Diego Oka

Diego Oka

Executive Chef at La Mar by Gastón Acurio

If you do what you like and you excel at what you are doing, no awards or recognition will give you more than this kind of satisfaction!

“Do what you like and what makes you happy” is one of the most defining lessons I have learned throughout my career.
My internship at Osteria Francescana by Chef Massimo Bottura and working at Ichi Ban Japanese Restaurant are two experiences that have greatly influenced my career.
I don’t know exactly when I knew this was the right profession, but I was always related to good cooking, good flavors and great ingredients.
Two pieces of advice from mentors that have stuck with me over time: (1) Believe it, because no one is going to believe it before you; (2) Don’t follow the money, the money will follow you!
It’s not difficult to maintain a healthy work life/balance, you simply need to love what you do. Learn how to handle challenges, not get distracted by them and do what you enjoy!
When hiring, candidates should definitely have some level of knife experience, but most importantly, what I’m looking for is a connection, the right attitude and a similar level of energy. That’s why I interview all candidates myself to make sure there’s a match with my team.
I look for people who are willing to learn, work hard and are team players. I don’t necessarily need someone who knows a lot about Peruvian food as we will teach them everything they need to know.
It’s very important for me to keep my team motivated. Besides maintaining a good relationship and environment, I will always be their voice, look out for them and support them, because they support me. We do many things together: dinners, after work reunions, find opportunities to travel, build international connections, and work on career growth. But beyond this, what’s key is our personal relationships, appreciating each other’s hard work, celebrating their performance, and making the stressful days happy by understanding them.
I couldn’t do my job without my team.
I find inspiration everywhere, at any time. I love to eat and enjoy discovering new things on social media.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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