Growing up in Minnesota, Kristen Thibeault dreamed of cooking professionally, though it didn’t seem realistic. “Back in those days, Julia Child was really the only famous female chef and there wasn’t a Food Network and all that. So it was really kind of frowned upon and my parents kind of pressured me into a more traditional college environment,” says Thibeault, 46. She ended up in PR and marketing, working in the beauty industry, and keeping a close eye on what was being served at big events.
In 2008, Thibeault was diagnosed with breast and uterine cancer, requiring a double mastectomy and radical hysterectomy, and was inspired to revisit her dream. “It was a very long journey but I made it through, and kind of realized coming out of it that this is it. This is the one life I have, so I should really live my dreams and I should really do what I love,” she says.