Tiffany Lewis, B.A. communication studies ’04, is first and foremost a passionate, professional chef. She is also the mastermind behind TheTableTogether.com, her cooking website, where she posts new recipes and blogs. After graduating from Chapman in 2004, she moved to Columbus, Ohio to work at Chase Bank. Food has always been literally a central part of Tiffany’s family, bringing her immediate family to the table together night after night. So when the frigid winter took over in Columbus, Tiffany was quick to notice that, similar to her upbringing, food was what brought people together when they found shelter from the freezing winter storms. She was inspired then to move toward a career as a chef.
Tiffany was trained at the renowned culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, worked for celebrity chef Curtis Stone, teaches cooking classes at Sur La Table, is the emcee and culinary director for the critically acclaimed Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival, and, as previously mentioned, now owns her own consulting and culinary education company, TheTableTogether.com. Most recently, she launched her YouTube channel, The Table Together with Tiffany Lewis. Be sure to check out the channel’s latest video, “How to Cut a Watermelon.”
Chapman University: In your career, what do you do on a daily basis?
Tiffany Lewis: I am the founder, chef, food stylist, writer, photographer and creator behind The Table Together. No day is like the other, which I love! One day I may be behind a computer writing new recipes, blog posts, updating my content calendar for both my website and social media channels, or sorting through magazines and my enormous collection of cookbooks looking for inspiration. On another day, you can find me in the test kitchen testing new recipes, while styling and shooting my own creations. I also have a consulting business where I offer private and group cooking classes in people’s homes, meal planning services, and even perform live on stage in front of an audience! However, all that being said, some of my favorite days are filming for my YouTube channel, The Table Together with Tiffany Lewis, which offers recipes and tips for cooking at your best! When not in my own kitchen, filming, behind the computer or in a client’s kitchen, I am serving as emcee and culinary director for the critically acclaimed Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival, and teaching cooking classes at Sur La Table. I’m rarely seen without an apron, cookbook or magazine in hand, and/or laptop nearby.
CU: How did you come to choose your career?
TL: After moving to Columbus, Ohio in the middle of winter for a terrific job opportunity with Chase Bank, I quickly realized two things: 1) I didn’t know how to drive in the snow nor enter a car completely iced over; 2) The power food played in bringing people together and making friends. After two years of living in Columbus, I loved how cooking for and with others expanded my community and decided to capitalize on that movement by moving back to the West Coast and attending culinary school.
CU: What were the challenges in establishing your current career?
TL: My challenge has always been, and always will be, finding my differentiator and true authentic self. There are tons of bloggers, chefs, cookbook authors and influencers in the food world today. It’s remembering who you are, how you are different, and staying true to yourself that makes you stand out and really shine!
CU: What was your path after graduating from Chapman?
TL: From working in sales at Nordstrom and Starbucks, and then marketing for WaMu and Chase, I was primed for culinary school and the tough reality of what it took to succeed in a very competitive and demanding (physically and mentally) environment. Upon graduation, I was given the great honor of working on the culinary team for Los Angeles based-celebrity chef Curtis Stone. Serving as a key member on the culinary team for Curtis Stone gave me the invaluable opportunity to manage and execute all his major cooking demos across the globe, from South Beach Food & Wine Festival to Sydney Good Food & Wine Show and Los Angeles Food & Wine. When not on the road, I helped develop and test recipes in his Los Angeles test kitchen, styled food for his many appearances on nationally syndicated T.V. shows, and supported the production and promotion of his best-selling cookbook, What’s for Dinner? Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life.
My unique experiences with Chef Stone prompted me to take to my own culinary stage, teaching cooking classes at Sur La Table, conducting live cooking demos, offering private in-home cooking experiences and consultation, and acting as the master of ceremonies and Culinary Director for the critically-acclaimed Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival. I’ve recently stepped into the online spotlight, having launched my website, TheTableTogether.com, and YouTube channel The Table Together with Tiffany Lewis.
My concept of “togetherness” is the driving force behind both endeavors and my fundamental message. By developing, testing, styling and shooting all my own content, including hundreds of recipes, while also providing countless tips and resources, I equip my audiences with the necessary tools to cook at their best.
CU: Where do you see yourself in five and 10 years?
TL: I would love to see myself on either the Food Network or Cooking Channel, writing a collection of cookbooks, serving as a regular contributor to a nationally syndicated magazine and/or network (Good Morning America, Food Network Magazine, Cooking Light, Martha Stewart, Southern Living, Real Simple, etc.), and partnering with key brands to make a broader reach and impact. Regardless of where I am in five or 10 years, I hope that my brand has encouraged others to understand the power food plays in bringing people around the table together while building relationships, fostering communities and ultimately bringing life.
CU: What insight would you give to current students and alumni who are searching for employment?
TL: People genuinely want to help others. However, if they don’t know what it is that you need help with, they don’t know how to help you! Always carry business cards, have your elevator pitch ready and meet as many people as possible. Put yourself in as many situations as you can to make connections and follow up on each of them. You never know who knows who and who may make an introduction of a lifetime!
CU: What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?
TL: Get involved, make contacts, get to know your professors, ask their opinions, ask if they can help with introductions or leads in your field of choice, and take full advantage of all the great opportunities provided and available to you right on campus. From networking fairs to the Career Development Center (and career and industry team for alumni), Chapman does a great job giving you the tools to succeed. Its up to you to take advantage of them and make them work for you.
CU: How has your Chapman degree helped you?
TL: My degree in communication studies, emphasis in public speaking, helped me gain the necessary confidence and ability to speak in front of others, how to write a leading and compelling speech or presentation, and how to also defend it.
CU: How were you involved on campus during your time as a Chapman student?
TL: I played varsity tennis all four years and varsity volleyball my first year. I was also a Chapman ambassador.
CU: What is your favorite Chapman memory?
TL: Living in the dorms, playing sports and making long-lasting, like-minded friends!
CU: Have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?
TL: Yes! My entire family has! My parents are to this day contributing to Chapman in many ways, one of which is their fifteenth year partnering with admissions and Parent Engagement to host incoming freshman from Seattle in their Seattle home the summer before the students attend Chapman.
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