We have quite the special woman to share with all of you today! The amazing Shai Mandel is our #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY this week. Shai has been working in kitchens her whole life and has had a love for food and cooking since her childhood. Today, as a chef and a teacher, Shai merges both of her passions together by teaching children all over the greater Toronto area how to cook and bake. This incredible woman is both a leader in her field and a role model for her community. It’s so humbling to see how she encourages others to find their confidence by embracing their insecurities. Shai’s success is a result of shedding truth on the anxieties she has had herself, and by rising through them, she has blossomed into the inspiring person she is today.

While Shai was completing her degree in Kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University, she spent most of her free time working in the culinary industry. During her 10 years in the kitchen, she has had the privilege to learn from some of the most renowned chefs in Canada including Jonathan Goodyear, who is the executive chef at the Magna Golf Club and finalist of Top Chef Canada Season 3. As Shai continued to explore different aspects of the industry including pastry and fine dining, she began to train other chefs in various positions as well. This experience is what led her to discover how much she enjoyed teaching. In 2015, Shai completed her Ontario Teaching Certificate at Wilfrid Laurier University. During her time as student teacher in the Waterloo Region School Board, she organized and implemented various cooking after-school programs and events. She fell in love with teaching the youth how to cook and bake, which eventually led her to found Rooks to Cooks. Currently, Chef Shai Mandel has educated over 4000 children in the culinary arts!

It’s so incredible to see the dedication Shai has demonstrated to perfect her skills as a chef. She reminds all of us to remember that mastering your craft is a journey. Endless practice mixed with relentless perseverance, topped off with faithful patience is what manifests dreams to reality. We love how Shai has beautifully built her life around all the things that are important to her. Not to mention, this girl boss has taken what she loves to do and created a platform for children to have new opportunities and experience something new. Thank you Shai for showing us how we can marry all aspects of who we are into one overall vision we have for our lives!

Written by Alessia Rotino

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

What do you love most about cooking?

Making others happy. Cooking for me is a way of showing love and spreading joy! Food brings people together, and for me cooking is all about sharing experiences with others whether that be a new friend, a partner, family, whoever. In my opinion, food is nothing without the people you share it with.

I also love the science behind cooking. It’s really interesting to me! As a science teacher as well as a chef, there is so much science going on! When you know more about the science behind the cooking/baking, you have a better understanding on how to ensure you get the perfect product.

Who is your biggest female inspiration and why? 

I would have to say the women in my family are my biggest female inspirations. I am lucky to have so many driven and successful entrepreneurs in my family, specifically all four of my aunts, my grandmother, and my younger sister. To justify, being so close to my family and seeing the ups and downs that they all faced throughout their journeys, inspires me to hold on and stay focused during the tough times. In addition, seeing them all so passionate about what they do consistently reminds me that passion is the key to success.

What does having confidence mean to you?

Having confidence means practicing a positive belief structure about oneself. Key word PRACTICE, as confidence is something that you need to work on and build. Confidence is about believing in yourself and appreciating your own abilities/qualities. For me, it’s important to not only build my own self-confidence, but also maintain it as being an entrepreneur is a serious head game. It can, and has brought out insecurities I never knew I had. What I have learned is being confident doesn’t necessarily mean you do not have insecurities. On the contrary, I believe being confident is about accepting our insecurities and disallowing those insecurities from convincing yourself that you are not good enough/driving your life.

If you could go back in time and give your 10-year-old-self advice, what would you say?

Document everything you do! Although you are young, you’re with it and the thoughts/ideas you have are not only important, but could become a reality one day. If others pick on you, ignore them and don’t listen. It is this adversity that will help shape the person you are meant to be. You will come to appreciate your hardships, as they will make you more kind, patient, and empathetic to others. Qualities that draw people in and that you love in yourself. You got this girl!

What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?

I would define YGTGirl as a network of supportive women, all passionate about lifting one another up and inspiring one another. A YGTGirl is someone who practices this in their everyday life.