Renata Ameni

Renata Ameni

Executive Pastry Chef of Crown Shy & SAGA

There was an open kitchen at Patisserie Douce France so we could see the faces of our customers. I remember making something simple - I think it was mille-feuille - and it made every customer's day. When people eat dessert, they’re indulging. They’re eating for the purpose of enjoyment alone. I know nothing better than bringing people joy.

My first kitchen job in São Paulo made a tremendous impact on my life and career. Chef Fabrice Le Nud, was French and very old-school. In other words, he was hard on us. However, the kitchen fundamentals he instilled in the team shaped my career. In order to become a chef, Le Nud insisted, you need to be able to do every kitchen task, no matter how small. Foregoing prep was not an option: every senior member of the kitchen team must be able to perform every task. Understanding the fundamentals and proving myself when I was young and impressionable was invaluable— especially as a woman.
When I’m hiring, I look for people who are humble. I have no interest in candidates who think they know everything. I want people who are open to learning and know that there is an infinite amount to learn. In terms of practical skills, I look for attention to detail, organization, and ability to prioritize tasks effectively.
I try not to micromanage my teams. I’m specific about what I need, then I let people make their own mistakes. When someone makes a mistake, they never make it again. In turn, I’m not afraid to point out when something is done wrong or sharing words of affirmation when people execute well. I like to tell people when they’re crushing it.
When I add dishes to a menu, I want them to be interesting for both my team and the guests. That often means a dish will incorporate a new technique or an unfamiliar flavor. It’s a good way to make sure our cooks are consistently learning.
I can’t live without my team. I’m not a solo act.
The most essential books for me are "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" by Harold McGee, "Baking & Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft" from The Culinary Institute of America, and "The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook" from America’s Test Kitchen.

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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