded Redbird LA. She soon made it under the wing of C-CAP Co-Chair Chef Marcus Samuelsson and then rest, as they say, is history!
We know you from the incredible content on your Instagram feed and YouTube Channel! How did you first dip into creating & developing recipes and creating videos?
I’ve always known I wanted to have my own cooking show for as long as I can remember. One day I just decided to make that a reality and started up my cooking show, “Cookin’ with Tee.” Creating is a huge part of my nature and building flavors comes naturally to me so I went for it and started recipe developing and producing some videos. I’m still learning as I go but I’m proud of where my channel is now and the direction it’s heading.
Take us back to Tiana as a kid and C-CAP student– which women in your life inspired you to cook and encouraged your ambition as a chef?
My Lola [grandmother in Filipino/Tagalog] definitely is a huge inspiration for my love for food and my mom always supported me to make decisions for myself which also made it easy for me to stick to what I’ve always wanted to do, which was to create good food and entertain. While I was in grade school and actually culinary school all my culinary and baking teachers were women and they pushed me to pursue my food career. I’m extremely grateful for all the women in my life who have helped me or inspired me in some way.
Between your work with Bon Appetit and everything that goes into building your brand as a chef, you have many pots on the stove! What are you most excited about that you’re currently working on and that we should look out for?
I’m excited for my overall journey! I would just say to stay tuned with Tee cause there are a lot of projects on the rise that I can’t wait to share with everyone.
Which women in your life have – culinary leaders and/or women outside the industry – inspire you today? Who are you reading/watching/following?
My mother, my lola and my little sister inspire me daily. I also have some incredible friends that continue to lead and be brilliant women and it’s so lovely to witness. As far as culinary idols I’ve always idealized Julia Child of course for her honesty and carefree energy. I’m also a huge fan of Nyesha Arrington, Nina Compton, Daniela Soto-Innes, Niki Nakayama, Mashama Bailey, Mei Lin and many women I’ve crossed paths within my life that left a footprint along my journey.
What are the best nuggets of advice you’ve received that you want to impart to C-CAP high school students that are curious about careers in food/food media?
Follow your dreams, never give up and keep pushing towards them! There’s room for each and every one of you so if you are ever feeling discouraged take a step back and remember what it is you love to do every day and keep pushing. There are many different lanes in the food industry and there are many more opening up no dream is too little or too big. Go get it!