Lately, I have been struggling to keep my head above water. With million things to do and not enough time, there have been times when I have had the urge to pack my bags and go find a big enough rock to live under.

Now imagine how magnified this common state of mind is for someone who’s in a public eye because let’s admit it, there are times when we all just want to quit. Whether you’re being fat-shamed despite being drop-dead gorgeous or facing stiff opposition for pursuing an impossible dream, you are not alone. Today, you have TV chef Vanessa Gianfrancesco and her inspiring journey to tide you over.

Behind-the-scenes look at filming of "One World Kitchen" at Gusto TV's studio in Kanata. The new show features five female chefs from across Canada, representing five different types of cuisine. On this episode, Vanessa Gianfrancesco (pictured) cooks up tasty Italian dishes. (Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen)

From an aspiring lawyer to one of Canada’s rising culinary stars, Gianfrancesco is the resident chef on Montreal’s morning show, Breakfast Television Montreal, a recurring chef on The Marilyn Denis Show and one of the featured chefs on the television series, One World Kitchen. She is also the founder and creator of the lifestyle website Cooking With V, one of the authors of One World Kitchen: The Cookbook and executive chef, instructor and general director at Chef En Vous.

How does she manage to accomplish so much work in such little time? Here’s how.

Q1. Most of the chef hats in Canada are worn by men than women. Where does the complication lie?

It is one of those things that not many people discuss, but for me, it was something I experienced as soon as I got into culinary school. I was one of four women in the class and not one of my teachers was ever a female. Most of the teachers advised me to go into pastry because that’s where the majority of women were. But the whole time I knew exactly what I wanted to do: teach and be on television. Even though I listened to their opinions, I was focussed and did what I wanted to do!

You cannot allow people to dictate what you can and cannot do, you have to follow that little voice inside!

Q2. If you were to credit cooking for vital life lessons, what would they be?

Oh boy…I think everyone who knows me would agree cooking has taught me to be punctual and how to grow a tough skin! In culinary school you could NOT be late there was simply no excuse for it, so I had to make a conscious decision to always make sure that I calculated my time properly and planned ahead. There were sometimes I would leave my home at 4.30 am to be at school on time!

The tough skin came with me learning how to take criticism even though it was meant to be constructive and to hear it in a straightforward non-sugar coated way. Both awesome life lessons in my opinion.

Q3. If you were to give 5 reasons, why choosing to become a chef over a career in law has been your best decision ever, what would they be?

Q4. How did you discover your love for cooking?

I always tell everyone that I got my big break when I was 18 months old with my nonna (grandmother) as I rolled out pasta dough alongside her. Growing up, while most kids were watching cartoons I was watching cooking shows and trying to replicate some of the dishes I saw. Cooking was always a passion, but what I soon realized was that I loved, even more, putting a meal together for people I loved.

Q5. What are the challenges and rewards of not just being a chef, but also a prominent television personality and published author?

One of the biggest challenges for me is being that public figure and sharing my experiences both positive and negative with whoever is watching. It’s not something that comes easy to me and I have had to manage the commentaries that come with it. The lesson it has taught me is that I could never be everyone’s favorite, but that I could be me and that would just have to be good enough!

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Author: AD

Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.

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June 5, 2018

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