I have had the fortune of having a long working relationship with Otium and Chef Tim Hollingsworth. But not until recently did I have the chance to sit down with Otium’s head pastry chef Allison Osorio. We met up between lunch and dinner service on a winter day before Christmas. What struck me most was her drive and determination. Below is an excerpt from our conversation.
Where did you grow up?
“My family is from Sinaloa Mexico but I grew up in Compton”.
What are your earliest memories of cooking?
“Well my mom actually didn’t cook all that much. She was a single mom and we ate out a lot or had TV dinners. So I started cooking out of necessity. And I actually started cooking a lot because I was stressed out from my corporate job and cooking was a sense of relief”.
Tell us about your culinary path?
“This is my second career, I didn’t start off with this. I was doing marketing and PR work in the food industry after college. But my curiosity and work led me to always wanting to be a chef. I ended up quitting my job because I wasn’t happy and applied to pastry school in Paris. This was extremely hard. I didn’t speak the language, I had no money and was basically starting over. My parents didn’t approve of me quitting my job and moving to France. This made me very determined to make it. And I have to say I loved it! After pastry school I got a job at Pierre Herme which to me was the ultimate. I learned so much there”.
After coming back to Los Angeles how did you end up at Otium?
“When I left Paris I wanted to come back to LA and I only wanted to work for Thomas Keller. But when I came back I had no job, I had no money and I had to start over again. Literally my parents were like I told you. Finally I got a job at Bouchon in Beverly Hills. I was there for 2 years and that’s where I met Chef Tim and a bunch of people from the TKRG world. After Bouchon I helped open a restaurant with a friend from Bouchon as the pastry chef. I then heard about the Otium project and reluctantly applied with no anticipation that I would actually get the job. I’ve been here since day one and I feel like I grew up here. It’s definitely my baby”.
With regards of the term “female chef” does that have an affect on you?
“To me it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t trigger a negative connotation. I feel like more empowered as a female and I’m proud of it. I feel like if someone said she’s a Mexican chef that would trigger more of an emotion”.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
“For me it’s eating out, eat everywhere. For me inspiration comes from places I’ve been. I’m also visual, I love being next to the Broad! To me things to have the right color scheme, texture. I like a lot of abstract things”.
If you weren’t a chef what would you be doing?
“I would love to be a florist but in all honesty I love what I am doing and I can see myself doing this when I’m 80”.
What would your last dish be?
“A giant banana split!”