After a recent promotion to chef de cuisine, Tatiana Pairot Rosana is heading up the kitchens at summer hot spots Outlook Kitchen and Bar and Lookout Rooftop and Bar at the Seaport’s Envoy Hotel.
The first-generation American — who grew up in a traditional Cuban family in Miami, and originally set out to be a doctor — took an unconventional path to the restaurant world.
“About two years into my undergrad degree, I was absolutely miserable,” says Rosana. “I was having what I like to call my quarter-life crisis.”
Feeling stuck and unhappy in her pre-med track, she called her father. “I thought he was going to be angry, but he was like, ‘Tatiana, what is it you like to do?’ And I was like, ‘I like to cook and I like to write,’ and he said, ‘So do it. Life is too short to be this miserable, especially this young.’ ”
Rosana switched her major to English, and after earning a bachelor’s degree went on to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, before moving to Boston.
“I showed up at the doorstep at Harvest and asked [then chef] Mary Dumont to give me a chance. She opened her arms to me so graciously, and embraced the fact that I was green in my career.”
The 28-year-old chef credits strong female mentors like Dumont and chef Rachel Klein for giving her the confidence to cook professionally and work her way up the kitchen ranks.
“I’m a small woman, and I think a lot of times people look at me like, ‘Who is this little girl running the kitchen?’ People are not expecting it, which is sad, but the fact that I can do it as well as any other man is fun,” says Rosana.
With a Cuban family, a Korean-American wife, French training, and an enthusiasm for local New England ingredients, Rosana says she enjoys drawing on many influences and playing with varied flavor profiles. “My passion for food, I would say, stems from my heritage, but my inspiration for food comes from so many places.”
Right now, her focus is squarely on light, clean, summer plates. “One of my favorite dishes — and it’s going to sound kind of lame — is a really good Caprese salad. We use fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and I pickle sweet corn, and we do a sweet corn vinaigrette that I toss with really good olive oil and honey that we get locally,” says the chef, as she gears up for the restaurants’ busiest time of year.
“We have it all in one location, so it’s fun for us to be able to host people downstairs for dinner, give them an amazing meal, get them nice and full, and then send them up to the roof where the views are just incredible.”
70 Sleeper St., Boston, 617-338-3030, www.theenvoyhotel.com
Catherine Smart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.