6 Questions with Amanda Cohen

What does travel mean to you?

I traveled a lot as a kid with my family. I come from a big family, so it was one of the few times we were all together. Travel is that connection with people to me, no matter where we are… Whether it’s Florida or France. After I left college, I lived in Hong Kong for two years and my true love was traveling, I thought I’d become a permanent traveler, hopping from country to country.

How has travel impacted you professionally?

The reason I became a chef was so I could have a skill that would take me around the world. Throughout the years, I’ve spent so much time going on Chef tours and traveling with my husband and my family because, to me, that’s just inspiration. Meeting other people and seeing what they do… that’s inspiration. That’s how I get ideas for the plate. 

What’s it like cooking vegetarian food abroad?

Well, sometimes you go places to cook and you think, oh, I don’t know if my food’s gonna work. In certain countries, you have to look really hard for everything and certain ingredients are simply not accessible. But, if you go to a market in Italy, everything is there. I realized they might not cook my food, but my food is able to be cooked. And I find that sort of back and forth really fascinating. 

Which ingredient are you most excited about?

Olive oil. I had never seen olive oil from start to finish before. You have to hit the trees, and then the shake, and it’s just a difficult process. And sometimes done by hand! That whole progression is fascinating, I don’t think most people understand how complex it is and how much goes into making olive oil.

You’re one of few women with a Michelin Star. What advice would give aspiring female chefs?

Be loud. Never keep silent. Never give up. Reach out. Find female allies. The boys won’t watch your back, so we have to do it for each other. And when you’re looking for a job, don’t go for the glamour kitchens. Work in the ones that give everyone a shot, that put fairness first, that believe in teaching and giving you a chance to grow, that promote from within. 

What is one passion you have outside of the kitchen?

I go to Venice every two years for the Biennale. It’s my favorite thing. You go somewhere and you want to see the great works of art, but more contemporary art, to me, is really interesting.