Cooking as an art form

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Executive Chef Tatiana Rosana stays true to her Cuban roots, while also sampling new cuisines to create interesting and beautiful dishes.

Today, Executive Chef Tatiana Pairot Rosana heads The Envoy Hotel’s Outlook Kitchen and Bar, Lookout Rooftop and Bar and in-room dining. But the path she took to this position was anything but straightforward. Rosana’s diverse roots and education, however, have given her an appreciation for new cuisines, menu creation and the art inherent in meal presentations.

“Always, always, always stay true to yourself,” says Rosana. “Nothing can replace hard work and ‘the hustle.’ As my father said to me once, ‘you’ll be good at what you put your head into, but you’ll be great at what you put your heart into.’ Don’t lose your heart to follow your head.”

A first generation American, Rosana grew up in Miami in a traditional Cuban family in which food always took center stage, instilling her passion for food from a very young age.

However, Rosana originally wanted to become a doctor until calculus stymied her biomedical science degree. Her father asked her what made her happiest, and she responded “writing and cooking,” so she switched majors to earn a bachelors degree in English at the University of South Florida before attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

After graduating in 2010, Rosana moved to Boston to nourish her culinary career and landed an externship at Harvest Restaurant in Harvard Square. At Harvest, Rosana worked with noted Chef Brian Young and former Iron Chef Contestant, Chef Mary Dumont, who Rosana credits with shaping the course of her culinary career and teaching her more than she ever could have learned in school.

A year later, Rosana joined the team at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel where she worked under the supportive guidance of award-winning Chef Rachel Klein and met her wife, Alexis, who still pushes her “to be a better chef every single day.” She progressed from kitchen manager to team leader and chef de partie.

Now at The Envoy Hotel, she uses her Cuban background, French training, New England cooking experience and wife’s Korean heritage to inspire her cooking philosophy and openness to new cuisines.

Local, regional ingredients shine in her dishes, as she showcases creative pairings and interesting textures to keep guests interested in her menus.

“I get inspiration for new dishes from literally everywhere,” says Rosana. “I’m drawn to nature and often get moved to create a dish simply from being outside.”

Rosana stays true to her roots and upbringing, but is also constantly inspired by “my past, my wife and my family, while always keeping an eye to the future and the progression of food and dining.”

A perfect example of her cooking inspiration is apparent in her N.Y. Strip dish, which she counts as one of her favorites. “It’s a 10-ounce, Pineland Farms N.Y. Strip served with black garlic demi-glace, romesco sauce, cauliflower a la plancha and tortilla espanola,” says Rosana. “Not only are the flavor combinations spot on, but the presentation is visually beautiful and the ingredients speak to my culture in a really nostalgic way for me.”

In her free time, she enjoys sharing about #TheArtofPlating on Instagram (chef.tatiana) to feature her cooking presentation as art. “Plating is important to me, so I’m often moved by colors and artwork as those could spark food combinations in my mind that I might not have thought of before,” says Rosana.

In addition, she uses her writing experience to develop her menus, because they are just as much a part of the eating experience as the food.

“My menu writing process usually involves a rollercoaster of emotions, successes and mishaps before I finally get a dish perfected,” says Rosana. “I like to push myself and my flavors while still staying true to my cooking style.”

Her constant self-examination prevents her from becoming complacent with her ingredients and techniques, noting that without this motivation chefs can “lose drive when it comes to their menus and dishes end up getting stale and mundane.”

And when the process gets hard, aspiring chefs should remind themselves why it’s worth it. “Light yourself on fire with your passion, and people will inevitably feel your warmth,” says Rosana.

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