Food and Family

The Roche family makes ravioli. Our Top Chef, Joe, is on the left.

With my busy schedule, I don’t often get an opportunity to watch TV, but I haven’t missed any episodes of Top Chef this season since my nephew, Joe Flamm, is one of the competing chefs. It’s been exciting for our entire family to watch Joe’s progress, and now he’s one of the final two contestants!

For those of you who have not seen the show, Top Chef is an American reality TV competition in which experienced chefs from across the country compete in culinary challenges and are judged by a panel of professional chefs. Watching Joe compete week after week in such high-pressure situations, I’ve been reminded of the work ethic that I was taught from a young age.  The road to the finals was certainly not a direct path for Joe. Mid-season, he was eliminated and had to regroup, refocus, and fight his way back on the show through a second chance “twist” the show created.  It makes me even more proud of what he was able to accomplish.

Joe has had the opportunity to share stories about the influence my mother, Mary, and father, Ed, played on his cooking. He frequently mentions that his love of cooking came from spending time in his grandmother’s kitchen making homemade pasta. My mother actually appeared in a recent episode. She cooked up our family-famous rigatoni and meatballs, and Joe’s challenge was to elevate the dish. Seeing Joe with my mother made it very clear that she has positively influenced not only her children, but also her grandchildren.

Joe and my mom, Mary.

Long before his Top Chef fame, I was proud of Joe’s work ethic. In addition to elevating my mom’s pasta dishes, Joe has risen to her high standards. She always passed along the advice of her own mother and taught  us all to, “Make work your hobby, and have fun.” I have certainly built my career around that wisdom, as has my nephew. Joe has absolutely embraced his professional endeavors, and his “fun” seamlessly blends into his work.

I will be cheering Joe on when the finale airs on Thursday. However, win or lose, the outcome will not impact his future success. His work ethic, integrity, and unflappable nature will take him far, and just as I’ve been excited to watch his adventures on the show each week, I am equally excited to witness what’s next for Joe because the next phase of his adventure is just beginning.

I hope you’ll tune in for the exciting finale on Thursday!


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