Growing up in San Diego, Stephanie Prida saw herself pursuing a career as an artist. But a developing appreciation of food drew Prida to the culinary world and fueled her decision to shift career paths. After graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, Prida began her career with a pastry internship at The Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas. She further honed her pastry skills working at RM Seafood and Tableau in Las Vegas, and then later at La Jolla’s Georges at the Cove. Wanting to learn about food on a global scale, Prida spent four months in Italy, staging at Nogarazza in Vicenza.
An opportunity to spearhead the pastry program at One Sixtyblue drew Prida to Chicago, where she began to make a name for herself. Next, as pastry sous chef at Blackbird, she was recognized for her talent, earning the Jean Banchet “Rising Pastry Chef” award in 2009. Prida began setting her sights on running a larger pastry program and accepted a pastry chef position at the Elysian Hotel in Chicago. In this role, Prida oversaw the pastry and bread program for now-shuttered RIA, the hotel’s two-Michelin starred restaurant, Balsan, and in-house dining and events. Prida later accepted the role of pastry chef for the Michelin-starred L2O, working alongside Chef Matt Kirkley
After nearly four years in Chicago, the California native was drawn back to the West Coast, joining David Kinch’s team at Manresa as pastry chef. Inspired by the restaurant’s dedication to produce and the natural beauty that surrounds the area, Prida combines timeless elegance and modern naturalistic sensibility in her refined dessert program.
Interview with 2013 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Chef Stephanie Prida
Katherine Sacks: What made you interested in a career in pastry?
Stephanie Prida: I didn't grow up in family that was really into food. I wanted to be an artist since I was a kid, but then I felt art school was kind of too far fetched, maybe I wasn't going to be good enough for it. So I went to culinary school out of high school.
KS: How would you describe your style?
SP: Obviously, seasonal, I think every pastry chef is. What I like to do is take one product, which is usually a piece of produce, and I build on that. I like to describe it as American contemporary. I like fun playful things.
KS: What are your three rules to pastry success?
SP: Patience, almost anal retentiveness, and you need to have a fun personality. For me pastry brings people back to their childhood and you need to have a fun personality to do that. Pastry chefs are always the wired ones in the kitchen.
KS: Where do you get your inspiration?
SP: I get inspiration by a lot of things, nothing in particular. I get inspired by classic ingredients and art and produce.
KS: What has been the hardest thing you’ve done?
SP: Sacrificing time with your family because you are working all the time, on holidays. I miss my family a lot.
KS: What are you most proud of?
SP: Being at Manresa. To be honest, I’m so happy, it’s such a unique environment. I've worked at a lot of kitchens. I think David Kinch strives for his cooks having a life, and that’s hard to find now a days.
KS: Where will we find you in 5 years?
SP: Hopefully I'm in Brittany, France running my own bed-and-breakfast. I'd like to move to France in five years.