There’s something wonderful in the power of culinary arts. No one knows that better than Open Gate International’s Global Executive Chef, Cinthia Worsey. Growing up in South America in a home where food was passion, Chef Cinthia has many childhood memories that start with her mom and grandmother in the kitchen. She soaked in every moment, and when it was time to choose a career, food was the obvious path. Chef Cinthia graduated from Le Cordon Bleu California School of Culinary Arts and has worked in renowned restaurants such as L’Orangerie in West Hollywood, Restaurant Bastide on Melrose Place, One Sunset Restaurant, in the Backroom Wine Lounge at Morry’s of Naples as well as been a personal chef for high-profile clients. As Open Gate International’s Global Executive Chef, she runs the culinary program in Orange County, creates meals for fundraising events, oversees the global programs in different parts of the world and develops all the menus and manuals that are used in the kitchen.

Let’s get to know a little bit more about Chef Cinthia!

OGI: What is the most significant lesson you have learned in your work with Open Gate International?

CC: You get to meet and teach people that come from all different parts of the globe, who have been through horrendous things, and they still have such an amazing attitude. Even with everything they’ve gone through, even if they come without anything, they are so grateful. They give what little they have.

Here at OGI, we can give people a little push and see how they blossom. I’m so lucky to be able to be doing what I’m doing right now. Everything that I’ve learned and experienced has trained me to be able to do what I’m doing right now. I am better equipped to work alongside our students with a little extra patience and compassion to make a difference in their lives.

Thanks to OGI, I have learned so much about being loving and compassionate no matter what. That’s one of the most impactful things that I hope to always take with me. In addition to this, traveling with Deidre (Pujols) has really opened my eyes to the issues happening around the world, including such devastating crimes like human trafficking.

OGI: What is your favorite kitchen memory?

CC: In addition to happy times spent in the kitchen as a child, the first job that I had in the United States was in a kitchen. It was at L’Orangerie, and I begged to work in the kitchen right after school as an internship. They didn’t really need an intern per say, but I just kept calling for weeks until they offered me the position – I just really wanted to work there. Every day I came to work, worked six days a week from two o’clock in the afternoon to one o’clock in the morning just for the experience.

Not only was this my first kitchen experience, but also my favorite kitchen memory because I prepped the “family” dinners, which took place at five o’clock and all staff gathered outside and ate together. I was always asked to cook the meal, so most of the time the entire staff was eating the food I created. It’s a sense of satisfaction when you can see people enjoying your food. It’s our own language that allows people to connect on different levels.

OGI: What do you wish people knew about cooking?

CC: How to use salt. People are afraid to season and use spices and herbs to enhance the meal, but salt is the beginning of everything. It allows you to taste more of everything. If you don’t have salt in your food you can’t taste sweet, you can’t taste acid, you can’t taste bitter. You may be able to taste a little, but salt adds depth. Salt opens our palate to experience additional flavors, and it’s actually in our DNA.

Tip from Chef Cinthia: Rather than table salt, try adding flavors like Himalayan salt and lava salt to really bring out added flavors.

OGI: What is your favorite piece of cooking advice?

CC: Use all of your senses. You can elevate your palate just by using all of your senses. I always tell my kids that chefs are the most unique because we use all of our senses. A painter uses touch and sight, but doesn’t taste, smell or hear things. A chef is an artist that uses all five senses. When I’m in the kitchen I can see, taste, touch, smell and hear. I can hear when the potatoes are ready. I can hear – not smell – hear when something is burning. There are a lot of different aspects in the kitchen that I think people can miss because no one has shown them. Pay attention to the details. It can be healing for a lot of people. It can be a way of mediation.

Thank you so much to Chef Cinthia for sitting down with us and taking time to share her thoughts and experiences about Open Gate International and the art of cooking. We’re so thrilled that she’s part of our team and grateful for her leadership in the kitchen. Be sure to follow along with us to see Chef Cinthia’s creations in the kitchen first-hand.