Washington State Chef's
Member Spotlight - July 2010
The love of cooking all started at the age of 7 for Sharlene. She baked her first cake for her Aunt and Uncles 25th wedding anniversary. A chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and bright blue writing. When Sharlene presented the cake to her Aunt and Uncle and experienced the joy of their response, she knew right then that she wanted to keep bringing smiles to everyone’s faces by creating great food.
As Sharlene grew up many summers were spent at her Grandmas house where she ran and operated a day care. Sharlene would watch her Grandmother move from one pot to another stirring, shaking, adding handfuls and pinches of “Love”. As the years kept passing Sharlene would eventually ask for recipes for some of the things that she watched her Grandma make. She remembers her saying, “Sharlene, I don’t cook with a recipe, I cook with love and no matter what you do or where you go, if you cook with love everyone around you will be happy.”
Years later, Sharlene took her first job at a Gourmet Hamburger Restaurant in Phoenix, AZ. Not incredibly exciting but a rewarding experience for a first timer into the restaurant business who was working her way up. Shortly thereafter it was time to move on and Sharlene progressed into a PM Pantry and Banquet Prep cook position that blossomed into a Baker role that continued for 11 years in the kitchen of a business hotel in Phoenix, AZ. She later transitioned into a 3 year position as the Banquet Chef for a convention hotel in Mesa, AZ. Sharlene learned quickly how difficult and many the hours were working in the hotel business as a single mother with two small children. It was at this point in her culinary career that Sharlene found a job with Aramark Corporation in Chandler, AZ working within a business dining café environment that offered great culinary experience as well as reasonable work hours for her family priorities.
After a short few years, Sharlene was offered an opportunity that would change her and her family’s life for the better. An opportunity to move to Washington State and take a Chef Manager position with Eurest Dining Service/Compass Group at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, WA.
Sharlene’s career was progressing quickly when one of her culinary mentors approached her with an opportunity to enter a culinary apprentice program at Seattle Central Community College to strengthen her culinary education foundation. All of her experience to this point having been self taught; Sharlene committed to a 3 year culinary program, rotating in and out of different café operations on the Microsoft campus working with many of the great chefs that Eurest had on staff. Her education included a number of special projects ranging from ice carvings, baking and cooking for large company events, reports and presentations back to her mentors and peers, learning how to be a culinary trainer, manager and leader of other associates.
In her 3rd and final year of the culinary program Sharlene tried out for the Washington State Hot Food Cooking Team. She was one of the 5 on the team that competed at the Washington State Competition winning a silver medal. The team progressed to the Regional competition in Tucson, AZ where they again placed a silver medal and qualified for Nationals in Las Vegas, NV and taking 3rd by a fraction of a point. The experience in a lot of ways was far greater than anything that she had accomplished to this point in her culinary career and reflects fondly upon.
Sharlene is currently a Chef Manager at one of Eurest’s Center of Excellence/Training accounts in Renton, WA; she also holds a position as District Chef supporting 9 other Eurest accounts within the Seattle area in culinary, marketing and purchasing. Sharlene always communicates to the associates and Chefs that cooking is about the love. The love you have for what you do and what you feel and that it will come through in the food you prepare and present.
Sharlene is currently the Apprentice Chairperson for the Washington State ACF and a committee member on the JATC that sponsors the culinary program for the state of WA. Sharlene’s kids are now grown and preparing to jump into their own lives and she reminds them that when you find something that you love, you make sure you give it your all and you will be happy.
View her favorite recipe below…
KOREAN BBQ BABY BACK RIBS
- 1 cup Soy Sauce
- 16oz Thai Chili Sauce
- 2 tea Sirachi Sauce
- 1/2 tea Minced Fresh Garlic
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium Sauce Pan.
- Bring to a low simmer until sauce thickens (coats the back of a spoon).
- Set aside.
- Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper Blend
- Chinese Five Spice
- Baby Back Pork Ribs
- Rub the ribs with Chinese Five Spice back and front.
- Sprinkle with the Salt & Pepper blend.
- Lay out on cooking sheet and roast in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.
- Remove from oven and brush with the Korean BBQ sauce.
- You can grill the ribs or Roast them in the oven.
- Cook to an internal temp of 145 degrees.
- Cut into 1 or two rib portions and enjoy.