As a culinary school graduate with over a decade of experience in the kitchen, few are more familiar with the ups and downs of a culinary career than Ruby is.
“I’ve worked in hotels, corporations, golf clubs, and while it is always wonderful to be cooking, not everything is as glamorous as it looks on TV. Behind the scenes, it can be a struggle. While you’re working in all these fabulous places with your adrenaline running and creating all these beautiful dishes, it can be hard to balance that with your family life. Eventually, there comes a time when you need to decide whether to pursue your career in the culinary business or take care of your family.”
According to Ruby, she remembers exactly when that time came.
“There was a moment that made me change my outlook on everything. I was making all this money and working all these hours, but I would see my kid in the morning and then not see her again until the next morning. My daughter, when she was only 3 or 4 years old, asked my husband whether I was still living in the house. That was the moment I decided ‘I cannot do this.’”
Upon discovering Aramark K-12, Ruby quickly realized there were opportunities to pursue the best of both worlds. Due to increased flexibility, a lower stress environment, and coworkers & managers that care, Aramark stood out as a place Ruby could pursue her passion for cooking while also being there for her family.
“I had been looking and looking for so long, trying different industries but was never satisfied with the flexibility of the schedules. However, almost by luck, I discovered Aramark. To be honest, I never even considered the possibility of working in a school, but fortunately, there was a place for me here.”
Ruby wasn’t always in the culinary field, however. Prior to moving to the United States from Venezuela, she was following in her father’s footsteps, pursuing a career in photography.
“I came to the United States in 2003 because of political, social and economic issues back in Venezuela. It was unbearable to be there. My father is a retired photographer, and I was raised to become a photographer too, but when things became too difficult, it was time to pursue new opportunities. When I moved here, I started working in a bagel shop, and I loved it. To serve people is my thing. To have the opportunity to change the day of a person through just a simple cup of coffee – that was amazing. And that’s what I love about this business.”
While working in the bagel shop, Ruby discovered a passion for cooking that changed the trajectory of her life for the better.
“Soon after I started at the bagel shop, they taught me to make the cream cheese, egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad. And then working the grill was the best spot ever. I was fortunate enough to have a manager that used to be a cook in a French restaurant, and he taught me many things. Eventually I said okay, let’s go to the next level, and I ultimately ended up at the Institute of Culinary Education.”
To hear more about Ruby’s role at Aramark and her camaraderie with her team, check out the Q&A or Soundcloud link!
— Ruby Coffrini, Lead Cook
Hear more from our conversation with Ruby in the Q&A section below.
What brought you to Aramark?
I went to the Institute of Culinary Education and have been working in professional kitchens for more than 10 years, including hotels, corporate level, golf clubs, it is a wonderful thing cooking. But not everything is so glamorous as it looks on TV, and what is behind the scene is that you struggle sometimes. To try to balance this culinary career with your family life is not like a good match for me. There comes a time when you have to decide, okay, is this my ambition to go and build my career in the culinary business, or do I take care of my family. And to me was like a no brainer thing, I decided it is my family. There was a place for me there and fortunately Aramark hired me. It's been great, I like that the flexibility is there and also the competitivity of the money that you make.
What makes you passionate about your job?
I can be creative, but I'm more like a person that's always there to help. Because in the kitchen we have a lot of people, probably 13 people working together as a team. That's the fun of the job, to be able to share not only responsibilities, but ideas and ways to do things better. I like to help and to help make things easier for people. That's what I love the most. I like to cook but I really love to be behind the scenes helping and trying to make things better.
How are you inspired by your team and your environment?
It's a very rewarding experience to see the happy faces of the kids when they come and take their food. You feel like "oh my God, we did that." We have an incredible lady on our team, she's around 70 years old but she loves her work. She works really hard and it's an inspiration for all the team. She always has a smile with the kids, and is looking for ways to help another person. She's a beautiful person to work with.
Why have you stayed with Aramark throughout your career?
We have fun and we all work together because it all happens so fast. One thing that I like, is that Aramark listens when you have something to to add to make things better. You really get to be a part of everything and they care about you.