This week, our guest food editor, Sandy Ho, put something special together to highlight six Los Angeles-based chefs. We are so honored to share the work of these incredible creators and hope you will join us in support of their initiatives. Here, Sandy chats with Camila of Camila Creates on how she got her start, what makes her move, and how she has been affected by this incredible and unprecedented moment in time.
SH: How has Covid 19 and the Black Lives Matter movement affected you and your business?
CC: My immediate observations on how Covid changed the landscape of food was around accessibility. The hoarding was a signifier of the painful racial and class factors that determine what resources are and aren’t available for folks. The accessibility factor also became the primary factor in how I provided my services for clients, I shifted my practices to rely more heavily on farmers markets and local grocers and opted out of buying from national brands when that was available. I also moved from neurotic to straight up fanatical about eliminating food waste and finding a purpose for everything. The catering side of my business, for obvious reasons, has taken a big hit - which has been a huge bummer.
As far as the current civil rights movement we’re experiencing, it has prompted in me an initial pause, and reflection to then practice creating in spaces that are more meaningful and impactful, and in a way that contributes to the movement rather than taking up space. As a light skinned latinx woman, my role often feels precarious.
SH: Describe a pivotal moment in your career that has led you to where you are now.
CC: It might be cliche, but quitting my day job was one of the most pivotal moments in my career because it was the start of my career. For creatives there is no blue print for how to cultivate security and financial stability while being a free lancer/self employed. In fact the systems in place are meant to discourage that level of economic autonomy. It’s extremely difficult. And that initial plunge, so to speak, taught me a profound sense of trust in self that was critical to maintaining my livelihood and for activating a sense of urgency to become the ultimate self starter. That same sense of urgency has defined my work ethic, that, and having mostly Capricorn in my astrological chart. (LOL)
SH: What empowers you to wake up in the morning and what keeps you up at night?
CC: Ah, man. This question is very existential. I wake up in the morning to feed my cat and make coffee. In my truest essence I am a seeker, so I am empowered to carry out my days tasting, smelling, eating, feeling, exploring thoughts and emotions and swimming in the deep end of the human experience. All of those things keep me up at night, too.
SH: Tell us about one dish that changed your opinion on food/people/love/ingredients.
CC: Both of my abuela’s cooking imprinted on me the nostalgia that food evokes. My Mexican grandmother would make fresh flour tortillas for the family whenever we came to visit, she would heat them up on the plancha with butter for me and wrap it in a little paper towel perfectly so that I could eat without dripping butter all over myself. She would also make lengua in this like, very umami buttery gravy brown sauce with peas and carrots. It was my dad’s favorite, and mine too - being a little girl I didn’t quite grasp that I was eating cow tongue, I just knew it was tender and delicious. My Cuban grandmother would make arroz con pollo and tostones for us when my family visited Miami for the holidays, chased by her gold ringed fingered piano playing, before she went blind. It’s not so much that these dishes changed my opinion on food but rather defined my style of cooking, deeply emotional food.
SH: Where do you see yourself in the future of food for the world?
CC: I’d like to see myself making up part of the landscape of a more thoughtful ecosystem of chefs. My dream is to create holistic educational programs that teach folks how to plant seeds, grow, harvest, and prepare foods all while tending to the land in a regenerative way - this is all knowledge I’m still embarking on myself. In the short term though, I plan to scale my food offerings beyond private clients and one off events in a way that’s more widely accessible, and continuing to weave my herbal medicine making practice into those offerings.
SH: How can we stay up to date with what you’re doing?
CC: For now you can keep up with me on Instagram @camilacreates or check out my ever-growing website at camilacreates.love