I love everything to do with food, from cooking and eating and grocery shopping, to watching cooking shows and reading cookbooks from cover to cover like they’re novels. I especially love talking about food, so it was a real treat to speak with chef and cooking instructor Vanessa Gianfrancesco, resident chef on Breakfast Television Montreal, the Italian Chef on seasons one and two of One World Kitchen on the television network Gusto, and instructor and general manager at Chef en Vous in Montreal. We had such a lively and fun conversation around our shared passion for food and I got to know more about Vanessa and what makes her so passionate about what she does. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Vanessa!
Vanessa’s passion for cooking stretches all the way back to when she was just a wee toddler standing on a chair in the kitchen, cooking alongside her mother and her nona. Vanessa made her first meal for her family when she was only in the fourth grade, and though her parents restricted her to using only the toaster oven, she impressed everyone with her stuffed onions and blew her family away by how delicious they were. Vanessa essentially grew up in the kitchen, but a career in cooking was surprisingly not her initial pursuit. Vanessa had plans of becoming a lawyer and started job-shadowing after completing her Bachelor’s degree in political science at McGill University, but when it gave her an unsettling feeling and the hot sweats from head to toe she recognized that it wasn’t the career for her. Vanessa knew she needed to follow her heart’s true passion so she enrolled in Montreal’s Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), where she was accepted without any professional cooking experience (her experiential education at home prepared her well!). As her culinary education came to an end, Vanessa decided to go into teaching as opposed to working behind the scene’s in a restaurant kitchen because she wanted to be in contact with people. By the time she was 25 she boldly expressed that she would become “the next Food Network gem” and acted on advice she received to build her brand and develop a following, leading her to start building Cooking with V, her website that she created to share the recipes she developed. Little did Vanessa know that while her website was in development, her mother was reaching out to the Gusto network, informing them that her daughter was one to watch, and the day after officially launching her site, Vanessa was contacted by a producer about being on one of their shows.
When I asked Vanessa who her favourite chef is, she didn’t hesitate to answer and Ina Garten’s name was out of her mouth before I’d even finished asking the question! Vanessa sees a lot of herself in Ina as they share the same approach to cooking, in that it’s not just about the food, but about the overall experience that surrounds it - both think beyond the meal and create an entertaining environment for guests; Vanessa is strongly family-oriented and advocates for dedicating time to eating meals with family and friends. When she isn’t cooking in her own kitchen, she’s busy conducting cooking classes at Chef en Vous, where she also plans menus for most of the private schools in Montreal. And as if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Vanessa has been testing a ton of recipes for the cookbook that she’s working on, which will feature Italian dishes with a Mediterranean flair to them. She’s pouring her heart and soul into it, and I can’t wait for it to be published! Just from watching Vanessa on One World Kitchen and seeing her appearances as the Resident Chef on Breakfast Television Montreal, I can see the intense passion she has for cooking through the loving and respectful way she touches the food she is preparing. I’ve always believed that the most important ingredient you can cook with is love, and you can really see how much love and passion Vanessa infuses into the food she cooks.
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Vanessa as much as I have! For her recipes and more, visit Cooking with V online.
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow about Vanessa:
I can't start my morning without...a kiss from husband and furry baby Mika who is my golden retriever!
I have a weakness for...FIGS! LOL if there is a fig scented candle, picture, air freshener or an actual fresh fig anywhere I will buy it!
Most people don't know that I...do not watch much television but one of my guilty pleasures is Wheel of Fortune and People's Court lol!
Currently reading... The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey...it truly makes me appreciate life in another way!
I want...people to bring back the whole idea of family dinner! I was blessed to have a family who took the time to sit down each night and eat together, it was a place for us to talk and share about our day. In today's fast paced world we are losing this tradition and I would love families to put more of an emphasis on it!
Thank you, Vanessa, for participating in #WeWantToKnow, it was so much fun speaking with you!