Nirasha Rodriguez has won the 2018 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award in hospitality and tourism category. Her Carpinteria-centric business feeds any number from 1,000 to 4,000 individuals every day. Her business bears the name “The Food Liaison”. She was also the winner of Successful Entrepreneurs Giving Back prize. The latter comes with a $10,000 cash award. It was given as a surprise to her during the gala.
The prize Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award is given to successful women entrepreneurs at all levels. Independent judges select finalists. All judges are from outside the geographical area to make sure no biases creep in. For Nirasha, this was her third time in the competition. It is clear her persistence paid off. Cathy Feldman, the board president and Chief Executive Officer of Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation, said she deserves the award more in 2018 as her The Food Liaison served the community post-tragedy. The judges were impressed by her gesture.
Rodriguez knew from early childhood where her passions lay. She would play “restaurant” in her home while she waited for her father to return home from work. Her father brought her up. She would set a table, put some nice music on the radio, and make a menu. Pricing was hugs and kisses. She later taught herself cooking and acquired a fine art degree.
Rodriguez brings to the table her photography background, She uses her photography skill to artfully balance and compose plates of a variety of flavors and textures. She would frequently host dinner parties while being a student of Brooks Institute. During one such get-together, a friend invited the photographer to take up catering. Cooking was natural to her and she felt she was in her element. She was clear from the beginning that she did not want to be a part of the restaurant business. She confessed that she was better at cooking compared to her photography skills. She claimed that being a chef was her calling and a passion. She eats, drinks, and even sleeps food.
The award-winner was candid when she was asked how did she learn sans any formal culinary training. Rodriguez explained that she comprehended the fundamental techniques. She also learned by watching how other people cooked. She knows the profiles and the flavors which gel together. She understands what comes best together on a plate to be a sumptuous palette.