City of residence: Dickinson
Current title: Executive Chef
Place of business: Katie's Seafood House
Education: Associate of Applied Sciences, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management from Galveston College
Family: Husband, Timothy Bass; four kids, Kenzington, 12; Mattox, 11; Viva, 9; and Nate, 8
Professional responsibilities: I'm the executive chef of the new Katie's Seafood House opening in the fall 2018. I'm also an instructor at The Kitchen Chick in Galveston for four years. I own my own private catering company since 2012. I have been an instructor at Alvin Community College for nine years.
Accomplishments/honors: Best Chef Galveston, 2015, 2016, 2017; runner-up on "Cutthroat Kitchen" on Food Network in 2016
Community involvement: I'm a volunteer chef for the Galveston Historical Foundation and Galveston's Own Farmers Market. I also founded Harvey's Teachers Helpers after Hurricane Harvey. We have raised more than $17,000 for teachers in Dickinson ISD who were displaced after the storm. Our goal is to put $200 in the hands of every teacher affected. Lots of other community activities through the schools and colleges via speaking about being a chef and the culinary field.
Why did you go into your particular field?
When I was 7 years old, my grandmother used to cook for all the first-time visitors at church. Some Sundays it would be 40 immediate family members, other Sundays it would be 80-plus people from church. She fed missionaries, pastors, anyone who needed a hot meal. I would leave church early with her to go prepare these meals. I learned at her feet. When I was old enough to decide what I wanted to do, a chef was always my choice.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Since I was 7 years old, I always wanted to be a chef.
What was your first job?
Williams-Sonoma. I started as a gift wrapper one holiday and they kept me! I worked my way up to lead sales, I taught cooking classes, did in-store demos and worked with the promotions department to create recipes for the items corporate wanted displayed.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
There is no crying in catering (said just like "A League of Their Own").
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
I love to feed people. It's not the act of cooking or the food itself, it's watching people enjoy my food that makes me so passionate about what I do.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your career?
You're not an avocado, you cannot make everyone happy. There will be times that, despite your best efforts, you cannot please everyone. Just do your absolute best, and at the end of the day, you can sleep easy knowing you tried your hardest.
Who do you consider to be your greatest mentor and why?
Leslie Bartosh. He was the director of the program at Galveston College when I went through the program and in 2009 I started as an adjunct instructor at Alvin Community College. He is now the director of the Culinary Arts program out there. He's the most amazing chef and his passion for teaching the next generation of chefs drives me. I'm constantly thankful for his support of me no matter what I am doing in my career. I hope one day that he looks back at what I've accomplished and knows that he played a huge roll in making it all possible.
When you’re not at work, what do you do to relax?
I love to travel. I often say, I work so I can travel. My 2018 New Year's resolution was to take a trip a month. This year, I'll get to do that for the entire first half of the year. I've been to Memphis, Vegas, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Mexico City, Destin and Winnipeg, Canada. It'll slow down with the opening of the new restaurant, but I'll still find time to get out of town.
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
This is as bad of a question as "What's your favorite thing to cook?" I am an open book, so there isn't much people don't know about me. And my favorite thing to cook is exactly what you are in the mood to eat.
How do you hope to grow in your career?
I am a natural teacher, so I hope to continue that at the restaurant. I want the next generation of little baby chefs to come here to learn. My students always push me to be better. I wouldn't be half the chef I am today if it wasn't for them and going forward I will continue to educate them as much as they educate me.
If you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
A stay at home mom. It's the hardest job in the entire world. We have three kids of our own and we are raising my nephew as well. I would be the PTO-est, softball/football team mommy-est mom ever. My kids might not enjoy that too much because the house would always have to be clean and they wouldn't get nearly as much free time on their electronics, but I'm sure my husband would enjoy me to actually cook a dinner at home every night.